Business Students Take On Shanghai
During the Easter holidays, 18 business studies students departed on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Shanghai, China.
The group's first visit was to the largest Starbucks in the world. Here, inside the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in the city’s centre, the group got a close look at how 'the brown stuff' is made and enjoyed a ridiculously priced cup of coffee! They then visited People’s Square, Nanjing Road - evidently one the busiest streets in the world - and The Bund, where they enjoyed the busy and glitzy epicentre of Shanghai. They finished the first day off watching the ERA Acrobats show. This is one of Shanghai’s most famous shows that redefined Chinese acrobatics. The spectacular sequences of acrobatic performances left the group enthralled and amazed.
After a hearty continental breakfast, the group made their way to Shanghai Volkswagen; one of the oldest examples of joint ventures in the field of automotive engineering. Established in 1985 as a joint Sino-German initiative, it has proved one of the most successful ever, with sales in 2010 exceeding one million units. Students enjoyed an extensive tour around one of the biggest modern production bases in China, finished off with a Q&A session.
After an interesting lunch of Shanghai’s famous Xiao Long Bao dumplings, the group continued onto their next stop: the famous and very beautiful, Yuyuan Gardens. Yuyuan Gardens was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) named Pan Yunduan. Yu in Chinese means pleasing and satisfying, and this garden was specially built for Pan's parents as a place for them to enjoy a tranquil and happy time in their old age. It was nice to feel a sense of calm - even in the hustle and bustle of the city!
To round off the day, the group ventured to Lujiazui - arguably offering the most futuristic skyline in the world. Here, students were met with incredible futuristic architecture, mixed with the Chinese traditions. They then had the opportunity to head to the top of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the centre-piece of this region and Shanghai’s most iconic building. The views at the top were incredible. It also offered a 360-degree glass floor walkway at the top – for the brave!
The group spent the morning at Yakult’s Shanghai factory - Yakult being a famous Japanese milk drink. The factory resembled a biohazard laboratory. The manufacturing equipment was the most advanced of the group’s 38 factories around the world. Students saw a variety of Yakult products and learnt about intestinal health before heading onto their next stop: the Jade Buddha Temple and Tianzifang.
As with many modern Chinese Buddhist temples, the Jade Buddha Temple entwines traditions of Mahayana Buddhism. It was founded in 1882 with two Jade Buddha statues imported to Shanghai from Burma by sea. Here, the group also witnessed many practicing Buddhists chanting, reflecting and praying. Tianzifang, an old housing area that has been converted into a bohemian shopping and art scene, gave students the chance to see interesting demonstrations about the history of tea in China, its importance to Chinese culture and how to make the ideal cuppa!
The day was rounded off with a mesmerizing river cruise along the Huangpu River, where students enjoyed an extraordinary light show courtesy of all the skyscrapers on view!
In order to beat the crowds to gain access to Shanghai Disneyland Park, the group were up early! Here, students leant why Disney chose Shanghai as its next big venture and how it infused the western loved elements of its brand with the Chinese needs and wants. The Walt Disney Company seemed to have spared no expense in building its sixth theme park which opened in 2017; the $5.5-billion Shanghai Disneyland is a colossal 963-acre park - three times larger than Hong Kong Disneyland and anchored by the tallest castle in any Disney theme park. The group enjoyed plenty of 'white knuckle rides' and a well needed burger and chips!
During day five, students made their way to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall at People's Square. Here, they enjoyed an interactive tour celebrating the achievement of the city’s intense planning and construction over the past 100 years as well as its future planning. The population ticker was changing during their visit, and on that day, Shanghai’s urban area population was over 33 million!
Zhujiajiao Water Town was the next stop - the ancient town with a history of more than 1700 years. The group were in awe of the unique old bridges across bubbling streams, small rivers shaded by willow trees, and houses with courtyards attached - all to transport people who have been living amidst the bustle and hustle of the modern big city to a brand-new world full of antiquity, leisure and tranquility.
On day six, the group travelled north to Hangzhou. This nine-million-people-populated city is the capital of Zhejiang Province and the local political, economic and cultural center. Here, they took a scenic and indulging boat ride around the West Lake; the most frequently visited attraction in Shanghai. Our students got the chance to stroll along the causeway by the lake and feel the peaceful ethos of the city and better understand its time-honored fame as 'Heaven on Earth'
From Hangzhou, the group moved to Longjing tea fields, famous for its aromatic tea. After a quick picking session, the group attended a tea ceremony by a ‘Master’ of tea art. They learnt about different types of leaves, tea making skills, and tea tasting methods. The Longjing Tea, a type of green tea of over 1200 years old growing in the surrounding area of the world famous West Lake in Hangzhou, is the 'No. 1 among the Top 10 Famous Tea in China'.
Thank you to Ms. Hickling, Mr. Hussain and Mr. Evans for their support, guidance and organisation of this trip - a brilliant opportunity for our students to visit an ever-expanding part of the world.