18 Jul Shanghai Preparation and Transition
Absolute Internship made my Shanghai preparation and transition far easier. The process began with a simple introductory interview with Anna. She was in charge of internship placement. After some small talk about the placement process, I explained to Anna how I wanted to be working in a finance position. She asked for some added information of what specific needs would be included in an ideal internship. Having access to a mentor and hands-on training is what I requested. After a few weeks I had my introductory interview with my host company. Anna set it all up and answered all of my questions. From the moment we landed, Absolute took care of every need I had.
This would be my second excursion outside of the United States. The previous fall semester I spent studying abroad at a French business school. Having that experience made me prepared for any type of culture shock. Absolute was waiting for us at the baggage claim and picked us up with a private bus that brought us directly to our accommodation. Awaiting at the accommodation was the rest of the absolute team. They handed us a complimentary backpack with some added gifts such as a lanyard, water bottle, business cards, etc. After assisting our check in process, we were able to go up to our room to unpack. However, we all did so in a quick manner because the Absolute team also had a planned dinner for us right around the corner. This restaurant was AWESOME! Of course there were only chop sticks available so it was a great ice breaker to get to know everyone as we all struggled. At the dinner we were given an itinerary of our orientation weekend. This weekend included sponsored dinners and trips to the city. They helped us learn how to use our metro cards. One of my favorite parts of the orientation weekend was when we were paired up with one of our peer’s to embark on a scavenger hunt. Tasks included taking photos in front of the pearl tower, eating street food, etc. It was a great way for all of us to get to know one of our peers while also getting a taste of Shanghai on our own. It forced us to develop the confidence to use the metro, walk around and interact with locals.
Once our internship began the Absolute team began scheduling dinners and organizing meeting points. My favorite place we attended was the Kartel roof top bar. Here we were able to get some cheap drinks while immersing ourselves in the surrounding Shanghai sunset. It was beautiful.
Shanghai is far different from a typical day in the United States. “Westerners” are easily spotted from a crowd and can often be asked to take photos with the locals. The subway system is easy to figure out, but can be tricky to fit inside! Be prepared to be shoulder to shoulder with your fellow travelers because that’s how life is in the Shanghai metro system. Also do not be offended if someone bumps into you and does not follow up with an apology. Here that is the norm. With that being said when you bump into someone, if you feel the need to apologize do so, but do not expect it from the Chinese.
At the fake market, do not be afraid to haggle. In their minds it is shameful if you give into their inflated prices! My advice is to walk into a store, be respectful and kind. Ask for a price and THEN GET AGGRESSIVE. Theses people can smell fear. Keep your back straight and act like you know how to haggle (whether you do or don’t). Theses people are desperate to make a sale. I cannot tell you how many times a price when from 1500 rmb to 500rmb to making a sale at 80rmb. At the end of the day these people will follow you half a block from their store if it means closing a sale. Just remember that whatever product they are selling, can probably be purchased around the corner. With that in mind do not feel the need to purchase after you haggle with a store owner! Use the surrounding shops to your advantage! The fake markets are my favorite places to go. It is so much fun and you can actually get some awesome stuff! Great place for souvenirs and gifts.
When you arrive in Shanghai, you will miss home. You may question why you left and may fall asleep being a little upset with your decision. I’m here to tell you that the Absolute team helps you make the best out of your time here and you’ll be laughing about your homesick feelings after a few days. Once you take the time to get outside of your room you’ll learn to love this place!