By Philip Webster
After a brief fifteen-hour flight, Tiffany and I arrived in Shanghai on Thursday afternoon. Upon arrival I was seriously questioning my decision to pull an all-nighter the night before we left Maryland. I was trying to reset my body clock on Day One of this trip and planned to be so tired on the plane that I would sleep the whole time on the plane and arrive in China completely ready for action. I don’t usually sleep well airplanes even when I’m exhausted, so I brought a sleeping pill to make sure I could get some quality zzz’s just in case. Unfortunately my desire to watch the in-flight movie, Night at the Museum 3 (don’t judge) counteracted some of the soporific effects of the Ambien and I only slept for about four hours. So, the first thing I did after arriving in this amazing country for the first time was take a nap.
After this brief delay we hit the town in search of food and I quickly learned that “moped awareness” was a skill that I would need to develop. Mopeds here apparently have the right of way in all circumstances and are allowed to go pretty much anywhere including the sidewalks. They are everywhere and since they are mostly electric it means that they are operating in stealth mode and can come whizzing past you on the sidewalk without you hearing them approaching. (Side note: the internet just informed me there are 3 million mopeds and scooters in the city) Luckily we have good travel insurance because there’s a 90% I will be run over by one in the coming days. I’m going to try my best and avoid this fate because I’d hate to miss out on anything in such an amazing city.
We walked around the Bund our first night, had a great dinner and learned that we’re really bad at negotiating with Shanghai taxi drivers and only moderately bad at explaining where we want to go. Luckily we soon discovered that Uber works in China which is cheaper and less confusing. Plus, the Shanghai metro is very easy and extremely cheap. On our second day here (several of us came to Shanghai a couple days before the actual start of the challenge) we ate at a really cool restaurant called Fortune Cookie, that specializes in American-style Chinese food, which the expats and American tourists LOVE. The food and service were top-notch and we all agreed it was a great business idea and we would like to copy it somewhere else in China and make our millions. I suggested we also open a Domino’s Pizza in Rome, but nobody else thought this was a good idea.
My overall first impressions of Shanghai are overwhelmingly positive. To me it has that same kind of vitality and energy that other big cities like London or New York have, but with a unique Chinese twist. Like those other cities, though, I know I’m not going to be able to see everything I want in just a few days.
Phillip Webster is a 1st year MBA student at the Smith School focusing on entrepreneurship. Originally trained as an actor and musician, he received a BFA from Northern Kentucky University and an MA from Aberystwyth University (Wales). After working onstage and behind the scenes in the arts for many years, Phillip enlisted in the U.S. Air Force to become an Arabic translator. He graduated from the Arabic program at the prestigious Defense Language Institute and served four years before returning to civilian life. Phillip is currently pursuing entrepreneurial ventures in the arts, language and education sectors.