Written by Swetha, High School/Pre-College Student Correspondent for International Career Pathways: Beijing, China, Summer 2018
Our agenda for the day was packed: meeting our Chinese buddies, visiting the Temple of Heaven, and shopping at the Pearl Market. Before heading out, we met up with our “Chinese buddies”, some local Chinese students who accompanied us on this trip and will also come on some of our future excursions. Twelve subway stops later, we reached the Temple of Heaven. Despite the muggy weather, we took our time roaming through the gorgeous, scenic Temple of Heaven before heading off to the Pearl Market.
The Pearl Market was a shopping PARADISE; complete with cute souvenirs, knockoff brand name items, and electronics. Many of us encountered some very intense sellers, who were grabbing and yelling. However, all of this was characteristic of the “bargaining process”, a skill that we were all tested on today. At first glance, I clearly stick out as a foreigner. Sellers often spike up prices for foreigners, thinking that they will be willing to pay more or are unaware of the real price of their goods.
My biggest buy for the day was a beautiful red Gucci bag (although it resembled the real model exactly, it was a “fake”). I asked the seller for its price, she took out her calculator and punched in 1250 (~$200). I tried to hide my shock, complained that I was a student that did not bring her wallet, and calmly typed in 100. She took a step back, laughed for a bit and said “Nooo! How can I sell it at that price?! It’s too low!”. After a long back and forth, we settled at 150 RMB (around $24), and I was satisfied. After an hour and a half in the market, I walked out with my hands full of knock off Supreme, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci—to name a few—as well as a sense of pride from haggling my way through many high prices.
Of course, no day is complete without ordering takeout to enjoy in the comfort of our clean, air conditioned dorms. As a pioneer of WeChat pay, I have mastered everything from sending red packets to ordering takeout. My roommates and I took turns ordering bubble tea and KFC, and finished off with homework and workouts at the local gym.