11 Mar 5 Rules for a First Date with Shanghai
There is nothing like a first date.
Beforehand, you will carefully plan where you are going and what you will do.
During, you will act cool and calm while your heart beats in double time.
Afterwards, you will hopefully come home with a cheeky smile stuck on your face.
Why am I telling you about first dates? Well, I have recently returned from one with that cheeky smile myself. I have just being on my first date with the city of Shanghai and I cannot wait until we can have our second one!
When you are about to go on your first date with Shanghai, emotions start bouncing around like that silver sphere in a pinball machine. One moment you are jubilant about the approaching departure date, the next moment your nerves appear questioning how it could all go wrong. The one emotion that remains consistent throughout is the growing excitement as your date draws closer.
So how do you wine and dine Shanghai on your first date? I have developed five first date rules to guarantee the perfect encounter with Shanghai:
1. Get out of your comfort zone
When you are getting to know someone for the first time you are never completely comfortable in doing so. One of the best approaches deal with this is to just push past your comfort zone and throw yourself into the deep end.
Shanghai is like stepping into another world with limited English, unique culture and peculiar sights. I tried to interact with Shanghai as much as possible during my time there even though it often landed me in awkward situations.
2. Be Chivalrous
If your date is entering a building, open the door for them.
If your date is cold, give them your jacket.
If your date is Shanghai, don’t expect it to offer to hold your hand.
The Chinese culture has a strong focus on not embarrassing each other. I first encountered this when I started my internship, as I found the workload quite light. The work didn’t began to pile up until I started reaching out to people in the office for additional work. I later found out that the reason they were not giving me work at the beginning was because they wanted to give me time to settle in. It was up to me to take their hand at our dinner date.
3. Don’t let the night end early
What is the point of taking your date out to a fancy restaurant and only getting an appetiser? When you are doing an internship in an amazing city like Shanghai it would be a real shame if you did not experience anything past your office environment. During my time in Shanghai I tried to do something with every opportunity that I was presented. I would often feel worn down during the days but seizing these opportunities was an investment that I am yet to regret.
4. Don’t judge your date on first impressions
Being judgmental is often a habit that people want to shake but find it very hard to do so. When you are in a city like Shanghai for the first time everything is bound to be different and, at times, shocking. The combination of an evolving city with an exceptionally unique culture will be confronting on first impressions. I recall experiencing culture shock first hand as I walked through the streets during my first weeks in Shanghai. Yet as I now reflect on my time there I find these experiences to be some of my favorite ones.
5. Just go for it
How often are you in a position where you can just go and intern in Shanghai without having to seriously rearrange your life to do so? I do not think I can have another experience like this one again unless I make substantial changes to my schedule. I am thankful for every moment in Shanghai, yet still cannot find the words to express how phenomenal it really was. Though it is hard to put words to my time in Shanghai, this quote from Mark Twain seems like a fitting end:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Scholarship recipient for Public Relations Internship in Shanghai, China