Cristian Garcia

Digital Business Strategy

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Author: Liliana Cardenas. MIP's International MBA Candidate

My first month in Beijing

When Cristian invited me to post in his blog I was thinking what to write, and not because I have nothing to tell but because it’s hard to decide from where to start. So I decided to tell you my about my first experiences in this amazing city.

It’s already more than a month that I am out of Italy for my MBA exchange program. I arrived with a part – time MBA classmate which was great because it was my first time coming to China and I was clueless on what to expect on the arrival.


Soon after getting out of the plane in Beijing we experienced one of the city’s biggest challenges, air pollution. A dense fog gave us its grey welcome to the city, those days (February 21st) the pm 2.5 level was around 500 (a hazardous level for health) after that week we learned that checking in the app the daily level of pollution is a normal activity for Beijingers to wear their mask or decide if do outdoor activities.

Check this link if you are curious to check air quality level in different cities.

The first day we arrive this was the way we saw the sky around 11:00 am.


View from the 11th floor of UIBE School of Trade building where you can see the works for the new gym and dormitories for international students.

You can read this articles that describe the serious situation in the city. This was our topic of discussion in all the classes that week.


February 24th. Sky at 3:00 pm in a day with high pollution.

After finishing the visa check and taking our luggage, we got into our first negotiation experience. The prices that taxi drivers offered to take us from the airport to the university fluctuated from 300 RMB to 700 RMB (48 to 112 USD), at last we paid the “fair” amount that the University told us 110RMB (17 USD). To be honest I am still in the process of shaping my bargaining skills. In China bargaining is a common daily activity, as foreigner everyone will want to charge you more for everything, so you need to always ask for a second, third or fourth price, almost everywhere, expect in restaurants and big stores, but in the street markets, gym, taxi, hair saloon, etc., you need to be careful because most probably you are paying the “foreign” price.

We arrived to the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) figuring out where to ask for our dormitory. My first nightmare, and I would say my only trouble so far in Beijing was to understand how this place is organized and to ask to the staff that speak almost only in Chinese about where and how to settle was a big challenge that was solved well in some days thanks to my nice Chinese friend Wessy and after moving to 3 different rooms and taking my luggage up and down and around the campus (there’s no elevator in the dormitories) I was finally settled.


UIBE in a beautiful blue sky day

In the campus and the dormitories you can experience a multicultural environment with students from undergraduate, MBA, PhD, from many Asian countries the majority from China of course, then South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, also central Asia from Kazakhstan, as well many countries from Africa, Latin America and Europe. So you can find people from everywhere around the campus. First time in my life I hear foreigners speaking Chinese, which is almost a must if you plan to stay here for a long period and you want to be independent.

The campus is a small community where you can get almost every service needed to survive from the cafeteria to the hairdresser. The main cafeteria is a crowded place, like everywhere in China. The food is good and cheaper than outside the campus (a complete meal for 10 RMB- 1.6 USD), but it’s too heavy and oily to take the 3 meals there.

Outside the campus there are many types of restaurants, here it’s not a problem to find what to eat. Everyone ask me if it’s very cheap to eat in Beijing, if you eat the takeaway food from the streets maybe you spend the same that in the cafeteria, but you spend around (40 RMB – 6.5 USD), for a small salad and a bottle of water in a “normal” restaurant around the campus, and believe me after a while your stomach will ask for it. You also need be careful the first days when you cross the streets, they drive crazy around here, and they have many types of vehicles going around the streets, here it seems that pedestrian NEVER have the preference.


Inside the campus. The brown building is the dormitory of the Chinese female students where there are approx. 10,000. They told me is the largest dormitory in a Chinese University

The campus is located in the lively Chaoyang Districts, a district with many western style places such as Sanlitun one of the trendiest around Beijing, it is full of restaurants and shopping places on the surroundings.

Next tothe nice shopping centers you can find Yashow Clothing Market one of the many “fake” markets in Beijing, here you can shape your negotiating skills with their impressive sellers, yelling at you that you are crazy that they will never give you the price you suggest. It is amazing to see how they play with you once they write their “best price” in their big calculator you have to start going down, the advice from local people is that you should not pay more than 1/3 of the price they are suggesting so this negotiation could take as long as you or they want. I think they always win , but you feel so good when you got the price you wanted, this can bring out your best bargaining skills, in this place you can get for free a top level negotiation course.



The Spring just arrived, with it’s beautiful cherry blossoms Beijing looks nicer than in February. I already did some sightseeing around the city that I will tell you about in another post, but I still have a lot of places to visit in this city that lives 24/7, with its mix of east and west and the reflection of China’s fast development and its consequences on the environment, a city full of possibilities where everything seems to be possible, where you can experience “The Chinese dream”.


A nice public park near UIBE, Yuan Dynasty Dadu City Wall Relics Park

It’s time to enjoy the spring.

Author: Liliana Cardenas. MIP's International MBA Candidate

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