The China Experience- NOC Shanghai

 

We’ll be having a NOC special this post! NOC interns would share be sharing their experience and life in NOC China (Shanghai & Beijing).

If you’re wondering what NOC is, the NOC (NUS Overseas College) program under NUS Enterprise brings students like myself to different parts of the world to work in local start ups, study in local universities and to immerse in the local environment and culture for a year. We have 2 batches every year – June Intake & Jan Intake & for anyone who is considering on embarking on a challenging yet fulfilling opportunity to work and study overseas.

To get the ball rolling, I’m Xie Ying a Y3 student from NUS studying Project & Facilities Management under the School of Design & Environment. I study part-time in Fudan University and work full-time in Advocacy Asia, a WOM & Engagement Marketing Agency.

Being a part of the NOC program also allows us to learn and meet people in the China Startup Ecosystem through first hand work experience, hackathons, entrepreneurship sharing sessions and more. We also take on projects to push us to create new business ideas and pitch them to gain feedback & determine the possibility of making our ideas into actual businesses.

Living in Shanghai is awesome – you get to taobao EVERYTHING like a washing machine (yes my housemates and I taobao-ed a washing machine) and experience the magic of the cashless system. We always joke in that in China, you can survive without your wallet and bank cards, but you cannot survive without your portable charger.

Throughout my stay,  I was constantly amazed at how technology has made living in China so seamless. With just a few taps, I can order food and have it delivered in 15 minutes, order fresh and frozen groceries and have it delivered within an hour, and purchase anything and everything I need. China is really the place to be if you’re looking to gain a forefront of technology development.

DID YOU KNOW.. China has 34 Provinces and 14 states.. This also means that we have SO many places to travel to!! As seen from the above few photos, I’ve travelled to Huang Shan, Xinjiang, Suzhuo and Zhang Jia Jie.

XinJiang – Xinjiang borders the countries of Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan & Afghanistan and is part of the historical Silk Road. I travelled to XinJiang in during China’s Week-long National Day Holiday (黄金周) with my housemates and some the places that we visited were Urumqi, Kanas National Park and Hemu Village. It was Autumn then, and the weather was getting cold and we were super fortunate to witness a beautiful snow fall over the most magical view at Kanas Lake. During our 2D1N trip at Kanas, we managed to catch the first heavy snowfall of the season as well! Hemu Village was another exceptionally beautiful place where we rode horses amidst the snowy mountains. We really felt like we were not in China anymore with the view that we were waking up to.

Huang Shan is china’s highest mountain and directly translates to Yellow Mountain. I managed to do a short 3D 2N trip where my friends and I climbed the mountain in a day, caught both the sunrise and sunset and visit a lovely historical village nearby. Huang Shan is known to have spectacular views every season and if you have the chance, It is really a must-try mountain to visit when in china.

There are so many places to visit, so many good food and so many incredible things. My favorite food in China is definitely 烤鱼 which is fried/steam fish cooked in a Mala broth and served with whatever ingredients you want like mushrooms, cabbages, tofu. But there are SO many other good food like 煎饼,火锅,烧烤, 云吞 and even if you’re not a mala fan and feel like eating something else for a change, China is filled with beautiful cafes all around!!!

Hey guys! My name is Cheery and I’m a Year 3 Political Science major from NUS. I did an NOC Shanghai programme! I’m a Marketing and Business Development intern working at iHR Technology.

In Shanghai, we work hard & play hard! The startup scene in Shanghai is bustling. If you think life in Singapore is fast-paced, and we live in a technologically advanced country, you’re right… but not completely so. The craze for speed and tech advancement in China is on another level.

What amazing about Shanghai:

The city’s unique nightlife: Hidden bars (think traditional neighbourhood hairdresser… that turns out to be a classy bar with great drinks), beautiful speakeasies (check out Speak Low, the second best bar in Asia; Liquid Laundry, etc if you’re here).

Inspiring learning experiences: There are just so many hackathons and entrepreneurship events to attend here (Startup Salad, Startup Weekend, Startup Grind, NUS/NTU/NP-organised speaker series…). Pitching our business ideas to investors in Mandarin and networking with knowledgable people from all over the world has been really fulfilling!

Of course, it’s not all work and no play. My housemates and I went travelling during Golden Week – a week-long holiday to celebrate China’s National Day. Our five-day Inner Mongolia trip started off with a 33-hour sleeper train ride – Yes, if you’re a student on a tight budget, think of it as saving up for future trips, and finally repaying your sleep debt. Hulunbeier is absolutely beautiful. We arrived when autumn was in full swing, and anywhere was pretty much tumblr/natgeo-worthy, especially at Hulunhu and the famous grasslands (大草原). Inner Mongolian cuisine was unexpectedly impressive. Protip: if you’ve always been eating gamey lamb chops and hate it, here is the time to try bbq lamb skewers (known as yangrouchuan 羊肉串). It melts in your mouth, has no smell at ALL and you’ll not regret trying lamb again.


To round off Inner Mongolia, we went horseback riding, before heading to Manchuria, which was more of a built-up city than we originally believed! The nightscape in the main city area was absolutely stunning. Closer to Russia than we’ve ever been, the cultural juxtaposition here is definitely something tolook out for.

This year, to kick off 2018, my fellow interns and I headed to -20 degrees Celsius winter wonderland that is Harbin, China! Finally, the place where you can throw boiling hot water into the air and it would turn into small ice crystals in front of you… which we did try, so many times. I wore four top layers and three bottom layers, before shielding myself with a long down jacket, but it was still freezing anyway. Protip: Be sure to arm yourselves with 3-4 heat packs a day, place two in your gloves and two in your shoes to stay outdoors for long, if you want to head to Harbin when it’s coldest!

Thankfully, the views during our adventure in Harbin made braving the cold worth it. Among the many attractions, the best intricate snow/ice sculptures and scenery were at Sun Island (太阳岛), Erlanghe Forest Farm (二浪河) and Snow World (冰雪大世界). We were really lucky at Snow World because we caught the opening fireworks! remember to bring your student card if you want to enjoy student cost privileges, because it is otherwise expensive 😉

Also, one of the biggest highlights for me would be skiing in Harbin for the first time –  it was so worth it because we only paid SGD 27 to ski for the whole day at Maoershan (帽儿山), inclusive of ski equipment, clothing and transport – thanks to local friends that we met on our trip!!!

Last but not least, the other highlight of Harbin is the awesome Dongbei (东北) food that is cheap and really good. Didn’t try the silkworms though, which my brave friends did. 

Hey everyone! My name is Amos, a year three Mechanical Engineering student reporting in from Shangtown in the Middle Kingdom. So I decided to embark on a year long internship/exchange/travel-ish thing in a program called the NUS Overseas College program in Shanghai and along with 24 others flew to the city on a red-eye flight to find our golden opportunity in this big city. A Singaporean boy with horrible mandarin and a distaste for spicy food in China, what could go wrong right?

So I did my internship in a company called WisQo, an IoT start-up who provides smart solutions to local and international enterprises. The company is mostly staffed by Chinese employees and comprises both a technical and business development team who work together to come up with integrated solutions for potential clients. Like most of my batchmates, I also study at Fudan University as well as take classes conducted by NUS itself. Balancing between work and school and constantly changing my mindset from a working one to an academic one hasn’t been easy but definitely fulfilling.

So the city itself has been pretty fun I would think, and one of the best things about Shanghai is that the city is incredibly vibrant and diverse with a very international mindset, and yet is able to maintain its Chinese roots and way of life. You definitely feel like you are in a different country with a completely different set of rules but don’t feel too far from home. We often hear stories about China being a land of risk-taking and opportunity but you don’t really feel it until you actually come to the country itself. Cashless isn’t simply a catch phrase in Shanghai, it is a way of life. As with an incredibly well designed bike sharing system, a crazily efficient service industry or an unrealistically organized logistics/travel network that serves more than 1 billion people around the country.

Shanghai is also one of the most active cities I have ever been to with events, competitions, talks, festivals, you name it, being organised almost every day of the week.

Now,  I’ll be talking about some of the common misconceptions surrounding China~

1) Chinese people are rude and only care about money

True, but also not true. During my time in Shanghai, I have been rudely shoved back into the metro by middle aged men wanting to get a seat, nearly cheated of my money at least three times by three different vendors and got my queue blatantly cut by some dude who wanted to change his train tickets. But in that same time period I was also very kindly hosted by a Chinese who not only let me stay for free but also brought me around his hometown and got a free breakfast from a migrant worker stranger from Changshou on the train because he saw I didn’t bring any food. So my conclusion is that China really is just like anywhere else with its fair share of good and bad people and your experience really depends on your luck.

2) China is boring

Sure I won’t be able to bask in the beauty of the Northern Lights or take a rover down the Grand Canyon. But in its place are historical locations and natural beauties which you will never be able to find in any other part of the world. China is after all a huge country which territory encompasses vast deserts in Inner Mongolia, Islamic beacons in Xinjiang and beautiful spring cities in Yunnan. In addition to these are also nearly endless events and festivals within Shanghai itself which indeed makes it the city which never sleeps.

3) Only Chinese people can survive in China

There is a common misconception going on that only Chinese people will be able to survive in the harsh landscape that is China and that foreigners would get their heads ripped off by the ever confusing Chinese regulations. While these concerns are not completely without reason, they are also not entirely true as well. There are a significant number of students, expatriates and tourists who thrive in the city because they are able to adapt quickly and know the right people to get their plans moving forward. The messy environment in China can be intimidating at first but one will be able to get used to it with the right mindset. And with that I conclude my takeover! Drop me a text if you have any queries regarding the program

Hey hey I’m Samantha and I’m from NOC shanghai! I did my internship in start up fashion tech company FASHORY FUSE. I’ll be sharing a little bit about my company in this post!

FUSE brings in different mid to high end designers/Brands (international or local) into shanghai with the aim of helping them increase their distribution points. To put it simply – we are Taobao with a twist. We don’t own any products and yet, we sell. What’s special about us is that we offer a unique mix ofoffline and online platforms for designers to sell. Offline platforms would include pop up stores and online, WeChat stores.

I even had the chance to go to suzhou to launch our first pop up event of the year! I was at W Hotel Suzhou where we will be featuring different brands every month. The purchasing process is very cool. (Well, if you’re from China you’d probably think that this is just an Everyday thing) Simply scan the QR code on the product to purchase and we’ll ship the item right to your doorstep! Pretty cool huh!!

This is just a simplified version of how seamless everything is in china, and just a tiny part of why I love China so much!!

(On a side note – if you’re a designer/lifestyle brand etc and you’re interested in featuring your products with us…… 发个微信给我吧)

I think the general impression people have of china is…. eew. When my peers found it that I’ll be going to China for my NOC trip, they respond with “huh why??? China so gross”. Funny thing is – these are the people that haven’t been to China!

Sure you meet your everyday Olympic spitters, people that shove you in the train and cut your queues…. but I’ve also met some of the sweetest and heartwarming people here. I would say I’ve never met a person here who was unwilling to help me out when I was lost/didn’t understand what the hell was going on/being said. They have been so patient with me as I try to explain myself in my very terrible mandarin, cab drivers so encouraging and kind as I try to converse with them.

China is incredibly beautiful, its people and its landscapes. Here are some pictures of my favourite places: 丽江 (Lijiang) and 黄山 (yellow mountains).

To end off the sharing from me and my friends from NOC shanghai, what I’d like to encourage everyone is to have an open mind when travelling! Don’t let public opinion deter you from trying new things (eg everybody says China is gross so you don’t give it a shot – c’mon….) every place you go to is a learning experience – open your heart and your mind and you’ll be so amazed at the things you’ll find! (this was a very unintentional rhyme it sounds so corny……)

 

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