03 Feb Just 6 days and I have already fallen in love with Shanghai
Sitting here in my hotel room, with the sounds of one of the busiest cities in the world in my ear, a bottle of Tsingtao in my hand and the wonders that is Sherpas at my fingertips, its hard to believe the I have only been in Shanghai for a mere week. Shanghai has an amazing ability to make you feel as though you are apart of it, even as you just stand back and watch this amazing city. In just 6 days I have already fallen in love with this city, follow me and I will try to show you why.
After a stopover in Hong Kong, over 12 hours of travel and a sleepless night, I finally arrived in Pudong Airport. I picked up my luggage, raced outside and immediately met up with the Program Coordinators, and 3 very sleepy interns. Even though I forced them to wait almost 8 hours for me, an immediate connection was made when we realized we were all Australian.
Stepping out of the airport, it didn’t take me long to realize how different Shanghai is from Perth. The first thing that hits you is the cold. With the average temperature well below Perth’s coldest days, I was starting to think I packed the wrong clothes. As we drove towards Puxi, the shear amount of buildings, construction and people is incredible. After a long drive we arrived at our home for the next month. I was then introduced to my roommates and shown our rooms. We were put in a 3-bedroom apartment that exceeded every expectation I had of our accommodation. The rooms are spacious, with a laundry, kitchen and lounge. Even better is the location, which is of walk able distance to everything that matters, or a simple train away.
The new group of interns decided to explore before our Absolute sponsored dinner with the whole group. It was here that we were introduced to the current interns, who welcomed us with open arms. Dinner consisted of essentially a 10-course meal, with more and more food constantly arriving. Seated around a round table with a rotatable centerpiece, conversation was free flowing and friendships were immediately created. Once dinner was finished, the new interns joined the old for what we were told was a typical Eastern Club. As far as East vs. West customs and nuances go, nothing compares to the difference in nightlife. I’ll put it simply; it’s purely something you have to experience for yourself, and something I definitely recommend that you do.
With the first day and night behind us, armed with some wisdom from the other interns, we decided it was time to explore Shanghai. I quickly learnt that exploring has never been so easy. Partly through the help of Alan and Zach, two of my fellow interns who both can speak Mandarin, and partly because making your way around Shanghai is so damn easy. Shanghai’s subway system, or Metro, is so logical and efficient you can get to anywhere you want in Shanghai without raising a drop of sweat. Oh and not to mention how cheap it is. 1 trip on the Metro will set you back 3RMB, or roughly 80 Australian Cents. Or if you are feeling fancy, a taxi to almost anywhere will cost you about 20rmb or $4.
Unfortunately, due to my new boss being overseas and Chinese New Year, I have not started work at my internship yet. I have been given tasks to do, but I have not been to my office or experienced a 9-6 day of a finance intern. As such I cannot comment of my first days of work as of yet, however I have had more time to explore.
The Shanghai experience revolves largely around food, as does the Chinese culture. In my 6 days on the program, I think I have shared around 70% of my meals, which is actually a really great thing to do. My meals have been shared over nearly every type of cuisine imaginable with every type of food you can wish for available all over Shanghai. I briefly alluded to Sherpas earlier in this post. Put simply, Sherpas is everything. Sherpas is a service where you can order food from hundreds of restaurants, and for a $3 fee Sherpas will deliver it to your door. Naturally, this makes it hard to consider leaving your room, but Shanghai never disappoints.
In one of my adventures with my partner-in-crime Tom, we walked through street markets, street hairdressers, street carpentry and had the most incredible street food that can only be explained through the video I took of it being made. We have adventured to the Fabric Market, where we bought hand stitched suits and shirts for bargain prices. We’ve explored Peoples Square, The Bund, and Pudong. Shanghai has so many incredible places; we have only touched the surface.
As I am writing this, I am in the middle of packing for my upcoming trips to Wuxi and Beijing, while still working out what we are doing tonight for Chinese New Years. I look forward to updating you on that, and until then Zàijiàn and Xīnnián Kuàilè!