08 Jan From the minute you land, everything changes
From the minute you land, everything changes. The nerves kick in as you walk through customs, then you see the first person you will get to know, William Gant, the China Program Director, a rush of relief blows over your body. From the airport we took a bus to the centre of Shanghai to the apartments. The driving skills of the locals truly bewilders most on the bus, cars weaving in-between each other, no indicating and no giving way, but somehow it just works.
The drive into the city only gives you a small taste of Shanghai. The buildings start off low, only 3-4 stores high by the airport, and gradually get bigger. You begin to wonder where 24 million people reside, then you hit the city. Skyscrapers of apartment blocks are littered everywhere, whole city blocks that create mini villages are created with towering buildings which house millions of locals. We pulled into a fancy looking hotel lobby, were greeted by more of the smiling Absolute staff. These people soon turn from the staff to some of your best friends, and at times, you would be truly lost without them. The apartments them selves rise 36 floors into the sky and have all the comforts of home.
The first night came before any of us knew it. A traditional Chinese teahouse was organised to greet us on the first night. Food from fried noodles to blood jelly greeted us. Although the thought of many of the foods in Shanghai is not pleasant, everything must be tried, because 9 out of 10 times, it tastes a lot better than it looks or smells! The first group of interns which had already been in Shanghai for a month greeted us and introduced one of many things to do in Shanghai at night, Liars Dice. The local bar we were taken to had everything a bright-eyed intern could want, beer, dice and good company of other interns. The excitement around the table drove us on into the night and early morning.
The next day we were taken to an introduction breakfast and taught the difference between Western and Chinese culture. From how to give business cards to the way the Chinese will take care of their families, we were told it all. Later we had a quick introduction to mandarin, which taught us some of the local language basics. After this we split up and found something to eat. We are quickly learning the best places to eat are often those you would not expect. The local dumpling store on the road behind the apartments would not be a place I would usually venture into. A local Chinese man out the front with a gas bottle and large steel pan, frying hundreds of dumplings at a time, whilst out back you can order pretty much any noodle soup you can think of. If you are game enough there, perhaps for dinner you should leap next door for some stir fried frog!
Sunday arrives and a well-deserved sleep in is given. For brunch we head off to a fancy Dim Sum restaurant. More new experiences await you at each mealtime! From there we headed off down to the Bund, the street that follows the river and offers a breath taking view of how vast the city really is. All there is to do now is prepare our selves for out first day of work!