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China's Mysteries

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UMD students and students from Nankai University gave joint presentations on business and economic models.

Business & Economics in China: Study Abroad

At the Great Wall
Aaron Fregard at the Great Wall of China.
Hidden city
Ancient and amazing architecture impressed the group.
Hidden city
The Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace in Beijing.
boat race
Dragon Boat Races at the Dragon Boat Festival in Tianjin.

UMD students interested in international business and economics took off for China this summer with Professor Dahui Li. They immersed themselves in international business and economic development in Asia’s financial center, and they learned some of the Chinese language along the way. Best of all, they had a first-hand encounter with China’s rapidly changing business environment.

Beginning in May 2014, Professor Dahui Li, from the Department of Finance and Management Information Sciences, and 13 Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) students traveled to Beijing, Tianjin, and the Shanghai area of China.

The students on the trip included: Aaron Fregard, Mitchell Wright, Tanner Roberts, Kevin Mathiowetz, Adrian Low, Miranda Aarons, Peter Tan, Cody Reilly, Ryan Bussey, Daniel Nash, Greg Schullo, Laura Schumack, and Michelle Westby.

"The program emphasized experiential learning, and it allowed LSBE students learn about Chinese business and the economy," said Li. "They actively engaged in different lectures and activities both inside and outside of class and trips have been so successful, several past students from the program have started to study or work in China. Some recent students are also planning to do so."

All of the students contributed to a detailed LSBE China Blog about their experiences on the trip.

The study abroad group spent time in Beijing, the capital city of China, learning about Chinese history and culture. They visited the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace, along with many other cultural and historic sites such as the 2008 Olympic park.

In Tianjin, the students were hosted for classes in Chinese business and economy at Nankai University. Classes started with morning sessions at the university and then, each afternoon, they took field trips to Special Economic Development Zones and local businesses. Possibly the best part of this university-to-university partnership was the opportunity for U.S. students to study, complete projects and give presentations with Chinese students.

The Nankai University experience as well as the field trips, taught the UMD students how to do business in China and how to work with Chinese people in order to understand the challenges and critical success factors of doing business with Chinese companies. 

Daniel Nash said, "My most valued experiences were those spent with locals – joining them for meals – listening to stories about their personal backgrounds – hearing their hopes and dreams. I was impressed by the thoughtfulness and generosity of the students we spent time with at Nankai University. We come from different circumstances and cultures, but we have much in common; our experiences are overwhelmingly human." 

The group traveled by train and made short stops in Wuxi, Suzhou (called the Venice of the East), and Hangzhou. The last home base for the group was Shanghai, a city of contrasts: the old and the new. Some of the highlights included The Bund, Shanghai Museum, Oriental Pearl Tower, and the Garden of Contentment.

The course provided students with an understanding of the social, cultural, economic, and political environments in China. They learned the fundamental knowledge of Chinese business and economy from a global perspective.

Laura Schumack said it was a great experience. "I had the best time of my life so far, and I met some amazing people," she said. "Our group branched out and were open to trying new things and going on adventures. I would highly recommend that every UMD student study abroad at some point during their college career. Traveling to China was not something I ever saw myself doing, especially for an extended period of time, but I would not take back one second of the time I had there."

LSBE China Blog

For more information about the UMD International Education Office, contact: 218-726-8764 or see

Group Dinner University Ceremony
UMD students enjoy a traditional Chinese meal in Nankai with their hosts. The meal started with dumplings dipped in sauce. Yum! U.S. students and Chinese students worked on projects together and paired up to give presentations at Nankai University.
Airbus Factory Bank Visit
The group had a tour of the airbus factory in Tianjin. SPD Bank shared their corporate story with the group.
University Ceremony University Ceremony
Professor Dahui Li (right) receives a gift from the Nankai University class. Students received awards for their work at Nankai University.
Olympic City Temple
Olympic Park in Beijing. Kevin Mathiowetz at a Chinese temple.
Karaoke Ferris Wheel
A little karaoke goes a long way at making friends. The Tianjin Eye is a giant Ferris wheel built on a bridge in Tianjin, China.

By Cheryl Reitan, July 2014.

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Cheryl Reitan,

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