My mind swelled up with some weird feeling as I found a packet with my name—“Educatrium / Ji Yun.” It could have been joy, excitement, nervousness, exhaustion, or all of the above. One thing I knew for sure was that despite my 19-hour flight and my day that was ongoing for its 27th hour, I was happy. I was in Shanghai, the second biggest city in China, a city that is full with beautiful memories, beautiful views, and—now I know—beautiful people.
My boss lead me straight to the office, not to the apartment. To be honest, I was pretty self-conscious at first. My hair was all oily, my face was dry, and most of all, I didn’t know what was going on. My co-workers, however, all looked very professional and seemed to know exactly what they are doing. If I were them, I would avoid getting near me ;) Despite my worries, however, they cordially welcomed me and patiently taught me whatever I needed or wanted to know. As I was standing in the glass-wall room what they called “Think Tank,” half-listening and half-“tiring”, I could feel my tense gage go down. I told myself, “ok, I can do this.”
Now, I have been here for six days. The city still treats me as a foreigner, but to me, Shanghai does not feel as foreign anymore. In fact, this city has been a place of new adventures and inner growth. I am truly happy to be here, in Shanghai, with my soon-to-be-friends co-workers.
Over the next few days, I roamed around the foreign city, using my broken (almost non-existent) Chinese, trying new Chinese food, taking pictures, and watching a circus. There was always that awkward moment when Shanghainese people speak freely to me in Chinese—because I look Chinese—and then be startled as I just return a blank expression. But they soon understand that I am Korean and kindly try to explain with body language. Oh, and don’t forget, my co-workers have been kind enough to translate anything that I need in Chinese—to the best of their ability.
Jiyun attends Dartmouth College. She enjoys playing video games, learning new languages, and reading "Romance of the Three Kingdoms." In fact, on average she has read 1 novel per week over the course of the last decade. That's over 520 books!