First Impressions: Shanghai

Maglev Train Shanghai

430 km/h and you don't feel a thing!

I’m already a little tardy on my posting, as these “first impressions” really constitute my morning after impression!  Regardless, the photo above says it all in terms of where China is in their path to ‘developed nation’ status.  The Maglev train, traveling 430 km/h, took us from the airport to downtown Shanghai in 7 minutes.  By the time I took a few photos of the speedometer, it was already time to get off the train!

The 14.5 hour flight yesterday was a breeze; it’s funny how you can get used to that level of discomfort, once you do the journey a few times!  As always, the person in-front of me in the Continental sardine box didn’t realize that his chair wasn’t broken, just that he was trying put the chair through my kneecaps.  We came to an agreement in the end; I put my knees on the back of his seat, then forced him to where I would allow his seat angle to be.  Problem solved!  Speaking of the Continental flight, I thought it was special that there was a bit of ‘rain’ on the inside from condensation moving through the cabin by the overhead bin.  Thankfully, it wasn’t dripping on me, but the guy across the aisle from me wasn’t so lucky.

After getting situated at the hotel, me, Ryan D., and Vijay headed over to Ian’s flat, literally across the street.  From there, we had a traditional “Ch-Ian-apino” dinner; not quite Chinese, not quite Filiapino, tasty all the same.  Mushroom soup, mixed veggies, black bean chicken, pork dumplings…and ample beer.  Ever the gracious host, Ian already had a few cold ones waiting for us when we got to his flat on the 19th floor, and I was Suntory Beer able to partake in one really tasty brew called Suntory.  For all you Dukies on the way, Suntory obliterates Kingfisher in terms of taste and drinkability.  It’s good with food, it’s good alone…it’s good for when you are walking down the street (I did all three!)  I’m still getting used to the fact that beers outside of the U.S. are a half-liter, or even 600 ml like this Suntory was.

After a long night of food, fun, and good friends, I got back to the hotel around 12:30 a.m., and promptly passed out.  I think it’s fair to say that there will be some jet-lag today…at +12 hours, I’m at the exact opposite of my normal schedule.  In a few hours, I’ll be back on a plane, off to Guilin Airport, to eventually land in Yangshuo.  This ought to be a fantastic few days!

In other news, grades finally came out for the 3rd semester, so I guess we can finally pronounce that chapter in our MBA experience to be complete.  I can’t say I’m disappointed in my grades, but I didn’t get the double SP that I was hoping for.  I’ll settle for the SP in Statistical Modeling though; I’d have been completely embarrassed otherwise.

Safe travels to all of you still in transit!  Oh, and btw, for all of my fellow Mountain Dew drinkers, I found the tasty green elixir no problem yesterday.  A residency first!

Respite? I wish.

I’ve just finished my final exams for Duke CCMBA Term 3. Total time: 10.8 hours on statistics, 8.2 hours for marketing, 4.9 hours sobbing quietly at my desk about not having studied more.

As the program has six terms, in a sane universe this would mean I’m half-way done with my MBA. Sadly, I’m not even done with Term 3 yet. And anyway the end of Term 3, officially April 7th, isn’t really the half-way point.

First, I have the Delhi Culture Dash video to produce. My team has succeeded mightily with a divide-and-conquer approach, so for each the three projects that remain in Term 3 (two, technically, being term 4 projects due before term 4 officially starts), we have one project author and one reviewer. I volunteered for the video project when the entire team thought it was due April 6th. It’s actually due Thursday. I’m guessing this is another 10 hours of work. Good thing I have all that time to do it, otherwise I’d continue sobbing at my desk.

Second, Term 6 will really be two terms. During the residency we have four classes, then after the residency we have two 6-week distance periods, with two sets of finals.

Third, the chronological midpoint of the program is actually April 11th.[1] So, really, we’re almost there, though I suspect the psychological midpoint will be April 25th, when we leave Shanghai. Or maybe December 12th, the day before the thing ends.

Sorry about that. I may have spent too much time doing statistics this weekend. I will now retire to the pub, with The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, which I need to finish reading (for Global Markets and Institutions) before next week.

[1] The program officially started with Term 1 pre-reading on 8 August 2009; our last final exam is due 13 December 2010; that’s 492 days; so 246 days after August 8th is April 11th. QED. If you use the first day of the London residency, August 15th, as the starting point, the midpoint is April 14th.

This post is reprinted with permission from the author.  You can follow David’s journey through the Duke CCMBA program and the rest of his daily life at The Daily Parker.