Week 1: Something Familiar, Something New

It has been two weeks since I left the United States. Last week, I spent with my family in Taiwan. Having spent eight years there before law school, I felt right at home in the hustle and bustle of Taipei City. The highlight of my time in Taipei was taking my daughters to a Taiwanese amusement park: Window on China. The park has dozens of beautiful minatures of various landmarks in Taiwan, China, and the rest of the world. It was interesting to see the beautiful detail and see a bit of the beautiful diversity that our world enjoys displayed in 3-5 foot tall miniatures.

While Taipei was a welcome break from the stresses of law school--and a treat for my stomach to enjoy the delicious Taiwanese food--I was also anxious to get to work. I knew this summer was going to be a totally new, exiting, and challenging experience. At the end of the week I said good-bye to my family (for the time being), repacked my suitcase (the third time in two weeks) and headed off to Shanghai.

I had visited the Mainland before (Beijing, Nanjing, Guilin, Xingyi, and Yunnan). None of that prepared me for Shanghai. Things can get a little crazy in a city with an official population of over 26 million people--in truth, the real figure is probably higher. Taipei's hustle and bustle is a jog, Shanghai's is a sprint. Simply boarding the metro can be a challenge as people use the sides of metro doors as leverage to squeeze one more body into the car. Even lining up to check out at a store often devolves into a shoving match to see who can gain the clerk's attention first. While these things habits may seem crass to many westerners, I have come to realize that this is really a necessity of life. In a country with over a billion people and a high amount of income disparity, it's every man for himself.

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a warm welcome to Shanghai, though. A William & Mary alumni whom I work with at Dentons, graciously hosted me for my first weekend in Shanghai. The highlight of the weekend was beginning the greatest food-adventure of my life. Obviously, I have a taste for Chinese food. What most westerners don't realise, though, is the sheer variety of what we would call "Chinese food." The styles and tastes between  from different regions of China vary as much as those between the countries of Europe. In the short time I have been here I have enjoyed Bubble Tea from Taiwan, Ginger Fried Rice from Guangdong, Cold Noodles from Shanxi, Spicy Peanut Noodles from Sichuan, and barbecued goat from Xinjiang. I would be remiss, however, if I did not mention the delicious Sheng Jian Bao--dumplings that have been both steamed and fried, a speciality of Shanghai City.

As much as I am looking forward to enjoying the food here, I am even more excited about the fascinating work I have been doing. That, along with my experience during my first week at the office, will be the topic of my next post.