In a blink of an eye, I have been in Shanghai for six months. Wow. Boy, what exactly have I been doing? Life can often feel like big blur of nothingness until you sit down to think about it. So, sitting down and thinking about it I did. I looked up what I had written at 38,000 feet in the air on my way from LA to Shanghai, and it’s incredible to think back at that moment.
Exactly 6 months ago, the only person that I had known in real life was a guy with whom I went to college but hadn’t had any contact in years. I hadn’t even met the family friends who were taking me in during my initial weeks in Shanghai. I arrived at the airport not knowing at all what to expect. One day at a time, I told myself.
And so, began my new life in this new city that I had never even visited. I got myself a Chinese phone number, signed myself up with a few tutoring agencies to get the cash flow going immediately, and began networking like a madwoman. I had so many coffee dates with people in those first few weeks; they were at times exhausting. I meet people in all sorts of ways, yoga studio, networking events, but mostly – introductions from friends or various degrees. In the days of social media, even people that I wasn’t very close with came out of the woodwork to put me in touch with people they know in Shanghai. We live in a global world, and everyone is your kind neighbor who is willing to lend a hand however they can.
Creating new relationships, whether it’s making new friends, business contacts, or romantic interests, shares a similar process – there needs to be chemistry, and the right timing. There were people whom I met once, and knew immediately that we would be friends, but among them, some have extremely busy lives, and our friendship could never really develop. And then, there were those that simply lack chemistry. The one-time coffee dates that led to nowhere hold true for all three categories of relationship building.
With various elements that must align to create relationships of every sort, it is thus a major accomplishment when I see how many people are active contacts in my WeChat (popular Chinese chat client) merely six months later. It’s an amazing feeling to know that I’ve managed to yet again recreated a new life, in a new place, with completely new people. There are fewer things more satisfying in life than that.
Career wise, while I have yet committed myself to a full-time 9-5 thing, I have made major strides in exploring my options and making great contacts. I’ve also ruled out industries that I once thought were promising and interesting, but learned the reality of things and decide to pursue later (social investment/social enterprise). I have taken up a variety of projects to keep myself afloat, meanwhile endured dozens of interviews both with Chinese organizations and multinationals (most recently – 7 rounds for the same job). Every step of the way, I learn a little more about how things work in Shanghai, and a little more about myself.
In six short months, I have built a life out of nothing. Friendships have blossomed with people that I could never have imagined meeting back in the US. I have even loved and lost, but created wonderful memories. There is never a dull moment with life here. When I wake up every Monday morning, what I anticipate to happen that week is never what actually transpires. This is exactly what I was looking for. Before I left New York, I wrote in my journal, “I want to live a life of excitement again. I want the highs to be high, and lows to be low in my daily life.” Well, I believe I have certainly found that in Shanghai. It always pays to leap. Here’s to another six months, to many more memories, and to many more wonderful new people in my life!