06 Jan Then it hit me…I’ll be in this amazing city for a whole month!
It was 6am when I landed in Shanghai but it wasn’t until after getting through customs that it hit me, that I’ll be in this amazing city for a whole month! It was quite early and with the Absolute Internship crew not scheduled to arrive until around 9am, so I had a few hours to spare. After trying to sleep, playing around on my laptop and watching the planes go by the clock ticked over to 9 – I headed back to the arrivals area. I caught a glance of a guy walking around carrying a sign saying Absolute Internship and quickly caught up with and found myself with a big group of interns that had gathered in just opposite the arrivals area. It turned out there were actually a couple of us that all came on the same flight that landed at 6am but none of us knew we were all part of the Absolute Internship group. Most of the interns were from Australia and we could all relate to the sudden temperature drop. We sat the airport for a few more hours as the group grew bigger. At around 11, all the morning arrivals were here and we headed off to the accommodation. It was about an hour’s drive there, on the way we got a taste of China’s infamous traffic system and even saw the aftermath of a rear end car crash. When we got to the hotel we received a welcome pack and the keycard to our rooms. The room was well above my expectations with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a lounge and a kitchen – but what really impressed me was how spacious it was and how you had your own space but also a common area to hang out.
After settling in I went out with a couple of other interns for lunch. We walked over to the SML Centre, which is a large shopping mall and metro station in one, the place was several stories high with all sorts of shops and a huge food court in the basement. We wandered around the food for a while, not many places had signs in English so it was impractical for us to attempt to order there on our first day. We eventually found a dumpling restaurant that an English menu, while there was an English menu, the staff only spoke Chinese. Luckily I could speak a bit of Mandarin which was enough to get us by. We each ordered a bowl of Wonton soup. It was only 8 yuan so I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a proper feed. When the food came we were blown away, the bowls were massive and each must have had at least 10 wontons in them. All that for the equivalent of around a $1.50 Australian! It was a great introduction to Shanghai cuisine. After lunch we explored the local area and stumbled upon some cool little side streets and alleyways which turned out to be Tianzifang, a famous cultural area in Shanghai. In the evening we gathered to head to the welcome dinner as the group had grown bigger with the afternoon/evening arrivals now at the housing. I met my housemate at the dinner after spending the day wondering who was supposed to be in the other room of the apartment. The dinner was an all you can eat buffet with a huge range of options. We also had plenty of soft drinks and beer. The brand of the beer was Tsingtao and since then it has become a favourite for a few of the guys in the group. At the dinner we also met some interns who had already been in Shanghai for a month, it was interesting talking to them and listening to what they had to say about their experience in Shanghai so far.
After the weekend (which will be the subject of another blog post) it was time for our first day at work. We gathered down in the lobby and first took a big group photo with all the interns dressed up in professional attire. We then were sent to our office locations, with different buses for different locations. I’m working in Pudong so went on the bus headed eastwards. The interns were dropped off company by company. After a while we found out to Century Avenue, the main road in the Pudong financial district, it was a spectacular sightseeing all the massive skyscrapers from ground level, you really get a sense of the sheer scale of everything. We were promptly dropped off to our office location and introduced to our boss to begin the working part of the program.