Over these two weeks, we were able to become a lot more comfortable living in this unique culture. We became accustomed to ordering food by just pointing or by showing them a photo. We figured out how to get around using the subway system and we got better at finding fun activities to do at night as a group.

During the second half of the trip, we experienced riding the sleeper train and spending a weekend in Xi’an. During this cultural excursion, we visited the world-famous Terra Cotta Warriors and experienced exotic food at the Muslim Street Night Market. This weekend getaway was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

Something that I found fascinating about China was the prevalence of State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s). SOE’s are companies in which the majority stakeholder is the Chinese government. These were frequently brought up by our professors at BJTU an we also had the pleasure of visiting two of the largest ones, China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). Both of these companies operate in the engineering sector and they collaborate on some projects while competing for others. The main difference is that CRCC focuses on government-oriented projects (such as High Speed Rail construction) while CCCC is more oriented towards the global market.

One thing I developed over the course of this trip was a new appreciation for how seriously the U.S. government takes environmental protection. There was frequently a thick layer of smog in the city and breathing could sometimes be difficult. While the U.S. does have its fair share of environmental issues, I feel truly blessed that we can have air of much higher quality, even when our factories are running.

Visiting China was a fantastic experience and I made a lot of great friends. While I don’t see myself living there long term, I would love the opportunity to visit again for business or tourism purposes.