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Spring Break: USC takes China

This spring break I was given the opportunity to travel to Beijing and Shanghai with the Global Leadership Program (GLP). Last spring, I was invited to GLP right after I was admitted to USC and I knew that a global experience my freshman year was something special. I had never traveled abroad before, so getting my passport, going through security, and flying on a 14-hour flight was all new to me – but I loved every second of it.

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Financial District in Shanghai

When we arrived in China, it was 6am and we were ready to explore. The first day, we took a tour of Shanghai – new and old. We explored the streets and markets, experiencing what it was like to live in the amazing city. Afterward, we had an elegant dinner at Lost Heaven, followed by a walk next to the river of the Bund.

Hotel View in Shanghai

In addition to the constant exploration of the city life, we explored businesses in Shanghai and Beijing. We learned from huge corporations like Hyundai, Yanjing Beer, Volvo, and AEG, as well as smaller businesses like Fashionista, Plastered 8 Tees, and SJS Hippo Animation. These companies shared their individual experiences engaging in global business and illustrated both the struggles and opportunities of going global. Hearing from these business executives has inspired me to eventually explore global business and integrate new cultures into my professional and personal life.

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After exploring the business world, we were able to further explore the city. We got the opportunity to climb The Great Wall of China, explore The Forbidden City, watch a Chinese Acrobat show, eat a Pecking Duck dinner, and try eating spiders, scorpions, and fried bananas. Being immersed in an entirely new culture was both eye-opening and exhilarating. I had never known what it was like to be in the communicating minority. So many times I experienced the struggle of talking to Chinese-only speakers and trying to order food or buy merchandise. This experience has inspired me to try and learn new languages so that I’m not restricted by language barriers when exploring new cultures.

Post-lunch picture in Beijing

The Global Leadership Program is an experience unlike any other. This opportunity doesn’t exist at the majority of undergraduate business programs for freshman. Most administrations at other universities don’t believe that freshman are mature enough to gain much from a global experience, but Marshall has faith in their students and knows that international experiences have value. This trip to China has been the highlight of my freshman year and I know that it made an impact on the other 80 students in the course.

Forbidden City in Beijing

After this trip, I know that I want to eventually study abroad my junior year to have a full semester’s experience of new cultures. I am extremely grateful that USC and Marshall gave me my first international experience — an opportunity to bond with my peers and discover a new part of the world.

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Posted on March 22, 2016 by Erik Rocha

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