The quest for wisdom, from France to China, of an HEC MBA & Tsinghua MBA dual degree student (class of 2011)
Posts Tagged ‘Travels’
First I would like to apologize for leaving my blog for such long period (over 3 months!) without any updates. Of course I could say I was busy and then recovering but it doesn’t justify much…
During my second semester at Tsinghua, on top of classes, I have been busying myself with the MIT China Lab program and my Tsinghua graduation thesis.
I arrived in China last Saturday and I’m in Japan since today, on holiday, until the Tsinghua registration on August 25th.
In the length of 5 days, I managed to open a bank account, visit 14 flats in the Wudaokou area and finally sign a lease for me to move in when I get back on August 24th. I also met about 15 of my new Tsinghua classmates, and then I couldn’t help but think of when we did the same thing with HEC admits, a year ago.
What can I say about these 5 days… It felt like being ran over by a truck!
But the internet connectivity in China is so damn slow!
So here I am. I came back home to Paris a couple of hours ago after a 7 weeks holiday trip which brought me to China, Japan and Tahiti.
Everything’s good :)
On Tuesday, during a trip to Kyoto, I was visiting around with some friends and as we grew tired of walking, we started to look for a café to sit down and relax for a bit. The café we found by the imperial palace was like nothing we’d seen before.
At first, we didn’t understand how to behave at the Free Café Harimaya Station. It seemed like just any self-service café in Japan, only with the exception of cashiers. Indeed coffee, tea, juice and even rice crackers were completely free of charge. This concept, we later found, had been developed by a successful confectionery company to “give back” to society and promote traditional food, in their case rice crackers (senbei), and environmental awareness.
The café wasn’t a place of only benevolent goodness as a small shop counter was conveniently located a few meters from the free café. By instituting this free café, Harimaya Honten managed to attract people, make them feel good, and even buy their product and offset their running costs!
Their philosophy also caught my attention as they were careful of making rice crackers in traditional, and more environmentaly-friendly, as opposed to sterile industrial ways. Pictures of their factories showed them more like Japanese country houses with beautiful gardens than the typical concrete blocks.
Since I’ve visited this café I can’t help but think of how this new model for marketing a quality products could be applicable in other circumstances. Could this café exist in Western countries or in any place outside of Japan?
When visiting China for the first time in 2004, one of the things that struck me was that, when in China, one should switch one’s mindset to another scale for everything altogether. And it’s not based just on demographic or geographic statistics. Here, everything is bigger.
Well, it may not apply to everything (such as the size of a roast duck), but I don’t think I’ve ever seen city parks as big as Beijing’s own Beihai, Zonghai and Houhai gardens. Not even mentioning the Summer Palace park which doesn’t really count as a city park and lays by the 4th ring. If the notion of city ring doesn’t mean anything to you, think of the nice peripheral highways that border your city. Paris has two: the Périphérique and the Francilienne. Beijing has seven of them… Oh, and did I mention it? They’re bigger.
This year, one of the reasons why I went to Beijing in the first place was to visit the Tsinghua University with which HEC has a double MBA degree agreement. A nice lady from the Tsinghua SEM IMBA admission office greeted me and we discussed about the application procedure. Finally, she gave me their IMBA brochure and invited me to visit the campus. Now I must mention that students typically travel between different academic buildings riding a bike. I’ve seen some people do it with a taxi. We walked… and going from toward the South exit (where SEM is located) to the North exit (by the dorms) took us 40 minutes.
Today, I’m in Xi’an, home to tens of thousands terracotta warriors. Flying tomorrow to Shanghai and its two world tallest towers, then flying back to Beijing and its world biggest airport…