Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You've had a birthday, shout hooray!

My birthday is this weekend!  Soon I will be a year older, and hopefully wiser too.  Here are some highlights from the last year:
  • Found out that I did super well on the LSAT, paving the way for applying to law school
  • Flew to Detroit to audition for membership in GCNA (guild of carillonneurs in north america); unfortunately, the jury was rigged (a touchy subject with me still, but it was a growing experience at least)
  • Finished my coursework at BYU by taking spring and summer classes, among them a math class after having had no math for five years
  • Packed up and said goodbye to Provo permanently, at least as a place to live
  • Went home to Malaysia, spent a few fun days in Thailand with Eve, Hudson, and Annie, back to Malaysia, and then to China!
  • Studied at Nanjing University for a semester with the Chinese Flagship program; had an awesome roommate from Dalian named Xin Qiang
  • Went on an epic trip to Chongqing, Chengdu, Dazu, and Mt. Emei over National Week; slept in an airport, on a bus, on a monastery floor, in a hostel, and in a super-sweet hotel room (courtesy of Dad points)
  • Went to Harbin over Christmas with Seth, Maryia, and Ming Wen, Seth's roommate - nearly froze to death and spent Christmas Eve sleeping on a train!
  • Another incredible vacation: nearly a month for Chinese New Year spent taking Ben, Seth, Josef, Jonathan, and Lena around Bali, Malaysia, and Singapore - so many good times!
  • Moved to Beijing, worked in a law firm there for just over 3 months
  • Applied to law schools; visited Chicago and Stanford in whirlwind weekend trips and ultimately decided on Stanford
  • Moved to Shanghai via Nanjing and Suzhou to do a short internship here before heading home

I am so blessed!  When I list everything I've been able to experience in the last year, the hard times and annoyances pale in comparison.  Here's hoping this year will bring more happy memories.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Oh, Shanghai

Tomorrow I will have been in Shanghai for two weeks.  And two weeks from today I'm flying back to the United States!  What an adventure this year in China has been.  I'm glad I will have this fairly comprehensive (if spotty in consistency) record of my time here.

New developments in work: I've been busier at DLA than I was at LexField.  Lots of documents to edit, and I got to sit in on and help translate a bit of a training we hosted for some startup companies here.  Some of their business models were interesting, but for the most part they had absolutely no idea how to explain themselves or present their pitches.  I went in and out of the meetings, but from the snippets I caught I wasn't terribly impressed.

My longish-term project I'm doing for Kaichen is an analysis of what might happen to private/foreign investments in China if the government collapses or undergoes a radical transformation in the near future, based on similar events in Indonesia and other places.  I haven't done much research on it yet, but it's looking interesting so far.

Ben, Seth, Jonathan, Chandler, Sisi Messick and I went clothes shopping on Saturday.  But not just to the store.  No, sir.  We went to the fabric market and got fitted and picked out styles and buttons and sleeves and the whole shebang!  Sisi was our fashion coach.  We each got several dress shirts, long and short-sleeved, Ben and Chandler got suits, and Seth got a cashmere coat made, all at ridiculously cheap prices!  My long-sleeved shirts were 100 kuai (just over $15) and short-sleeved were 90 kuai.  The suits and coat were 500 kuai, or $80!  I really liked the cashmere coat, but I couldn't justify buying one, since I already have a winter coat and a peacoat and a trench coat, and I certainly won't need any of them very often at Stanford.  But still.  I spent just over $100 on 6 fitted dress shirts!  On our way out, we bought ties - silk ties for 8 kuai ($1.25) each!  Crazy.  Then we went to the pearl market and Seth and I bought some shorts and Ben bought some shoes, again for ridiculously cheap prices.  I'm glad Hannah and Brent are moving here next year - if I ever need any dress clothes, I'll make sure to have them buy them in Shanghai.

The Shanghai Branch is really good to the YSAs here - every Sunday a member has the whole group over for dinner after church.  Yesterday was at Sister Wang's house.  She's Taiwanese and married to a man who's not a member of the church, and they're both super nice.  There were 7 of us who went, and she had more than enough food for everyone; really good angel hair pasta, green curry with rice, salad, fresh whole grain bread with butter...and decadent chocolate cake for dessert!  Sooooooo good!  Her husband worked for Singapore Airlines in marketing for 30 years, and now he lives here and studies Mandarin while she works in interior design.  I'm so grateful for people like that who open up their homes and make young singles feel welcome and at home.

Ben left this morning for Hong Kong; I won't see him again until I maybe see him in July in Utah, depending on how my plans work out.  Everyone is going their separate ways in the next few weeks; Seth finished his internship on Thursday, and Chandler is done and traveling around already.  Joel and Jonathan finish this week, I think.  I'm glad to be so nearly done with the two-year endurance race this Flagship program has turned out to be, but I'm also a little nostalgic for all the good times we had together and everything I experienced over this two years.  If I had to do it over again, I think I would choose to come, despite (maybe because of?) the hard times, because of the friends I've made and the things I've learned about China and about myself.