Archive for July, 2018

2018Jul 9

SPAD in China Series: University Life

Katie Profile Picture copyBy: Katie Pittman

Structured, rigid, focused. These are just some of the words that come to mind when learning about university life in China. Our group of students and professors had the opportunity to stay at the Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics (ZUFE) in Hangzhou, China for the first nine days of our stay in China. Students from the university accompanied us to all of our activities and outings and as a result, we were able to get insight into what it is like to be a student in China. While there are many parallels that can be drawn between university in China and in Canada, there are significant differences that became apparent.

Undergraduate programs are typically four years with students beginning their studies at age 18 or 19 which is very similar to Canada. Another similarity to the structure at Laurentian University is that a school year at ZUFE is divided into two semesters. Their school year starts in September with a month off in January and two months off in July and August. While Laurentian students typically take five classes per semester, ZUFE students take more than double that number as they are enrolled in eleven classes each semester. Each year, they must also complete a comprehensive report on a major economic problem that they are to work on throughout the school year. Laurentian and most Western universities put an emphasis on a well-rounded university experience that encompasses more than just academic performance. However, in China, the focus is placed more heavily on academic excellence. There is significant pressure imposed on Chinese students to succeed and less than perfect performance is viewed as unacceptable.

In Canada, mandatory physical education class typically ends after grade nine. This is not the case at ZUFE and in other Chinese universities. Students are required to take physical education class every year of their undergraduate program. At ZUFE in particular, they take swimming class for one semester each year and are given the choice of what sport they want to study in the other semester. They have the choice between sports such as the martial arts, badminton, table tennis and basketball. In addition to these mandatory classes, they must also complete mandatory morning runs. Based on their performance in the previous semester, students at ZUFE must complete a specific number of 2 mile runs each semester. These runs must be completed between 6am and 8am each morning and must be finished within a specific length of time or the run does not count. We thought this would be hilarious if implemented at Laurentian as we could not imagine having some our students run every morning, especially that early. The strict nature of ZUFE was further evidenced during our campus tour. In order to enter certain facilities, such as the fitness areas, students must seek permission from a teacher. We were very surprised by this discovery and the students’ lack of independence as we are able to move freely around our campus at Laurentian as long as we have a student card.

Picture 4Another apparent difference was that living in residence is mandatory. While students in Canada are given the choice as to whether they live on or off campus, students at ZUFE must stay in residence even if they live walking distance from the university. There are four people per residence room compared to a maximum of two per shared room at Laurentian. There are also regulations that require students to stay on campus from Monday to Friday each week and there are imposed curfews. The residence areas, as well as the university building areas, are gated with security stationed outside. If a student is not in his or her building by curfew, there are serious repercussions. These are drastic differences when comparing university life to that in Canada and at Laurentian. Our students have the ability to live off campus and come and go as often as they please and at any time of day. This strict curfew contributes to the very structured life of the students at ZUFE. There is lack of freedom as students are required to spend much more of their time studying. However, similar to Laurentian, ZUFE has many different clubs and societies in which students can take part. They also have varsity sports teams that compete against other universities. However, some of the sports they compete in are different than ours as they have teams for martial arts, badminton and table tennis along with the more typical track and field and basketball.Picture 3

Overall, there are many similarities but significant differences between university life in China and in Canada. It was an incredible opportunity to be able to spend time with ZUFE students and discuss the differences between our two universities. There are many more rules and regulations that are imposed on the students at ZUFE, however, there are many aspects of their university life that are very similar to that at Laurentian. It would be quite funny to adopt some of the same rules at Laurentian as I cannot imagine telling some of our students that they need to be in residence by 8:30pm and that they need to run every morning at 6am. From what I have learned, I am very grateful for the freedom and independence we are given at Laurentian. Our students are able to succeed academically while enjoying a well-rounded university experience.

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2018Jul 8

SPAD in China Series: Modern Life in China

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 4.06.02 PMBy Mackenzie Jenkins

Getting off the 14 hour flight from Toronto to Shanghai, I was ready to take in all that China had to offer. Included in this, is the modern lifestyle that has similarities and differences to modern life in western countries. With a focus on the four categories of transportation, bartering for goods, housing, and technology, we get a glimpse into the everyday lives of those living in China


There are many means of transportation when it comes to getting around China and through the populated cities. During our two weeks we had the opportunity to take busses, trains, taxis, and subways, to get to our destinations.IMG_1084

Taxis in China are a number of different colours which designate whether they are an independent company or part of a taxi union. The independent companies have purple coloured cars whereas each taxi union has a designated colour to them. Customers use taxi apps similar to Uber to hail a taxi in the populated streets. This is also a country where you can barter with the driver for a lower fare. Although, with the increase of technology, it is making it more difficult. Many tourists still get ripped off by taxi’s who take longer routes that are prone to traffic to raise the fare price.

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 4.20.19 PMThe bullet train was a convenient and quick way to get from Shanghai to Beijing, and can be used throughout China. The bullet train is the fastest passenger train in the world, taking just 5 hours to get from Shanghai to Beijing going 350km/h. The train was smooth, took us through mountainous regions, and gave us a unique look at the Chinese countryside. A suggestion would be to make sure you are on time for your train as they leave exactly on time. We would know this as we were caught running through the train station, luggage in tow, trying to make our train.

Our primary mode of transportation when in China was a bus. This means we were extremely susceptible to sitting in traffic with the millions of others trying to get from point A to point B. Things got extremely creative when driving in China as it seems as though the lines on the roads, as well as some stoplights were merely a suggestion. 4 lanes held 6 cars across, and if enough cars went at one time, the colour of the stoplight was irrelevant. This made for interesting road trips, and made us thankful for good bus drivers our entire trip. Adding to the chaos that was driving in China, there were also copious amounts of bikes that followed their own rules of the road.

Bartering for Goods

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 4.20.07 PMBartering for goods in China was an experience all in its own. Not very often in North America are you able to walk into a shop and name your own price. At many market style shopping centres you would be able to barter for goods, often purchasing the item for 1/5 of the original price. In Shanghai we visited the Yu Gardens (pictured) where we got our first taste of bartering for items. When in Beijing, we had the opportunity to go to the famous Silk Street market where you are expected to barter for anything from souvenirs, to custom fitted suits. We spent a lot oftime here honing in on our bartering skills in order to get the best price for our goods. Here are a few tips for bartering when in China:

  1. Be friendly! They’re more likely to give you a good price if you’re not fighting with them.
  2. Don’t show an extreme amount of interest in a product. If they know you really want it, they know you’ll pay a higher price for it.
  3. Starting to walk towards the door when bartering, as if to leave, puts pressure on the sales associate, often leading them to give in to your lowest price.
  4. If you are ok with the amount they’re offering, don’t miss out on the item for the chance at a lower price.
  5. Buy multiples of the same item! If your friends want the same item, discounts are often given if purchasing multiples.


Housing in China seems to have the policy “build up, not out.” Most people tend to live in apartment buildings, which are smaller than the average apartment in North America. In the outskirts of major cities, it common to see 15 – 20 identical looking apartment buildings in a cluster. This seems to be necessary to meet the population demand in growing cities.

It was also noted that gardens were a sign of affluence in China. The family did not necessarily have to have a house with a garden, but simply enough space on an apartment balcony to fit both the hanging laundry, and a small garden of plants was considered to only be for the wealthy. Laundry was seen to be hung from every apartment balcony.


Technology is king in the increasingly innovative cities of China. Everything is done from a smartphone, and cash is seen to be dying out. Alipay and WeChat were used on phones to scan barcodes to pay for goods everywhere. We even tried to use cash to pay for ice cream and they laughed at us because they hadn’t seen anyone use cash in a long time.

Further, instead of using multiple social media channels, everything was under WeChat. WeChat is a social platform that is their primary mode of texting, calling, video chats, paying for things, and even had a dating website built into the platform.

Automation is becoming increasingly popular, including the robot that served at a Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 4.19.48 PMjuice stand in a shopping complex in Hangzhou. You told the robot your order and he made it on the spot. Although this is a neat idea, I wouldn’t want to be taking away jobs from the millions of people that live in these cities. While visiting the Alibaba campus, a quote from Jack Ma was brought up that they want to train computers to do what we can not do, rather that what we can do.

The Alibaba group specifically is doing a lot with technology to aid traffic problems, quickly and efficiently ship products around the world, and decrease China’s carbon footprint.

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2018Jul 7

SPAD in China Series: Chinese History and Culture

Chiarelli profileBy: David Chiarelli

While in China it was evident that their history and culture had very deep roots. Unlike Canada, the source of their culture can be traced back thousands of years. In Canada most of what we do and why we do it can only be traced back 150 years.

In Canada there are many cultures that make up our identity. Some refer to Canada as a tossed salad because of all the different cultures under one roof. We have adopted many cultures to form our own. In China it is different. There is one consistent culture throughout. You can tell that many traditions have been passed down for centuries. Every part of their culture has a deeper meaning or a story behind it. All the volunteers who helped us along the way were always eager to educate us on why certain things meant something, or how something came to be. There always seemed to be a legend or story behind everything, and they always knew it. You could tell right away that they had so much passion and pride for their country’s’ history. Judging by how much our volunteers knew on the culture and history of China I began to think it was the norm.Chiarelli

There was culture and history everywhere we went in China. From the Great Wall to the Forbidden City, to the food we ate. Culture was all around us. We were fortunate to experience a lot of it by doing. We were taught Kungfu and Thai Chi. We learned about ancient Chinese script through a calligraphy lesson. Chinese calligraphy has eight strokes, The eight strokes act like an alphabet. Different combinations of these strokes make up different words. We saw how important tea was to their everyday life and saw how they ground tea leaves in ancient times. We listened to music performed by students who used traditional instruments, and then were able to play them. We Chiarelli 4ate with chop sticks every single day. We experienced extreme heat and found out why people in China use fans and umbrellas so often. We climbed the Great Wall which was built over 600 years ago. We experienced what Chinese soldiers had to endure to protect their country. The cultural experiences were endless, and they all tied in with their rich history.

Every part of Chinese culture and history has a deeper meaning. China’s history dates back centuries, but still to this day Chinese people are practicing traditions that have never died. The Chiarelli 2best way to be a part of their culture is to live it. China has one identity with very deep roots that will continue to grow for generations to come.

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2018Jul 6

SPAD in China Series: Sights of Beijing

Schwabe 7By: Gabi Schwabe

To conclude our once-in-a-lifetime trip to China, SPAD took on Beijing. Although our stay there was short, it was the place in which I made my favourite memories. The major sights we experienced were the Beijing Olympic Park, the Forbidden City, and last but certainly not least, the Great Wall of China.

The Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games still inspire me; from the splash of Michael Phelps winning a record 8 gold medals in the pool, to Usain Bolt running away with three gold medals and three world records. I had a lot of anticipation leading up to our visit to the Olympic Park, and it did not disappoint. We had a tour inside the Ice Cube, which in 2008 was known as the Water Cube (National Aquatics Center) but is one of the structures that is being transitioned for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. It has started to take place with the renaming of the Water Cube to the Ice Cube. This was where they held the diving and swimming competition in the 2008 Olympics. It was incredible being inside the bleachers, I felt like I had gone back in time and was cheering the swimmers on. We learned that after being refurbished, the facility will be used for curling.Schwabe 1

Inside the Cube there were many displays showing the early construction stages of the Olympic Park and some of the history behind the Beijing Games. We also toured a water park, and a small exhibition dedicated to the overseas Chinese and compatriots who offered their support to the Beijing Olympics. We learned that the Water Cube was the building that received the most donations from the largest number of donors from the most countries and regions. This building is an icon and is seen as an everlasting symbol of the solidarity of the Chinese nation.

Schwabe 6After the Ice Cube, we walked across the street to the Bird’s Nest. During the 2008 Games this was home to the opening and closing ceremonies, athletic events, as well as the soccer final. Walking through the gates to the ground level, I felt butterflies before seeing the track. We rode the gold VIP escalators and could look out to see the stands in the distance. Standing in the bleachers and looking across the entire stadium was an indescribable feeling. I could imagine the seats full, everyone on their feet, watching Bolt make history.

The Beijing Olympic Park was my first experience inside an Olympic venue, and it proved just how much is involved in one of the biggest international events. To have gotten the opportunity to tour this venue is an experience I will cherish. The Olympics require so much international cooperation, sportsmanship, and dedication, and having this experience in China made me realize that Beijing will make an excellent host city once again in 2022. The people we met were kind and respectful, and despite cultural differences, the volunteers that hosted us always made us feel welcome.

Schwabe 5We concluded our experience with two of the most popular sights of Beijing during our last and hottest day in China. With temperatures reaching 36 degrees Celsius and the humidity making it feel even hotter, we set out early in the morning to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square, one of the largest city squares in the world, sits in the centre of Beijing. It was interesting to see the security officers policing the square and performing drills. Tiananmen Square was in the global spotlight in 1989 when hundreds if not thousands of people were killed by police during protests for democracy. After passing through the square we entered the Forbidden City which served as home for Chinese emperors for almost 500 years. The palace features traditional Chinese architecture, which was absolutely breathtaking.

Schwabe 4After spending the morning at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, we hopped on the bus to Juyongguan Pass and the Great Wall of China. Many of us fell asleep on the bus, due to the heat of the morning on the pavement, only to awake to a lush mountainscape in the Guangou Valley. We quickly refueled with a traditional Chinese lunch at a local restaurant then started our trek up the Wall. The Juyongguan Pass is a scenic part of the Great Wall, featuring lush forests and streams. The World Heritage Site was built over two thousand years ago as a military stronghold. The steps varied in length and height, making the climb extremely challenging. At times, it felt like you could fall off the edge. We passed through 12 towers to reach the highest point. I had made it to the seventh tower when my fear of heights overtook me. I sat down while the rest of the group Schwabe 3continued walking. For a moment, I felt like that was enough; I could stay there and wait for my peers to finish the trek. As I took in my beautiful surroundings, I reminded myself how proud I would be after reaching the top, and that if I just took it one step at a time, I might be able to get there. Reaching the summit was exhilarating and a personal achievement. The view was amazing with mountains stretching off in the distance on one side, and downtown Beijing on the other. It was a spectacular way to wrap up our visit to China.

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2018Jul 5

SPAD in China Series: Sights of Shanghai

Carter Blog Profile copyBy: Carter “Blooming Flower” Harrison

After a 2.5-hour bus ride which was spent sleeping off the last day’s activities, we had arrived at our next destination, Shanghai. From the more tamed campus life in Hangzhou to the hustle and bustle of downtown. Off one bus and onto another, meeting our new guide Steven for the next chapter of our journey.

After dropping our belongings on the new bus, we walked around an area with several commercial malls. Prices were similar to those of back home if not more expensive in some of the designer stores. Marketing of these stores and other business was quite apparent as huge signs covered the huge buildings. With so much space on these skyscrapers for possible marketing usage, it could be a great asset in the future for sport. From the shopping center we moved on to another shopping area called the Yu Garden. Unfamiliar with the name, I expected a beautiful garden unlike what I may have seen back home. I was very surprised to arrive upon another shopping outlet area that little did I know, would test my nonexistent bartering skills.Harrison 1

Yu Garden is home to an abundance of traditional items to a knockoff version of anything you can imagine. With its temple-like feel, it was quite pretty seeing all different features that resembled olden architecture. If you are half decent at arguing with someone about any topic then you might have a shot in China as long as you are reasonable. When attempting to buy things, which conveniently have no price tags on them, the store owner will throw out an outrageous number that makes you laugh. But this is just how the game begins. After a quick back and forth over the price you’ll have them down to as close as you can get them to your desired price without having to pull another move out of your sleeve. The clincher I learned for getting the price I wanted was to slowly walk out of their shop shaking my head. Although this made them slightly upset, all they really wanted was my money so they would yell back to me and accept my price offer.

From the Yu Garden we travelled to The Bund, a must-see while visiting the area. Featuring the second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower standing at a whopping 632 meters is almost 100 meters more then the CN Tower to put it into perspective. SHarrison 2hanghai has no shortfall of skyscrapers to marvel over.  Across the river is the tower along with several other corporation’s buildings. We would come back to this area the next night to see it at night time. It was quite the adventure due to it being the Dragon Boat festival so thousands of people manifested to this spot at night.

Our last adventure of Shanghai led us to SILC University wherHarrison 3e Alex, our international coordinator on the trip, went to school. We did a short presentation about what university life in Canada is like and then listened to them present about university in China. Following this we took part in a lesson on how to make traditional knots which did not seem to be my forte. Afterwards we walked along old road and through a museum.

To cap off our last night in Shanghai, Hugo (the international manager from the Faculty of Management at LU) set up a beautiful dinner with a few LHarrison 4aurentian Alumni. Traditional dumplings whilst having our second experience with the round table with the spinning glass center plate. This is a traditional way of eating as there are bowls of food on the center plate and you slowly spin it as people grab what they would like to eat as it goes by. It is a fun experience to be a part of because if you’re not paying attention for half a second you may have missed your chance at getting seconds of your favourite dish.

On June 18th we headed to the train station to just barely catch our train to Beijing. We had arrived with almost an hour until our train departed but almost missed it when there was a mix-up with our tickets. Luckily enough, our guide Steven and Alex managed to get us on our train just in time. The bullet train in China goes over 300 kilometers an hour which is the fastest in the world. We travelled over 1,300 kilometers in just 4.5 hours which is astounding and a true testament of how fast the train travels.Harrison 5

After one of our famous ‘Grotos’ as we called them (Group Photos), our guide Steven paid me with a compliment. “Very nice, very nice, you are like a blooming flower!” Laughter filled the table as we all did not know how to react to his words. He elaborated and said it was because in all the photos I always had a big smile and seemed to be shining. After realizing what he meant, I thanked him for his kind words. And that is when I got the nickname Blooming Flower for the remainder of the trip [Editor’s note: you’re stuck with that SPAD nickname forever, Blooming Flower].

In relation to the future of sport management and more generally business itself. Shanghai is an epicenter of many huge corporations worth millions if not billions of dollars. Seeing all of these mesmerizing businesses and skyscrapers opened my eyes to the fact that Shanghai is a very rich and prosperous area. From a marketing perspective specifically, a lot of these buildings have electric boarding on their exterior walls. This allows them to put light displays on at night or run an ad across their building. Although the expense is high, the return on investment can pay dividends if sport franchises could broadcast, standings, highlights, player and game updates. This could lead to a greater interest due to consumers regularly seeing these adverts displayed everywhere they go. I see the future of marketing and branding in China leaning towards using such large assets. An example of marketing that we saw was during our visit to The Bund at night. A boat cruising along the river was very well lit and had a big Visa sign perched on the top of the boat so everyone along the shore could see it. This was a great piece of marketing due to the mass amount of people that were there and saw it. This can be another way marketers and sport business people can look to market to massive broad audiences in the future.

To say this was an amazing trip is an understatement. It was truly an eye-opening experience that I will be forever grateful for. A SPADventure of a lifetime.

2018Jul 4

SPAD in China Series: Hanging out in Hangzhou

Crowe profileBy: Kirsten Crowe

After a long few days of travelling we finally arrived in Hangzhou, excited to see what our first destination in China had to offer us. We were warmly welcomed into the Zhejiang University of Finance & Economics (ZUFE), where we would be spending 9 nights in residence. During this stay we learnt lessons about traditional Chinese calligraphy, Kung Fu, Chinese university culture, zodiac lessons and much more. Most importantly, we were able to immerse ourselves in the many beautiful and eye-opening sights that surrounded us. Hangzhou would be the smallest of the three cities we were visiting – with an impressive populationCrowe 7 of 9.468 million. To put that size into perspective, Hangzhou is nearly 3.5 times the size of Toronto. The visible amount of high rise apartment buildings helped to put the population into perspective. Arriving in Hangzhou provided quite an eye-opening experience as well as the opportunity to compare my expectations to the reality that China is.

Over the 9-day span we were fortunate to visit the following sights: The Singapore Business Center, West Lake, Jinlun Sport School, the National Tea Museum’s beautiful green tea plantation where we learnt about China’s long history and evolution of tea, a beautiful light display in downtown Hangzhou, a riverboat ride through the Grand Canal to see various fan/umbrella and history museums, a cross-border e-commerce company, the Alibaba campus, and finally the 2016 G20 Summit location. Each of these sights allowed us to meet individuals who impacted our thinking and perception of sport and businesses in China.

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We were told that West Lake is a must see when visiting Hangzhou. The drive to the lake was so beautiful, and much different than any other part of the city we had seen thus far. I noticed that the highways were extremely intertwined and groomed nicely with greenery and lined with flowers. The 1,600-acre natural jewel is surrounded by a lush green shoreline and willow trees, with views of majestic mountains, ancient temples, traditional pagodas and bridges. After making it down the path to the lake, without being hit by any trolley cars, we Crowe 3enjoyed a boat tour to see the lake separate from the large crowds. Unfortunately, it was a foggy day but that did not change how beautiful the scenery was. It is easily understood why so many poets and artists throughout time were inspired by West Lake – as the area is so rich in tradition. Similarly, it is easy to see why the large waterway was used for transportation and trading in its time.

A sight that sparked all of our interests was the visit to the Jinlun Sport School – a school that selects children at a very young age to train at the sport in for which they appear best suited. The school prides themselves on training Olympians and has even had success 4 times in producing gold medal swimmers. This concept was eye opening as we saw four-year-old children file in a disciplined manner into the gymnastics area for practice that day. We were told that typically four hours a day are spent on training, after a few science and language classes in the morning. The sports that we saw at the school were tennis, basketball, gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, swimming, track and badminton. Some of us even tried our hand at playing against young badminton stars – with no shot at comparing. It is safe to say that eCrowe 2ach of us gained an appreciation for their unworldly work ethic and drive that would be necessary to remain successful in such an environment. There is much to be learned from how universal sport is and how different cultures treat their athletes. Gaining this perspective was extremely valuable for us as we enter the sports industry, now with a better perception on the global sport market.

Lastly, we visited Alibaba, the world’s largest retailer, who employs 17,000 people. Its success comes in all forms – as they have surpassed all US retailers including Walmart, Amazon and eBay. Their business was founded by Jack Ma in his apartment, and to this day he has been responsible for their success. The beautiful campus has a river run through it, traditional Chinese buildings, and also statues to represent the hardworking employees. It is evident that their business model and goals are consistently changing with the world around them. They have tapped into numerous areas of the market that allow them to expand their presence. Technologies such as their mobile payment “Alipay,” “internet cars,” financial support and services have all helped Alibaba to become one of the world’s top 10 most valuable companies. We were honoured to meet with the Olympic partnership team which gave us insight on how Alibaba planned to leverage their partnership through marketing and activations for the 2022 Games. There was a lot to learn during this meeting that would relate to our future and current careers in sport. They also touched on how they would like to eventually expand to Canada so that their services can be available for Chinese tourists. Taking this perspective back to any career is an asset, as working with a global perspective and broad perception allows for creativity and higher understanding.



Overall, Hangzhou provided us with beautiful sights, a great opportunity to learn about sport and business in China and also to pick up on the rich culture in which we were surrounded. The lessons we learnt and the experiences we had in China are second to none and without the SPAD program we may not have had the chance to experience it otherwise.