Despite the grey clouds and coolness of the late June day in Hamburg, Seraph Zhang and Sujie Li, both from China, are in good moods. The two Master in Supply Chain Management students at National University of Singapore (second best university in Asia / according to Times Higheer Education Ranking) are participating in a two-week study visit to the city organized by their university in cooperation with KLU and are clearly enjoying themselves.
On a break during a seminar on German and European rail systems given by Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) at KLU, the pair talk enthusiastically about their program, which has included lectures on European culture, business in Germany, logistics and supply chain management of course, and visits with their 18 other classmates to places such as the city’s sprawling Airbus plant, the Port of Hamburg, and logistics firm Kühne + Nagel.
The access they’ve had to these site visits, they say, has been exciting. “Singapore industry has similar state-of-the art logistic facilities,” says Sujie, a 27-year-old from Jinan. “KLU was able to organize special tours with a focus on education, which has been a great experience for us.
Inside the facilities, the student has been impressed with their technology and cleanliness. “We did a boat tour of the port and everything is automated. I was so amazed – the container transporters even park themselves once they’ve finished,” she says. “And the warehouses are dustless.”
It’s this orderliness and precision, she believes, that is important to the success of German businesses in a variety of industries, including chemicals, cars and “even in stationery.”
“People are hard-working here,” adds classmate Seraph, a year older and from Ningbo in eastern China. “They also work for a long time in a company. At Airbus, we were shown around by retired employees and they were still very passionate about their work.”
Despite Germans working hard, they finish work at a reasonable time each day, says Sujie, “So there is a very good work-life balance.”
The attention paid to detail in Germany is something that has also really stood out for her, she says. “Everything is done in a very dedicated and precise way here,” remarks Seraph. “For example, at the International Maritime Museum everything is perfect – the sails on the model ships, the knots on the sails, there’s even a model of a truck accident with artificial smoke coming out of the truck.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, both women could imagine living and working in Hamburg, at least for a couple of years.
“It is a lovely city,” remarks Seraph. “The shops are closed earlier than in Singapore and there’s nothing open on a Sunday, but the people party a lot here.”
With the city being caught up in the fever of the soccer World Cup in Brazil, the students were able to get into the spirit of things too, watching games and celebrating with the locals.
And with China not at the World Cup, who were their favourite teams?
“I’m supporting Germany,” says Sujie. “I just randomly support a team. Last time it was Spain, this time Germany.”
“I’m supporting Germany too,” says Seraph.
With excursions to Volkswagen and Lufthansa Technik lined up, the weather predicted to improve considerably, and having plenty of World Cup matches still left to enjoy, Sujie and Seraph and their classmates experienced a more than decent work-life balance themselves.