~By Dev Lewis
So, if you’ve been keeping tracks of my blogs you would have seen that I got back from my travels in Yunan in early May. A lot has happened since then.
I completed my semester at the East China Normal University (ECNU) at the end of May, when I had my final set of exams. That also marked the end of my Council of Educational Exchange (CIEE) study abroad program, following which a lot of my friends in the program headed back to their respective homes. Far from ready to leave China, I decided to find something that would keep me here in Shanghai. It may have seemed fairly easy to do, but in retrospect it was anything but. I spent much of May scouring the interweb and getting out and about in Shanghai, meeting people and networking, with considerable help from my own “guanxi” that I’ve accumulated since touching down in February. It all went down to the 11th hour, from finding my internship to spending days taking the metro across the city desperately looking for apartments that fit my requirements. Eventually, it all took shape and I now finally have an exciting plan for the summer.
During the month of June I am interning at the Chunqiu Institute for Strategic Relations, here in Shanghai. A two- year old private think tank, the Institute’s main product is a social outlook website called www.guancha.cn on which I will be mainly writing about India-China relations. A very forward thinking organization, one of its aims is to bring as many different types of views to the website, and provide a balanced and fair opinion on China and the rest of the world. All its products are in Chinese, as it is geared towards an all Chinese audience, and therefore all my published contributions will be translated to Chinese. Additionally, my voice will now be heard by an all Chinese audience, an opportunity that not many people have. My role is also very much in tune with what Inchin Closer is all about, and although in its early days, I do see strong potential for synergy.
As things stand, my time in Shanghai will end by the end of June, after which I plan to head to a small town in Sichuan province teaching English. I leapt at the opportunity to spend a month in rural China, especially in a beautiful place like Sichuan, an experience one certainly won’t find anywhere else.
Besides this, there is a lot happening in Shanghai, and working in the city exposes one to a myriad of things never experienced before. From club promoting and Djing to meeting people from all walks of life, one can seldom find oneself unoccupied. After spending 3 months in a more cushioned atmosphere at ECNU, living in the University dormitory with a lot of foreigners, I had ample time to adjust to living in China and very importantly learn Chinese.
Now I’m living and working in Shanghai proper, my ability to speak Chinese has opening the entire city to me. I’m much more of a 中国人 (zhōng guó rén ), now on QQ (an IM app) and Weibo(a Chinese fusion of Facebook and Twitter), with my fair share of Chinese friends. Of course, every day is still a learning experience, and in a city like Shanghai you don’t have a choice in the matter; as for my language, the more my Chinese improves, the more I see how much is still left to be learnt.
As I’ve often said earlier, this kind of lifestyle is unlike any in any city I’ve been to and or lived in. It’s no surprise that I’ve met a lot of people who’ve said they came to Shanghai, had so much fun and decided to stay put. That’s why staying in Shanghai was such an easy decision for me to make- the city never fails to keep me on my toes, and I think I’m in for a busy albeit interesting summer, here in Shanghai and then in Sichuan.