The best month of our lives: Global immersion trip MIMS

With the end of March approaching, all the MIMS students were getting excited to leave for China and Japan. We had a busy schedule planned, going from Beijing to Shanghai to Hong Kong and then leaving for Japan to visit Tokyo and Kyoto. Thanks to Gaia, our program manager, for arranging all the visits we were sure we would experience a very interesting and enriching trip.

We arrived at our first stop, Beijing, where we first took the opportunity to visit the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and enjoyed a local tea tasting before diving into the Chinese business culture. During the first week, we visited Peking University, Hyundai Corporation factory and Innoway Incubator. At the university, we had a lecture by professor Tony Liu and he taught us about Chinese business practices and Confucianism. At Hyundai, we had a tour through the assembly lines in the factory and were faced with the local car market. It was very impressive to see how many cars were produced per day. To see the contrast to a large multinational, we visited Innoway Incubator the same day. In this street, digital start-ups from around the world are welcomed to open an office and they are supported and guided by Innoway in growing their network and knowledge. Artificial intelligence and robotics were omnipresent and we were introduced to a lot of cool features. One robot for example scanned your face and guessed your age, beauty and sex. Next to that, we could run on a treadmill surrounded by cameras and scans and after a few minutes, you received a full analysis of your body, fat percentage, heart rate, physical condition and running method, which could be confronting for some of us 😉 Besides the company visits, we tried traditional dishes like rice, noodles and Peking duck. We fully emerged ourselves into the local culture and we were ready for the next cities to come!

From Beijing we took the night train to Shanghai were we spend an amazing week. While Beijing is more traditional, Shanghai is more a combination of traditional and international, which is very fascinating. It is a city of contrasts in many ways! We visited so many companies of different kinds and one very interesting one was the port of Yangshan. It’s a deep water port that was recently built outside of Shanghai and they have ambitions of becoming the largest container port worldwide. The same day we also got a lecture from Jan Van der Borght, the representative of the Port of Antwerp. He explained us the logistic methods in China and gave some insights in the Chinese business world from a European perspective.

And if you think it cannot get any better, yet it happened by flying to Hong Kong. Despite the crowdedness and the humidity, I think it’s my favourite city! There is a great atmosphere and the dynamism and innovation of the companies and start-ups we visited was overwhelming. One company I liked very much was Diginex, a financial trading start-up. In two years, they have grown so much and their office with a view over the city was impressive, the least to say. During our free time, we went to the local horse races in the middle of the city, enjoyed the local food, went hiking and afterwards rewarded ourselves with some relaxing at the beach. This city was perfect to end our stay on the Chinese continent and get ready for a new cultural chapter: Japan.

Tokyo is a crazy city! The gaming and cartoon culture, the karaoke, the crowdedness in the metros and the streets, the typical intense working culture and the discipline of the locals were an eyeopener for every one of us. We were so happy to discover it all and also that we got the chance to meet students from the Shizenkan Business School. We had lectures and discussion the whole day in small mixed groups and they explained us about the growth of the Japanese economy and their vision on the future. Finally we ended our trip with a 2 night stay in Kyoto, a very beautiful city with a lot of history. We visited a brewery of Sake, the local rice wine and said goodbye to this wonderful trip during a delicious farewell dinner with the entire group.

I am so grateful to have been able to go on this group with our class. It was like a trip with our big family and we learned so much. So I want to say thank you to Vlerick and especially to Gaia for this amazing organisation and letting us experience all these unique moments.

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