15 Jul Shanghai – Outside the Office
Absolute Internship has provided me and my fellow interns with a surplus of activities throughout each weekend here in Shanghai. Because there are so many events going on, I unfortunately can’t speak for all of the Absolute interns when I discuss the weekend activities I’ve participated in. Absolute interns are scattered around Shanghai having the time of their lives, but if you’re reading this now then you’ll get to discover what I experienced outside the office.
The first weekend in Shanghai was an adapting phase. Shanghai is much more fast-paced than where I am from, so it was difficult for me to process what was going on because I was so busy keeping up with everything. Instead of perceiving that experience as stressful, think of it more as an exciting adventure. This was my heftiest experience outside of my comfort zone. The first thing I got to venture through with the other interns was the unique Chinese cuisine. Absolute sponsored various meals for us and we got to try things I didn’t even know were edible. Outside of those restaurants, it was a very impromptu and spontaneous. Some of us didn’t waste any time; a small group of us decided to go straight to the booming financial center in the middle of the high-raises. This was my first opportunity to see the Pearl Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, and experience the anarchy of Shanghai traffic. My favorite event within the first couple of days was the tea ceremony in an ancient Confucius temple. To this point in my Shanghai internship career, this was the most of Chinese culture that I’ve seen.
The second weekend took us to the famous tourist sites in Shanghai. We started out Saturday morning with brunch in a nice restaurant on the historical and scenic Bund after making the trek through tourist-filled East Nanjing Road. Then the interns split in half: one side taking on the “Amazing Race” event put on by Absolute, the other half (which I was a part of) craving the excitement of bargaining with locals at the fake markets. On Sunday, Absolute took us on a tour of the Pearl Tower where we saw an incredible 360 degree view of the financial center, followed by authentic dumplings at Din Tai Fung.
The third weekend brought the group west of Shanghai to enjoy a more cultural side of China in Hangzhou. We got to enjoy watching the most famous circus performance in China, traveling throughout a tea plantation, exploring the views of the city from the top of a temple, and more delicious authentic food. My favorite part of the weekend was going to the tea plantation. After our second tea ceremony of the internship, the interns had some free time to lounge around. Instead of sitting around watching the seconds on my watch tick away, I decided to make this city feel a little more like Minnesota and explore up through the forests and plantation to the top of the hills in the rain. The 360 degree view from the top was breathtaking.
My last weekend included two days of opposite activities. The first night was me and some other interns I’ve grown close with exploring The Bund. We enjoyed dressing up in our new tailor-made suits we bought from the fake markets, lounging around and taking pictures at the Waldorf Astoria, having pictures taken of us walking down the streets, and ending the evening on a rooftop bar soaking in the unbelievable view of the financial district across Huangpu River. On Sunday, Absolute took the interns on a day trip to Zhujiajiao, a water town on the outskirts of Shanghai. I was surprised this place was in the same region as Shanghai. It was a scenic, authentic, culturally enlightening Chinese experience where we discovered temples, gardens, and took a tour along the river. Although the weekends only account for a small fraction of my time in Shanghai, I’ll never forget those unique experiences.