Written by Matic Pilko, our friend and 2016 Shanghai Summer School Alumni
As they say, change is the only constant. In my humble opinion, the best way to live is to embrace change and make the most of it. And which country knows about change better than China? China has opened its doors to the world and experienced exponential economic growth, grown from rural villages to mega-cities pulsating with energy, made a move from its long reliance of coal as an energy source to transiting to renewable energy. China has undergone a change like never before in the past decade but its people are taking it in their stride, and it is evident in the way they live – full of passion, vigour and determination, all while keeping their culture alive.
My desire to venture into the unknown was sparked by a conversation with a friend of mine, who imparted to me one of the best pieces of advice in my life thus far, that “the best knowledge you can get is out there, exploring the world”. I considered his words for a while and realized how true they were. The best way to learn about new cultures, make new friends and experience new things is not by sitting around and waiting for things to happen, but by making plans to see the world.
A few days later, Shanghai Summer School happened to visit our university to tell us more about the experience. The city of Shanghai, often referred to as the “Paris of the East”, was a complete mystery to me until then. I did not know anything about the history of the city and the tremendous growth it had undergone, I was shocked to realize that it was a city of 25 million people, I did not expect this Chinese city to be one of the most modern cities in the world, I was not aware of the fascinating contrasts that make Shanghai so special – the old and the new, tradition and modernity, peaceful yet energetic. That day I made the decision to join Shanghai Summer School, and the rest, as they say, is history.
It was in July 2016 when I laid eyes on Shanghai for the first time. I fell in love with the city during my time there. I couldn’t really explain why, but it was a feeling I had that wanted to call this city my home away from home. For a long time, I did not understand what drew me to the city so strongly, but I’ve since come to realize why. I had fallen in love with Shanghai because of the locals I had met there, the new friends made and the invaluable experiences I had gained. Shanghai had given me so much that I often feel ashamed for not being able to give something back in return.
It has been almost two years since I’ve left China, but I’m still in close contact with those who attended Shanghai Summer School with me, and with my Chinese friends in Shanghai. Signing up for Shanghai Summer School that fateful day turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Shanghai Summer School provides you with an experience that you can build upon throughout life, through learning a new language, discovering a new culture and people. A stay in the exceptional Chinese metropolis allows an individual to adopt a new perspective, which says, that values are relative and that something is not necessarily right or wrong, but instead one way or the other. Acquired knowledge of Chinese language and cultural specific is a solid foundation for further studies or a broad selection of knowledge in a promising business career.