Thursday, August 2, 2012

The end is here.....

Woah! Here it is. My final full day in China and I will be talking about the past week because I have had limited time to write on here!

Last Saturday, we spent the day around Shanghai doing a scavenger hunt of different places and completing some tasks. We made it to the top of the World Financial Tower, an amazing piece of architecture and very tall. The 360 degree view was amazing. We also made it to the fake market by the Science and Technology Museum subway stop and the Xiantiandi area full of swanky shops and restaurants. We walked all around the city. We were so exhausted from walking in the heat so we stopped our tour there and went home to the apt. for relaxation and enjoyed a tasty meal from a nearby restaurant in our neighborhood.

Sunday me and Joe ventured out to a water town, we were hoping to get to Zujaijio but got to the bus station at the wrong time finding out they take only one bus in the morning. So instead we took Line 9 on the subway to a closer water town called Qibao. It was tucked away and full of shops and Chinese tourists. We took a boat up and down the little river streaming through and the boat was paddled by a Chinese woman pumping the oar up and down. It was also really hot that day and I finally got some tan lines during my time here. We headed home and rested up with some dinner and relaxation in preparation for my last days at work.

On Monday night, Vincent wanted to treat me to some Western food before I left. He took me to a Texas BBQ place. He surprised me by inviting my friend Janee to join us for a BBQ sandwich and drinks. It was a fun evening and it was nice being able to have a non-work related dinner with Vincent before I left. He has been so accommodating to my stay here in China and I don't think I will ever be able to repay him for all he has helped me and shown me in China.

Tuesday night me and Tyler went to the blind massage place for my last massage. It was a wonderful hour. I am going to miss this very cheap weekly luxury.

I ended the workweek on Wednesday. I have completed all my projects and now all that is left for me to do is meet David and Grace in MN for the vendor conference I will be working at with them. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone on Wednesday, my entire company was so nice to me and it is going to be weird not sitting in my desk every morning with a cup of Chinese tea to start out my morning. They all gave me hugs and followed me on the way out the door to my last shuttle bus ride back to the subway

Last night (Thursday), Tu my friend at CSB is interning in Hong Kong this summer came to visit Shanghai so I picked her up at the airport in the afternoon and we spent the evening with my friend Janee. We met her at her company and bought some coffee and enjoyed a much needed manicure and pedicure. Then, we went two shops over and got our hair braided at a beauty shop that Janee frequents all the time. It was a really fun evening and we ended it with a boat cruise tour on the Pudong River while it was raining and a delicious dinner of craw fish and mussels and clams on a popular street down by the Bund. It was a perfect night.

Tonight we have celebration of our internships here in Shanghai and a farewell for me. We will have a group of 15 eating dinner at a Tapanyakki and out and about afterwards. Our bosses and friends we have made along the way are joining us along with Tu and three other CSB/SJU students who are arriving today who have been doing research this summer. It is going to be a great final hoorah.

That is it for now and I will be finishing this blog with a couple more entries on my experience and a few more pictures when I return and settle back into the homeland. Thanks for following my adventures and stay tuned!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Nearing the End!

It has been a long and fun week! A blink of an eye and I am already saying goodbyes this week as David and Grace take off for their U.S. trip tomorrow. That means, my goodbye party and all that good stuff happened this week too. I have three days left of work and On the 4th I will be boarding the plane for home .It is bittersweet. Here is a timeline of events that have happened that deserve pictures!

Saturday 7/21
The weather has been surprisingly nice this entire week so Saturday afternoon, my roommates Joe, Tyler and I went to the fake beach on the south end of the bund. Yes, this is a spot full of foreigners of all kinds, but being Minnesotan and missing our summer sun we took advantage of the perfect weather to lay on some sand and hang out in the rays. It was my first tan of the summer (and it is gone already). Anyways after we got enough sun, we took the ferry across the river to the Pudong Area and walked around all the tall skyscrapers along the river. It was a perfect night to do this and we went to the Pearl Tower area and found a big mall where I picked up a couple shirts in. Then we got back to our apartment around nine and then headed out for some drinks in the Changsho road area where Tyler, Joe and I just hung out and chatted. It was one of my favorite days in Shanghai. We got to see a lot and so much was happening the entire day.

watching the sunset on our quick ferry ride

right in front of the pearl tower

Tuesday evening after work, my company had a farewell dinner for me and they also invited my roommates along too. We ate a new restaurant and enjoyed lots of delicious Chinese food along with lots of beer. We did the traditional cheers everybody at the dinner and they cheers you back and that got us prepared for the second part of the night which was a trip to the KTV. KTV is Chinese karaoke but they do it a little differently here .It is a big building filled with rooms with TV's and sound systems and you have a private room to sing and hang out in with your group you are with, there aren't any bar stages here! It was a lot of fun and my boss dedicated a song to me and we danced and sang songs and played the dice game til late. It was so much fun and I will always remember that night. My co-workers treat me so well here and it makes me want to work here longer!
the beginning of dinner

my boss David singing it up at KTV

me and Tyler singing a song
my co workers Ivan (L) and Hugo (R)

Wednesday morning I took the subway to the train station instead of work because I went on a visit to our Jinhua factory with Ivy which is a three hour train ride away. When we arrive in Jinhua, the first thing we did was eat lunch a local restaurant. They are regulars there because people were waving to them outside the building. the food was very good. I enjoyed the fried fish the best and the weirdest thing I tried was sparrow. It was a good experience to see a Chinese factory and I actually got to see the products we sell being made in action. There was a lot of welding going on because we visiting the cargo carrier factory. Nick is the General Manager at the factory and he introduced me to his team and gave me a tour. Ivy came with me from the company and I sat on their meeting with the customer that came along from his company in Shanghai for the meeting. His name was Harry and his colleague was Devin. They both spoke a little English so I was able to have a conversation with them. This trip will be a very good experience for my career and it was nice to get out of Shanghai for a day. 
me with the two customers on th left and Nic (r), the manager of the factory

That leaves me with company pictures before Grace and David leave for the U.S 3 week trip where I will be joining them in MN for their vendor conference at Northern Tools. We took a company picture and it reminded me of getting my own family picture taken with all of the people. Once we took the group photo, everyone wanted an individual shot with me. I have had the best people to work with during my time here and will remember it always!

the company minus frank and Derek!
The General manager Vincent and CEO David (l)
More pictures to come and this last week is going to be bittersweet!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Time Flies!

Wow, the time has flown by so fast! I only have 13 days left in China before I head home back to Minnesota. These past two weeks have been the busiest at work and I have gotten a lot accomplished. The meat processing project was completed after working two days overtime. I also was assigned to give some internal training to all the staff so I presented to them how to create effective powerpoints american businesses approve. I also had a verb refresher course for them to brush up on their grammar. Mr. Thiem would be so proud of me. My biggest project yet was pitching the e-commerce business proposal for my CEO David. I just completed that project yesterday and received good results and feedback so I am very excited and relieved! That was the project that was assigned to me before I arrived in China and it took a lot of researching and time spent here to successfully drive the company in the correct direction for future e-commerce. This has been a very interesting industry to work in and learn about.  I will be able to apply all that I have learned to many other industries as well.
Other happenings in the past days I will share a photo and a quick story!

Mass at St. Ignatius Cathedral in Xu Jia Hui,

Two Sundays ago, I headed out early to find this cathedral because I enjoy seeing the catholic church in other parts of the world. After getting off the subway station and taking very lucky guesses as to which direction I should be walking, I found the church crosses peaking out of the sky around a corner. I went to walk in and found out that the English mass was starting in 5 minutes so I was able to attend mass as well. It was a nice mass and great way to start my week in China. You couldn't take pictures inside but it was very beautiful and reminded me of S.S.P.P church back at home in Mankato.

Chef Vincent cooks home made Chinese food for us at our apartment
This past Sunday, my boss came over to our apartment and brought 6 Chinese dishes cooked at his home for us to eat. We had a large group of me and my roommates Tyler and Joe, along with Michael and my landlord Janee. We got our apartment ready for all the guests, purchased a cake for dessert, watermelon for a snack and even made egg drop soup from scratch to pitch in. Vincent was also sure to bring some bijou and wine for us to try. The food was very good and we enjoyed afternoon that turned into an evening of conversation and great food and drinks. This will be one of my favorite memories from China.

Shopping and Ladies Night with Janee
Janee our landlord is so friendly and has been so great to us during our time spent in China, it is not very often that a Chinese landlord will let you live in their space for only 2 months. She has taken us out for dinner and helped us with whatever we needed. On Wednesday this week, me and her met up for some shopping a good dinner on a famous shopping street and then we headed over to Brown Sugar a bar for ladies night. In Shanghai, almost everywhere on Wednesday's is ladies night where girls drink free. What a treat! There was a live band at Brown Sugar and we had a great night of dancing and listening along to the music! It was a really fun night and I hope to have a couple more ladies nights with her before I leave!

I have a lot to accomplish in these last 13 days left here.  . I am also looking forward to my farewell dinner that my company will be throwing for me, we are going to a new Chinese restaurant that has just opened up followed by some good ole traditional Chinese KTV (American karaoke). I better start practicing a song! On Wednesday I will be travelling on a train to Qingdao to visit one of our company's factories with my co-worker Ivy.

Stay tuned for the end of my trip!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tourist Time

This post is dedicated to post pictures of all the touristy sites in Shanghai , they may be crowded but they are worth seeing!

Yu Gardens
This is a very busy place and full of tourist traps (ahemm tea scammers). It is located on the Line 10 metro stop. It is full of modern shops housed in old Chinese architecture. The gardens are a bunch of little lakes full of fish and the famous tea house. It is a great place to bargain for souvenirs and other trinkets at all of the bazaars. When I was in the gardens, I was asked to take a picture with multiple Chinese people. When one person asks then all of the others around want a picture too. It's pretty funny. This is a great place to people watch.
The Huxingting Teahouse

The colorful fish in the water!

A street in the Yu Garden's Bazaar

Jing'an Temple
This is one of the cities most revered places for worship. It was closed during the cultural revolution, but was rebuilt and has been open since 2006. There are a lot of worship places and buddha statues everywhere. I was able to go on a weekday so it was not crowded and I could easily see everything.
Looking out from the top of the steps

Chinese sashes

In Jing'an Temple with the skyscrapers in the background

Big Buddha!

Shanghai Museum
This Museum in located by People's Square. I went there early on a Saturday morning and waitrd in line to get in for a good half hour. The lines are so long because admission is free and you have to go through a security check before getting in. The museum displays a number of galleries including calligraphy, landscape, jade, pottery and cultural clothing. My favorite thing to look at was the calligraphy and paintings on scrolls.

inside, the building has a main level and three floors

The Shanghai Museum in People's Square

one of the paintings diplayed on scrolls

The Bund and People's Square

The rainy nightime skyline

Still crowded even with the rain

People Square is located in the heart of Shanghai. It is the definition of a shopper's dream. There are stores, resturaurants, boutiques, theatres and street performers all down and around the well known Nanjing Rd. There are always crowds of people day and night and I love coming here just to soak up China. This Bund is signature landmark of Shanghai. I visited here in a thunderstorm in the pouring rain on a Friday night and during the day and it is fascinating whatever weather or time you are seeing it. I really enjoy walking along the riverside, it is also a good place for walking and people watching for an entertaining afternoon or evening.

That's all for now! I will be posting again soon with new updates!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Life at Forcome

During the product video shoot
Work Work Work!I have been keeping very busy in the office. I am finishing up one big project which included a business proposal with Masterbuilt and Sporting Good Stores in the U.S. Their CEO John McLemore was in China for the week and was visiting our company to see the new product line. I made a lot of product spreadsheets comparing our products, prepared catalog and packaging descriptions for the products, and helped set up the showroom for display. This week, John came and proposed that we recorded a video to pitch our line to potential buyers so we got that ready and started shooting today. I am thankful that I took a media aesthetics class last semester because I am able to help alot with the shot types and storyboard for the video. This has been a very exciting and rewarding project.

held the script just right!
My next big project is preparing for the Northern Tool National Vendor Conference that will be held in Minnesota. I will be flying home and attending the fair with David Wang, the president and Grace Lee, the senior sales manager the second week in August.  Me and Grace are responsible for preparing our booth layout, products that we will be displaying there including cargo carriers and LED work lights as well as prepare all of the promotional pieces such as banners, gifts, and flyers. I have been sending many e-mails back to the U.S. contacting people for registration and preparing our booth setup. We have a long to do list but everything is ahead of schedule and running smoothly. I am excited for the conference to be able to  pitch our products to the buyers.

When I am not working on those products there is always other work to be doing like contract reviews, catalog edits, website editing, promotional flyers for new products, translation, my e-commerce proposal and I will also be teaching the sales department more about social media and giving them some grammar refreshers! I am really gaining experience in all departments and more and more about international trading and manufacturing. Everything from logistics to marketing to product development, I have been able to help with it all.  I love all of the people at my company, even though some of them can't speak English, they all make me laugh. I especially enjoy playing Foosball after lunch, they are REALLY good. They really enjoy hearing all my American slang words when I'm playing like "Shoot!" or "Oh man!".

Company Dinner

On June 29th, our entire company along with the factory managers when out to dinner to celebrate the half year report, which was good. A traditional Chinese business consists of a private reserved room with big round tables holding a large lazy susan that spins all the dishes around. Laura and Ada went to order all the delicious food. The weirdest thing I ate was pork tail and I ate a pea size. Honestly, the only reason I ate that much is because everyone was watching me and wanted me to eat it! My favorite was the spicy noodles and eggplant. My Boss David and Vincent told me at the beginning of the dinner there was only one rule "No drunk, no go home". That is what the Chinese businesspeople do. You have to "cheers" with everyone at the table and they have to cheers you back. The factory managers made sure to "cheers" more than once with me. It was a fun night hanging out with everyone and there was a lot of delicious food. At the end of dinner, Vincent told me we were going to go get foot massages with his wife. I can't say no to that. It was a very nice place and the foot massage that included a back massage lasted 2 hours. It was amazing. I hope to go to one more of those before I leave here. My feet were happy campers in the morning, you walk a lot in China.
The fancy dinnerware

ONE of the delicious dishes of food

The whole gang!
My feet's favorite place in Shanghai

In the month I have been here, I have so many stories and experiences already! I am a lucky girl. Stay tuned in a couple days to see pictures from work!I think a day trip is in order for the weekend, not sure where.

Friday, June 29, 2012

What's Up Beijing?

This past weekend, it was the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival. This is a Chinese holiday so we all had Friday off of work. We were hoping to see some races in Beijing, but the nearest race was a two hour trip from the city. We were able to watch some of the races on the TV in our hostel.  We started off the morning early to get on a 7am speed train which would get us there in 5 hours. We almost missed the train, but got to the station with 15 minutes to spare. Traveling with guys who go with the flow has REALLY tested my patience because like arriving places early. We arrived in Beijing around noon and got a taxi to our hostel, our hostel which I had no idea what it would be like, but it ended up being okay to stay in for at least two nights. The life of a college student !

We spent our afternoon touring the Forbidden City. What a remarkable place, it was so big and open, All the walls pretty much looked the same but once we entered the "gate of heavenly purity" it was a garden like and green area. After we got through all that commotion filled with massive amounts of tourists, we stopped for a snack for an hour. I don't know what is was about Beijing, but most of the taxi drivers refused to take us in ther car unless we paid them an upfront fixed fee rather than using the meter so it took us a long while to find taxis that would bring us to our destination with a normal meter.
Tyler Me and Joe in the Forbidden City

After our feet were rested up, we went and checked out the always busy Tian'an Men Square. We arrived just in time to see the changing of the guards by the big flag pole. So many people crowded around to watch it, then we became famous and all the Chinese people wanted to take pictures of Michael because he is Jamaican. Many people out and about would stop and ask our group to take a picture with them. It was quite funny and brought me back to Rome where they would also snap pictures of us.
busy Tian' an Men Square

Saturday morning was our adventure to see and climb the Great Wall. We took the subway to the train station and finally got tickets after standing in two lines. We were waiting for our train to depart and all the passengers were just packed in the line anticipating to get on the train, there were tons of open seats to just sit and wait it. All the sudden the gate opened and they all just sprinted to the train! We were trying to figure out why, and we found an answer when we got to the train and found out there was no more seats and we would be standing/sitting on the ground for a good hour and a half. haha, we laughed about it and that is when we met two men from Bangledesh. One guys name was Jahved and the other Jahangir. These guys ended up spending the whole afternoon with us and man do we ever live in a small world. When we told them we were from Minnesota, he said that he studied at Mankato State University in 1994. I was shocked not only that he has been to MN, but he lived in my hometown out of all places in the United States to go.
Michael, Tyler Jahved and Me (Jahangir was too tired from climbing for the picture :)!

The great wall was mindblowing. It was built so so long ago and here it is still standing today. It was pretty foggy outside because it was raining but I think that made the views and the experience even better. We sure got a workout in with all the steep hills and never ending steps. After we got back tot he entrance, we picked up some souviners tand headed back to the train station so we wouldn't have to stand again! Fail, even though we were in line, we got on the train car and it was full so we were standing again for a good hour and a half in the aisle, not even the open train car. Even with our best efforts, we couldn't beat the sneaky and quick tactics of chinese trains.  The trip to the wall was the highlight of my Beijing weekend experience.
The Wall of the Walls

The fog really added to the environment

Saturday night we hit up the expat street of bars and got a good meal and enjoyed some live music. After that we headed back to our hostel and met some other travelers and talked until we were tired.

Sunday I woke up and read a book in the hostel hang out waiting for the guys to wake up. We had a couple hours before we needed to get back on a train home so we walked through the rain because no taxi would pick us up, and finally found one that would take us. I was ready to get back home to Shanghai just ask Tyler (a.k.a. Positive Pete). The only train tickets back were business class so after standing on trains on Saturday, we enjoyed comfy seats for the way home.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for work updates, company dinners and massages!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Suzhou Adventures!

Hello all! Here are a couple highlights of last weekend and work this week.
Preparing the tea to drink!

Traditional Tea Tasting- On our way to the Yu Gardens Saturday, Me and Joe made a change of plans and attended a traditional tea festival. I learned alot about chinese tea customs, lucky numbers and what teas are good for certain people. The young girl presenting the teas would have a laugh attack every time that I looked at her because she couldn't speak any english (hmm laugh attacks remind me of someone I know who can't control her laughter in public settings!) it was really funny and Jo and I started laughing too. The water was heated at just the right temperature for each different tea and we used different cups and tea pots for each different kind.
The place where we tried Chinese tea

Pudong Library- On Sunday Morning before we headed on a train to Suzhou, I got up early to go to an art exhibition with art displayed by my friends Sofina and Tina’s high school art professor. He is very well known and famous in Shanghai and all of his artwork was very interesting and pretty. He has many different styles but my favorite was the blended colors that make up one big picture. After we looked at all of the paintings, he gave me one of his books and signed his name and the date in Chinese in it for me. He was a very kind man and I am glad Tina and Sofina invited me. The Pudong Library is a pretty cool building, it has a very relaxing atmosphere and a lot of different architecture.
Me and the artist who signed a book for me

Me, Sofina, Tina and Mia at the Library

Suzhou- Sunday afternoon we got on a high speed train that took us to Suzhou, a water town close by Shanghai. Tina, Mia and Sofina also joined us for the trip. We arrived around 2:30 and got out right away to explore. We hit one of the many gardens there, there was a bunch of rock cave pathways to walk through and pagodas and lily pads and we walked around and took a lot of pictures. It was raining all day but we still had a lot of fun taking pictures in the gardens. After the gardens we hopped on bike taxi’s and the peddled us all the way to the big 8 story pagoda that we climbed to the top of to get a view (and some exercise). We climbed down and then walked around to find a place to eat supper. Tina, Mia and Sofina ordered all of the food and they did a good job. We were going to go to the river and hop on a boat for a quick ride, it was pouring rain and very hard to grab a taxi to take us there and we didn’t know what bust to hop on so we just walked and walked and walked some more asking dozens of Chinese people along the way  how to get back to the railroad station so we could get on a train home. What a task that was, we were pointed every single direction and walked. Even though it took forever, I was still able to see the town and the people more. It was nice to get back to the apartment and relax for a short time before I went to bed because I had to wake up for work in the morning. I really enjoyed exploring this small city and hope to get to at least two more in my time left here.

 The Pretty Gardens
Catching a bike ride to the pagoda in the rain! Notice our tourist hats :)
Posing with Buddha !
View at the top of the Pagoda!

This week at work I learned the 3pm daily stretch that they all get up and dance/stretch to, it is a pretty funny and awkward time at work. I just like to look at it as a very easy zumba dance. I go to the way back so none of them can see me guess which move comes next because the whole song is spoken in Chinese and I just mirror my co-workers actions. I am working on editing their website and have been working on marketing materials for the vendor conference I will be attending with them in MN on August 4th sponsored by Northern Tools. This means my flight has been switched and I will be heading home four days earlier than planned so I can be at the conference with them. The preparation for the conference and actually attending it will be a great experience. I am learning so much and really dipping my toes in a lot of different areas of business. On Wednesday we celebrated my co-workers Derek’s birthday with cake in the afternoon.

Derek making a wish!
my co-workers watching derek open presents!

Food- When we are on the go or eating dinner late at night, something that is always good is street food, vendors kabob up tons of vegetables and meats on skewers and lay them out on a table. You pick up the ones you want and hand them over to be grilled over coals. It is the closest thing I am going to get to a barbaque until I get home. It is good stuff. I particulary enjoyed the grilled eggplant, mushrooms and beef. Another thing I tried today was a chinese hot pot. You sit at a table with a propane oven top built into it and order your food. They bring out a big pot of the food with liquid in it and your food boils in front of you and you order vegetables and meat off the menu of your choice to add in and cook. Its like a huge stew and all the flavors work together making a great dinner that is easy to share. We had a mushroom bowl and added lamb and alot of green vegetables tonight. I definatly want to go eat another hot pot in the near future. So tasty!
The finished product above and all the choices below!! Look at those fish!!

I leave on the train for Beijing at 7am this morning so I am excited togo see the old city and climb the great wall. I am sure there will be some good stories and experiences to share in my next entry after I return.

Keep checking back for more!!