One Month in Shanghai
I left home roughly four weeks ago on a warm summer morning in Kansas City. I overslept, on no more than 2.5 hours sleep (impressive, I know), finished packing in half an hour and made it to the gate in time. (Thanks, Mom.) Nerves frayed, exhausted, and trying to regroup for a full day in Chicago.
Eight days later, I finally began to pull myself back together after much wandering around the Windy City, a sleepless flight across the Pacific, and four days of poor translations and mostly worse apartments.
I have a home: a simple, two bedroom place, which I share with fellow intern/almost lawyer Max in a safe apartment complex. Our place is ten minutes from the closest subway stop (and a 50 minute ride from the heart of the city), ten from the firm’s office in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, and a few from fantastic eggplant, dumplings, and noodles at a couple of dollars per meal. Even with utilities, we pay less for a nicer place than all-but-one of our other options.
(Above: Our administrative assistant, Emma [Jiang QiaoMei] translating our lease.)
We are the only two Americans in the area, and are well watched when we go eat. Frequently, other restaurant patrons with English skill help us order on the request of the shop owner. We have quite the time when we have no translator nor any pictures to point to in the menu. And of the local watering hole…
We have gone into the city each weekend, frequently with Max going ahead midday and me following in late afternoon. My internal clock is set a couple of hours later than his, despite 5:30 am sunrises and 6:05 sunsets. This is a cosmopolitan city — and China’s largest, at some 20 million souls. In several trips to the city we’ve gone to a large photo exhibition, as well as an art gallery, two different ex-pat bar spots, covered the main tourist area from People’s Park along West Nanjing Road to the Bund — then across the river to the famous skyline, and visited our office in the Bund Centre with the firm’s Senior Partner. Max and I are to alternate one day a week there, for now.
(The Bund Centre, from a distance.)
Speaking of work, it is a mix of little frustrations (try using a computer with it’s operating system in a language you know little of for three weeks), promise of opportunity (in tasks for current clients and the wide universe of potential clients), and small victories. After 18 full-days at work (approximately 8 hours a day for enough money to live), I am fairly content with what we will be doing, especially with Max pushing — as he does well — for operating systems in English (small victory no. 1), a shared electronic file system, and a better company website. Plus, how can I deny the fun of cross-border litigation, transactions, etc.? How often does someone in my position have the opportunity to share dinner with a Malaysian intellectual property lawyer discussing the referral of clients who want to register in each other’s markets?
We are already past the ten percent mark on our nine month commitment, and though Max is certain he’ll leave June 1, 2015—the date of my plane ticket, too—I suspect I will stay at least the summer on this side of the globe. This thought may change, but the earliest I would start work somewhere new is likely next September, so it seems prudent to work most of that time, likely here. We’ll see. So much time between now and then.
In the meantime, congratulations again to my fellow new attorneys. And go Royals! I’ll probably post again after the national holiday Oct. 1-7 if I travel at all (yes, seven days off; but work the Sunday before and the Saturday after). Otherwise, maybe I will put up some more pictures here and there.