Zoe Laulederkind

Business Intern | Shanghai
Rhodes College
21 July 2016

I’ve only lived in two cities my entire 20 years of life, both with populations around 600,000. I’ve only lived in one country where the majority of people look like me. Shanghai, with a reported population in 2014 of around 24 million and a majority of obviously Chinese people, it was a huge step out of my comfort zone to say the least; however, it was a step I will never forget and never regret. Connect-123 helped me ease into this new stride I experienced in China by finding me a stellar apartment with two girls that I know will be friends with for life. Together, we, as participants of Connect-123, navigated Shanghai from the Pearl Tower to the Yu Garden, and beyond Shanghai from Guiyang to Beijing. Our bonds stem from our most vulnerable selves as foreigners, interns, and adventurers which makes them more intricate than the average roommate or coworker connections back home.

Although all three of us interned in different offices around the city, going to work every day was still a blast. Before arriving in Shanghai, I had only ridden the subway once or twice in NYC. Suddenly I found myself riding the subway every day to my internship, getting to know the various routes around the city, and understanding the true value of clean public transportation. The subway serves as a sort of unification of the working people as we all share in this common daily ritual. I loved it! Despite the ride’s occasional hot and stuffy atmosphere, the air-conditioned Starbucks on the first floor of my office building awaited me kindly. My office was air conditioned too which made for excellent working conditions. I had my own desk and usually daily assignments or week long projects to complete. My boss was flexible and intelligent, and my co-workers exposed me to a variety of restaurants on our daily lunch breaks during which they were amiable and talkative. I learned more than you can imagine about Chinese Tax Law, foreign owned enterprises, and basic Chinese business logistics all the while living in a city that taught me independence, courage, and perseverance. Without Connect-123, all of the above would have been impossible. So I guess I should say Connect-123 makes what you believe to be impossible abroad, possible.

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