September 16, 2019

Study away spotlight: A semester in Shanghai

Fangyi (Harper) Lan is a student in the BS Hotel and Tourism Management. She will be spending this semester at NYU’s global campus in  Shanghai. She tells us more about her experience so far.

What are your initial thoughts and reactions to your study away experience in Shanghai?

I was both excited and nervous about how things would be in Shanghai. Even though I grew up in China, I have very limited knowledge of the college life here. Therefore I thought this would not only be a great opportunity for me to learn and be a part of the transformations China is experiencing right now, but also a period of time for me to discover more opportunities and lifestyle possibilities, besides from what we have in the great Big Apple. I believe the world is much bigger than we think: the study away experience definitely enables us to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, and to try to understand the differences we have in values, politics and culture.

What are the most noticeable cultural differences you have experienced? 

I would say the office culture here is very different than in the U.S. Having worked in a boutique creative agency in New York, it took some time to get used to the fast-paced schedule I have right now in the P.R company I am interning with. We have more colleagues in a big office and there are smaller desks for each of us. The company runs on professionalism and emails, and with all the big accounts we handle, we barely have time to stop and mingle with people who sit next to us. Here, working overtime is very common and we as interns can all feel the intensity and pressure in the air. I think most of these differences are due to the fundamental differences in our economy. In China, the market is too volatile and the competition is extremely radical, therefore we have to be more agile and be able to adapt quicker to help our clients keep up with the trends. It also indicates that we may see great potential to expand and many new ideas emerging in the marketing industry in China.

Are there any challenges that you have come across so far?

So far, the only challenge I’m facing is the subway system in Shanghai. There are just so many districts and subway lines here and it can be frustrating when it takes me three transfers and 1.5 hours to get to a certain restaurant. The city is enormous, much bigger than New York, so it’s a great spot for those who love to travel and explore. The subway here is much cleaner too!

Is there a favorite memory or moment that you have experienced that sticks out to you? 

I have many great moments already although the semester has just started. When I was volunteering for a hotel conference here, I met so many people who have common connections in New York. It made me realize how amazing it is that we are all connected, no matter where we go. I am enjoying all my classes so far, especially the Business Consulting in China and Luxury Marketing courses. My professors are just fantastic and offer us tons of opportunities to talk to industry icons and to do site visits with many companies. I thought the classes here would be somehow “easier” than those in New York but found out they are just as challenging, helpful and interesting. I love my internship here as it has pushed me to learn more skills like creating WeChat posts or forming daily clippings for clients. I also love our alumni network and how it has helped me getting multiple conversations started and going.

What do you hope to gain from studying away in Shanghai?

I want to experience another lifestyle and learn to slow down and appreciate things that might be minor at first sight. I want to learn more about China, the country I grew up in and understand the potential and barriers for it to keep growing. I want to expand my networks here, make more friends and talk to more people to learn about their stories. I want to see if there is potential for me to serve as a bridge between the hospitality industry in China and U.S. I will also be working with HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International) Asia Pacific to further develop its membership and educational programs in mainland China.

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