cultureI’m sorry I haven’t gotten around to blogging more often – if only I could blog via Vulcan mind meld, or some other “Think it and it actually happens” method… as I’ve thought of a million different great ideas for blogs in the past couple of weeks…

To go back to the beginning: I left my gorgeous new home in Austin, TX back a while ago – in fact, the week before Labor Day, and went to Dallas and Los Angeles for work for a week, then on to China.

OK, so you’ve got the picture – not many places in the US bigger than either the Big D or LA.

Then, I flew to Taipei, Wuxi, and Shenzhen in China. These cities make the previous two look like quaint little towns — Shenzhen, where I am now, is a city of 18 million (so they tell me) – and this was all open land 30 years ago.

Shenzhen was built specifically to help China enter the (then) 20th century, and is home to several large high tech businesses (I should know – I’m at one of ‘em that employs 50,000 engineers, and across the highway from another, that employs 200,000, mostly operators/unskilled labor. They each have their own exit off the highway, as they are larger than several cities back at home.)

Now, despite this, there are very obvious differences between the US trip and the China trip.

US trip: client affiliated hotel was the Fairmont in Dallas – top shelf, great service, etc.

China trip: affiliated hotel is a ‘business hotel’ on campus (think: dorm room with double bed – and I use the term ‘bed’ loosely as it is only a box spring on a frame – no mattress unless you ask (and even then they bring you a 1″ mattress- literally, 1 inch!))

US trip: Hertz rental car is major form of transport that McDCG uses.

China trip: both ends of the spectrum — car and driver meets me at airport and whisks me away to my hotel; but otherwise, to get to work I have a nice 15 min brisk walk each way daily (this is where I get lots of blogging ideas – the walk is invigorating).

Knowing how much rain Shenzhen gets, I packed some rubber clogs and an umbrella so I can slog in clogs rather than get my business shoes wet.

US trip: go to client with laptop, swap files via thumb drive, connect to client network wirelessly.

China trip: go through 10 min procedure every day – twice (on way in and on way out) where laptop is taped up everywhere – over network ports, cards, USB drives, and CD drive – with tamper-proof tape to ensure that I cannot copy anything.

US trip: meal choices were varied, in both price and selection

China trip: the local cafeteria, or the local restaurant on campus. The cafeteria serves Chinese food; the local restaurant has an eclectic western menu – if I go there, I’ll usually get an omelette for dinner since my other choices are hamburgers or other breakfast foods, in addition to chinese foods.

US trip: a nice 45 min lunch

China trip: a 30 min lunch followed by a 1 hour nap (no word of a lie – they play music at the end of the hour to wake everyone up). The lights are all dimmed, and there is no noise there (not even the quiet tap of my keyboard as I was politely asked to rest at my desk quietly, which I now do.) Many if not all of them have mattresses and/or cots to sleep on. Since they are a short people in general height-wise, most sleep under their 6 ft. desk with room to spare. I could get into this – don’t know if my US clients would be thrilled to see me roll out a nap mat after lunch though…

US trip: go into a store, buy something for posted price

China trip: go into a vendor stall, select what you want, roll eyes when they tell you the price, pretend to walk out, let them ask you for “best price” which you lowball even lower than you want to pay, and start negotiation from there. I look upon it as a sport and I’m pretty good at it – my Chinese hosts told me that they were ‘impressed’ with my skills at the market yesterday, telling me I’m as good as a Chinese person at it! High compliment indeed!

US trip: everyone lives somewhere else, usually in a good-sized house

China trip: most live in campus dorms or in small/tiny apts and take company-provided buses to work if remote.

All in all, I’m enjoying the trip here, including the walks to and from work and the naps (not sure if I sleep or not, but I do slow down my breathing and let my muscles relax.)

Definitely a change of pace from big city life in the US.

More when I return next week, and discover if I go through culture shock again…