I was pondering about how to start this post last night while I was madly pedaling away at my spin class. This spin class was my first chinese exercise class where my instructor looked straight out of a lululemon catalog and had the overly peppy personality to match. Chinese techno and pop music was being blasted in the background while I tried not to fall off of my bike and heard the Chinese versions of “YMCA” and “Ice, Ice Baby.” At one point the instructor had us doing body rolls while pedaling. I was very confused. Story of my life right now. I am mostly confused.
I had a really fun weekend that started on Friday afternoon as I made my way to the Shanghai Urban Planning Event Center that I was blown away by! The model replica of the city of Shanghai was so impressive and really gives perspective to how massive this city of 24 million truly is. They had great exhibits on the history of Shanghai and the future of Shanghai’s transportation and the role of technology. If there is anything that I am most impressed by so far, it is Shanghai’s metro subway system. I believe it is the largest in the world and only growing! I haven’t used the bus system yet, but my colleagues say it is easy to navigate as well.
Saturday afternoon, I met up with my friend Nadine and her colleague Yale and went to the worlds largest Starbucks. I met Nadine almost six years ago when we both were living in Malaysia. She now lives in Kunshan for an internship to finish her degree. I was genuinely blown away by the design and execution of the building and the quality of the drinks.
You can see the beans being roasted on the first floor and tubes on the ceiling that transport the freshly roasted beans to different parts of the store. The second floor is devoted entirely to tea which is fair given that China is a country of tea! In fact, Starbucks took a risk investing their coffee brand into China and it has paid off! While they have expanded their tea selections in stores, I heard that every 15 hours a Starbucks opens somewhere in China and that they are growing 7% per year compared to the States growth at 3%. While yes, this reserve flagship store is packed with people and sometimes you do have to que to get into the store, IT IS WELL WORTH IT!
The second floor which is devoted to tea has an infusion of science with drinks being made with nitrogen. It really is fascinating to watch it all be executed at a very high level.
Sunday night I had a moment where I realized, yes I am in Shanghai. I decided to go to The Bund in the evening to look at the famous Pudong syline in the evening. I now know what it is like to be herded like a sheep. Blocks away from The Bund, waves of people were walking to and from with police every twenty feet trying to direct what felt like all of Shanghai. I started to get overwhelmed with all the police blowing whistles and crowd talking that I put my headphones in and listened to Taylor Swift to ease my anxiety. I later learned that it is this crowded every single night of the week. But you know what, it was worth it! Looking at the glowing skyscrapers of Pudong really gave me a moment. A moment where I realized that wow, I moved to Shanghai. I just picked up my whole life and moved.
It’s moments like these where the world seems that big yet quite small and connected all at the same time.
Everyone else seems amazed or impressed that I moved to Shanghai, but it actually feels quite normal to me. There isn’t some big shock to my system all at once, but rather small daily things where I realize that no, I am not in Colorado anymore. My job asked me for my motto the other day and I thought of the saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” However, I am in China and the land of tea so I decided to modify it to “When life gives you lemons, make green tea.”
So that’s what I am going to keep trying to do. Make green tea.
P.S. in other news I upgraded to the Ferrari of umbrellas and my life has changed forever. Rain or shine, umbrellas are there for you.