Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Learning to get pushed around (Week 1, out of order)

**This post was written June 15th , but couldn’t be posted because of *ahem* blogspot inaccessibility (see previous post on Blogspot). Also, pictures don't really correlate that well to blog, they will in future ones.

I arrived in Shanghai on June 7th for my first trip to China. My flight from Chicago to Shanghai was delayed by six hours and I was afraid the woman from China Universal Asset Management (CUAM) who was supposed to pick me up would no longer be there. After the other Harvard students were all picked up by their respective hosts, I still could not find mine. So, I decided to take a taxi. No big deal, right? I soon discovered the Chinese I had taken for a year was not nearly sufficient enough to explain my destination. Luckily, my dad had texted me the hotel address earlier and some of the airport staff could read and translate the address for the driver. He called the hotel to ask for more details, and we were on our way. Thus began one of the scarier car rides in my life.

When driving in Shanghai, lanes are vague suggestions and for many taxis so are stoplights. I discovered this on the way to my hotel that first night as well as on numerous other rides I have taken through the city. I also discovered the concept of personal space is a bit different here. Little nudges in the back, shoulder bumps strong enough to knock my unaware self over, and the shrinkage of my personal bubble space by approximately 2 feet pretty well describe public experiences on the metro, at malls, or anywhere busy- which in Shanghai, is everywhere. Learning how to accept being, quite literally, pushed around is definitely necessary in order to go with the flow and successfully make it onto a metro car during rush hour. So far, driving and spatial assumptions were pretty different. Would everything be shaken up?

The building I'm working in and my co-worker, Shreya '10

My first day at work showed me they wouldn’t be. CUAM is just like other financial firms in the U.S. complete with amazing views of the city, elegant conference rooms, and late, hard working individuals. I have spent a lot of my time here paying attention to how oil and food prices are moving and giving my thoughts on the matters of global inflation, interest rates, economic growth, subsidies, etc. to the rest of the department. In a weird way, I am coming to love oil. After learning how to use Bloomberg a world of information was opened up and I went from just analyzing daily movements to seeing a much bigger picture. Talks with the analysts at CUAM have given me a really global view of the world’s markets and are causing me to see things in a way I haven’t before. All my experiences in Shanghai are slowly causing me to do this. I already think getting pushed often is normal.

Me at a restaurant eating hotpot chicken bones- with a plastic glove on my hand and slurping juice out of the center...