TRANSPORTATION IN CHINA IS ALSO EFFICIENT AND INEXPENSIVE
In fact, most of the students gave positive – even glowing — reviews of Chinese transportation systems overall. “I was blown away by sophistication in Shanghai,” says Matthew Beardall, 37, a JP Morgan Chase market president who spent two weeks studying in China as part of the OneMBA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “It had wide, straight highways and city streets with multiple levels so there’s room for deliveries and speedy driving. I’d just been in India and the difference was remarkable.”
The local cuisine also gets high marks from U.S. students. “Shanghai has the most international selection of food in China,” says Fang, who has a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. “There’s Korean, French, American, or anything else you would want.”
While Americans will have no trouble finding high-quality food at prices lower than those found in the U.S., they should by no means expect developing-world prices for nice bistro meals. Sure, street vendors sell greasy meat kabobs or fried noodles for less than $1, but Western palates generally only tolerate so much of that fare. “The cost of food was a surprise to me,” Twitchell says. “I didn’t budget properly. It’s not this romanticized version of [living in China] – eating noodles and rice all the time isn’t that great. You get cravings for Western food. You can go to T.G.I. Friday’s and Sizzler here, and you’ll pay more for it than you do in the U.S.”
As such in any world city with a plethora of construction sites and new hotels, shopping malls, and housing complexes, the cost of food and housing can only be expected to rise.
BUT DON’T EXPECT CHINESE URBAN AREAS TO BE GARDEN SPOTS
And certainly, the presence of shiny new buildings doesn’t mean Chinese urban areas are any garden spots. “I think Beijing is one of the toughest cities survival-wise,” Chang says. “You might have to fight for a taxi for 40 minutes. Traffic is rough, pollution is bad, and it’s always either too hot or too cold. But it helps you grow as a person.”
Perhaps the most bankable way for U.S. MBA students to grow as job candidates, however, is to resist the temptation to speak English in their spare time: Graduates who can’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese fluently will almost certainly find themselves shut out of lucrative corporate jobs in China.
Even Americans with a proven knack for picking up such romance languages as Italian and French shouldn’t kid themselves about the prospect of learning a tone language like Mandarin or Cantonese. “I can speak Mandarin at networking events, and I have many friends who don’t speak English,” McMahon says. “But I started learning Chinese before I came here.” Anyone who wants an MBA-worthy job in China would be wise to do the same.