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Photo of Mike Carls at the Great Wall of China

After obtaining my bachelor's degree, I simply assumed the opportunity to study abroad had passed me by. Little did I know that while attending the part-time program at Chicago Booth, I’d have a chance to take the trip of a lifetime.

I was fortunate enough to travel to China in the summer of 2017 as part of the Doing Business in China program provided by the prestigious Peking University, the first modern university in China. In just two short weeks I visited three cities, substantially broadened my perspective, built fond memories, and made even fonder friends with students from around the world.

This wonderful program consisted of interactive lectures with prominent Chinese professors, cultural activities exposing us to the history and major landmarks of China, and on-site visits with multinational corporations and domestic startups alike…and unfettered access to restaurants, sites, and nightlife.

Photo of Mike Carls and other students outside of a Chinese opera

Incredible Cultural Experience

Each city held its own wonders. In Beijing we saw the Forbidden Palace, climbed The Great Wall, and watched Boothies and students from around the world eat deep-fried scorpions. In Xi’an, we biked atop the ancient city wall fortification, got up close and personal with the Terracotta Warriors, ate a traditional Qin Dynasty feast (in traditional garb of course), and witnessed the magic of an outdoor Chinese Opera. Lastly, we enjoyed the amazing skyline on the Huangpu River in Shanghai, walked the world-famous Bund, and celebrated a wonderful trip from the 87th floor of the Park Hyatt. The contrast of each city was stark, moving from the more conservative capital, to the center of traditional Chinese values, and ultimately to a more familiar urban metropolis with a western influence.

Enlightening Global Collaboration

The program was a fantastic opportunity to network and collaborate with other MBA students from top tier schools around the globe. The class, consisting of 37 students, represented nearly every continent in the world and provided a great opportunity to share knowledge and wisdom. In many ways this experience was true-to-life, requiring clear communication and an openness to new and differing ideas. As a capstone to the course, we proposed market entry plans for Western companies yet to be operating in China.

Mike Carls' photo of the Dynasty Dinner

Vast Business Exposure

We were given access to a significant number of organizations. We toured one of the largest automotive joint ventures in Beijing, learning how Hyundai is penetrating one of the fastest growing auto markets in the world. To see how innovation is taking hold, we explored the high-tech industrial zone in Xi’an and peeked under the covers of a rapidly-evolving workflow startup heavily supported by China’s emerging venture capital community. Rounding out our trip was an afternoon at a co-working space, as entrepreneurs pitched their app ideas and sought our ideas on how to make them even better.

I felt lucky to explore an emerging world power first hand, encouraged to learn how foreign firms operate, and inspired by the culture and friendships that will stay with me long after my return.

If you are interested in learning more about study abroad opportunities through the Chicago Booth Evening MBA and Weekend Programs, please visit the Evening and Weekend program pages or contact our Admissions staff.