As part of my dual studies, MANN+HUMMEL is giving me the unique opportunity to spend 11 weeks in Shanghai. On 12th April, as I stepped aboard the flight from Frankfurt to Pudong, China, I knew that I would be entering a foreign country with a different culture and language and keenly anticipated what would await me. I arrived in the excessively cooled airport building (this is generally the case here in air-conditioned buildings) and went through the thorough, but most courteous and friendly, visa and passport control.
The first thing that strikes you about Shanghai is the huge mass of people you see everywhere. Although I come from a large Hanseatic town and am quite used to being in a crowd, the concept of ‘metropolis’ takes on quite a different dimension here.
The impression I gained on arrival was reinforced over and over again as time went by: Chinese people are extremely friendly and helpful. Whether you want to know where the underground travels to or you can’t find a particular street, everyone – regardless of how good their English might be – tries to explain and answer your question.
My hotel is in Jiading and thus situated quite close to our plant. Jiading is an overwhelmingly Chinese area rarely visited by foreigners. It is therefore highly unlikely, when looking for something to eat, that the person you are talking to is going to understand you. Through sign language and lots of patience from the seller, however, you will finally get the right food in the right quantity.
The city of inspiration
Some food in China is quite unusual, but in the short time I have been here, there is nothing that I haven’t really liked. Eating with chopsticks, however, takes some getting used to. As you might expect, it is easy to grasp bite-size pieces but eating a pork steak with chopsticks is an art I have yet to master.
I am however not here in on holiday but am supporting local colleagues in carrying out a market analysis. I was warmly welcomed and integrated into the team on my first working day. I also held the first meeting on my project and was able to pick up many ideas.
I have only been here one and a half days so far, but my first impression is really positive and can be most easily summed up by a single word: thrilling!