Why China?

Momachi Pabrai shares why she decided to study abroad here at NYU Shanghai and the opportunities she's found.

Conventional wisdom holds that we humans view the world through the lenses we have been engineered to look through. As a Democratic Indian-American, a socialist market economy with a fundamentally capitalistic outlook and a communist story seems quite incompatible. At the same time, such a system has not only managed to suit 1.4 billion lifestyles, but it has also paved the way for cutting-edge technology, express manufacturing and revolutionary infrastructure. Rather than rejecting an unfamiliar political or economic institution, it is essential to study global market differences so that we may realize the potential to develop opportunities in each of our home countries.

A self-designed Media & Data Analytics sophomore at NYU Gallatin, my love affair with NYU Shanghai began with the discovery of the blockbuster Interactive Media Arts (IMA) undergraduate chapter. NYU New York does have a paralleled Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), although it is limited to graduate students. Through IMA, NYU Shanghai students get to explore the intersection of aesthetic design and software with world-class ITP thought-leaders. Even more so, NYU Shanghai students have the unparalleled opportunity to study software at the heart of the drastically diverse Chinese Internet society.

How fascinating it is, I thought, that because free speech and Western values are objectively just different stories in China, software application, digital functionality and entrepreneurial ventures are also unique stories in China. How intriguing it is that Facebook was blocked in China in 2009 during the Urumqi riots mainly because Xinjiang independence activists were using Facebook as a form of communication. Because it is also a struggle to control the immediate effects of huge information outflow on sites like Twitter and YouTube, the Chinese government has created this great firewall, which today stands as the biggest digital boundary in the world.

Although China does have a censored Internet, the Chinese have created exceptional digital alternatives. For Facebook, there’s RenRen. For YouTube, there’s YouKu. For Amazon, there’s Taobao. For Google, there’s Baidu. For Twitter, there’s Weibo. At the same time, there are mobile applications like WeChat, which are so multifunctional and widespread that no Western platform compares. Such Chinese web browsers, social media, social networks and search engines are used by over 700 million netizens – roughly 10% of the world’s population!

Students from other global campuses who have worked or intend on working with the digital landscape in China may think of more integrative, complex and creative applications of subjects such as media, data science and business. With inspiration from China’s distinctive technology space, study away students are capable of devising more flexible possibilities and unleashing paralleled software solutions back home.

This article was written by Momachi Pabrai. Please send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: randomwire.com

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