Sixteen hours later, including a layover in Detroit and one in Beijing, I stepped off the plane the following evening to breathe in the air of Xiamen. I won’t lie; it was a bit smoggy and polluted. We loaded our baggage into the driver’s van and we were headed to the hotel. My first impression of China…there are SO MANY people here! How dare they call Xiamen a village compared to their other, much larger, cities? I was amazed at how large this “tiny village” actually was. To put things into perspective, the population in Xiamen is a little over 3.5 million people at the 2010 Census while Chicago came in a 2.7 million in 2010. There were high-rise apartments and condos no matter what way you turned. With the exception of a few palm trees by the waterfront, I don’t think I saw much greenery (including grass) anywhere.
All in all, it was a great experience and I was so glad to have the opportunity to travel and learn (not only about our business) but also about the people and culture. I learned from one of the ladies that it is an honor to have your parents move into the house with you when you have your only child. They are considered a blessing for helping take care of the infant while the parents work full-time. The working class doesn’t have daycares or nannies. They rely on their family and have a lot of respect for them as they help raise their child. They may not do things exactly like we do here in the States, but it was well worth immersing myself into for the time I was there.