As second year Oregon MBA students, we experience the trip of a lifetime for two weeks in September to Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore. This trip was filled with trips to visit companies, amazing food and company, and plenty of time to explore. Students from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center took some time to highlight their favorite memories and experiences from this incredible trip.
What was your favorite experience in Shanghai, Beijing, or Singapore and why?
The Sports Matters conference was quite the highlight of my trip. We had the opportunity to attend the most important sports conference in Asia at the Marina Bay Sands. During the conference, we met professionals of the industry from different locations, such as China, Thailand and Australia.
My favorite experience had to be the Great Wall of China. I never really thought too much about it before actually being there and walking along the wall. How something of that size was built on top of these mountains and is still there today is mind-blowing.
Being able to visit the Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena in Shanghai with Charles Humphrey Smith was a great behind-the-scenes experience that one could only get through Warsaw’s connections. Not only were we given a private tour of the heavily-guarded complex, but we also learned a lot about the political structure of sports in China, specifically Shanghai, that you don’t hear too much about unless you’re talking to someone who has experienced it first-hand.
My favorite experience was the Formula 1 practice in Singapore. I have a huge passion for the sport of Formula 1 racing and to see the cars up close was beyond amazing. The speed, the technology that goes into the cars and the love that fans have for specific manufacturers and drivers. The American market hasn’t embraced Formula 1 much like a country like Singapore. The sport has helped put Singapore on the global sports landscape and provides the opportunity to bid on additional events like junior world championships and the upcoming Rugby 7’s.
I most enjoyed the visit to the Olympic Village in Beijing. I remember watching the Olympics back in 2008 and it was incredible getting to see the facilities that made that type of event possible. I personally enjoyed the tour of the Water Cube. As, a former swimmer seeing the pool where Michael Phelps won a historic eight gold medals was definitely a highlight of the trip.
What was the best meal you had on the trip?
Ismael Nunez Oliva:
Chinese hospitality can be overwhelming. As part of the Chinese culture, you need to provide as much food as you can when you are hosting. Some days, we were invited to taste local Chinese dishes that were an explosion of flavors and weird components, such as duck heads.
As great as the large family meals were– and they were amazing and stomach-filling — my best meal was when I went off the beaten path and explored the Hutongs of Beijing. (Alleys formed by lines of historical, traditional courtyard residences.) There, I discovered Mr. Shi’s Dumplings, a Euro-friendly modest restaurant where I was treated to various combinations of steamed and fried dumplings. (The pork, cheese and coriander combo was the best.) Sampling duck head or other non-traditional food items during family meals were great, but it’s hard to beat a well-served plate of hot dumplings.
Breakfast at the hotel in Shanghai was my favorite meal of the trip. It was the most epic breakfast buffet that you will ever see. I seriously spent 2 hours every morning trying to make it to every buffet station. Also, the meals with duck were amazing. It is like a better version of turkey.
What was your favorite company or site visit of the trip and why?
I enjoyed our visit to Sport Singapore the most. We had the chance to work and engage with different professionals on a two hour workshop about specific obstacles of the local sports industry. In addition, the opportunity to visit the National Stadium in Singapore was overwhelming and we ended up our visit with a small game of Netball against SportSG. We had a close game but at the end we lost.
I really enjoyed going to the NFL activation in Beijing. The NFL is still working through how to market in China, and seeing a true activation was a great learning experience (and super fun to take part in). I thought they did a great job of using technology to promote and make their activities more fun and engaging, but also very easy on the “consumer”. I enjoyed hearing about the challenges that China is facing with the NFL, but more so how they are going about tackling those issues.
My favorite company visit was to a hat factory in Shanghai. We received a tour of the entire facility and were walked through the process of making a hat, from idea generation to fabric selection to manufacturing. It was incredible to see the inner workings of a factory and I was amazed at how many famous brands were made under the same factory roof. We then got to explore their showroom and learn a little bit more about their sales process.
My favorite company visit of the trip was the Sentosa Golf Course in Singapore. I really enjoyed the presentation as well as the tour of the grounds. I also felt it was a fun experience to share between all of the centers.
What city did you most enjoy and why?
Each city was great for its own reasons. If you were dropped in the middle of downtown Shanghai, it seemed like any other large city in America, except much bigger. The lights and buildings at night were amazing along the river. You could find other people who spoke English and stores and restaurants that you recognized. Beijing was great because it was the first time I really felt like I was in China. The Great Wall was an experience I’ll never forget and a few of us got to check out the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Singapore was very interesting. It didn’t seem like there was a stereotypical Singaporean culture or person, just a mix of all different types of cultures, and on one tour they were explaining to us that the country was growing by using imported sand to increase the size of the island. Pretty wild if you ask me. Being somebody who had never been to Asia before it was very eye-opening. There’s so much to this world that would never cross your mind until you go out there and experience it for yourself.
I had the best time in Singapore. It’s such a mix of so many cultures and despite the almost unbearable humidity, I wish we had some more time to wander around. Singapore’s history and culture is just so fascinating, including the fact they’ve built up 20% more land by being the world’s largest importer of sand. Since we have such a good relation with SportSingapore, we had inside information from our peers and past trips of where to go all around the city-state. I’d love to go back.
My favorite stop of the trip was Beijing. I enjoyed all of the rich history and culture of this city and definitely felt it was the most educational. Visiting the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven were just a few of the amazing places I explored while in Beijing. The food was very authentically Chinese and there were street vendors set up every night selling all sorts of exotic creations such as tarantula, shark, and silk worm.
What advice do you have for future students going on this trip?
To make the experience more rewarding, I would advise all students to do research on China’s political and social culture. Having even the most basic understanding will allow you to go more in depth during conversations with speakers who have graciously taken time out of their busy day to speak with students from across the Pacific. Also, you’re only in each city for a couple of days, so having an understanding of where you want to go and what you want to see during your downtime can make a huge difference between having a so-so experience and having an unforgettable one.
Explore the cities during your free time. The long days of networking can be exhausting but you might only go to Asia once in your life. Take time to just wander out and explore the city. Wake up early in the morning or defer your naps until your return to Eugene. Cherish the time you’ve got overseas and make the most of it.
Go! No matter what. This is a once in a lifetime trip that you definitely do not want to miss out on.