Elias Mayer | An experience that shook my world
Elias is a student coming from Munich, Germany. He’s the last one to share about his Shanghai Summer School experience before application period closes down.
Before joining summer school Elias didn’t know what to expect. The experience opened his horizons and helped him to get a job at a Swiss multinational. He’s now doing his best to be able to move back to Shanghai.
1: What made you apply for Shanghai Summer School?
I didn’t plan on applying for Shanghai Summer School. I remember googling for something for an exam I had the upcoming week when I came across an ad for Shanghai Summer School. And we all know how it is when you’re studying – everything else is suddenly extra interesting. I clicked on the ad and read more about the summer school on the website. At that point, I didn’t know much about Shanghai, but the experience looked really cool. I started researching a bit more about the city and by the end of the day, I had applied for Shanghai Summer School.
We all gathered at the park in front of the student dorm to hang out. While talking to the other participants I realized that most of them came alone as well so technically, we were all not alone!
2: Being the global city that it is, you meet people from all corners of the world in Shanghai. Where did some of the people you met come from?
You know, I applied for Shanghai Summer School alone – I didn’t know anyone and I have to admit I was a little afraid of how things will turn out. But soon after arriving in Shanghai, I realized that my concerns were totally unfounded. After checking into our rooms, we all gathered at the park in front of the student dorm to hang out. While talking to the other participants I realized that most of them came alone as well so technically, we were all not alone! Later during the summer school I got to know many other people who were in Shanghai for various reasons – some for work, some for internships, some just travelling.
I am happy to be able to say that I stayed in touch with most of the people I met at Shanghai Summer School. We visit each other occasionally. We have also been discussing a reunion in Shanghai someday. It will be a little difficult to make it happen but if there’s a will there’s a way!
3: Was attending Shanghai Summer School the first time you’d been in China?
It was, but it sure wasn’t the last time! I went back to Shanghai twice since then. The energy of the city is addictive.
Although I was aware that I would be going to a whole new world, I still experienced a bit of culture shock at the very beginning. I soon got used to things though.
I think that a large part of this quick assimilation was thanks to the team behind Shanghai Summer School though. I remember that you guys readily helped us ease into the city, especially by introducing us to the food there, as Chinese food is so different from ours.
4: The Shanghai Summer School program is packed full of afternoon activities after the daily Chinese lessons in the mornings. Which was/were your favourite afternoon activity(ies)?
I liked that the programme was packed!! It was really difficult for me to pick just one activity, but the most memorable activity was probably the morning runs we took. We’d wake up at 4 am and run along the banks of the Huang Pu River. Just a short 20-25 minute run each time. We’d start off our run at the Bund and end at the Cruise terminal where there is a really nice park where we could sit and watch the sunrise. The feeling of sitting there in silence and watching the city wake up…is absolutely breathtaking. They were not part of the official programme but they are some of my favourite memories.
5: In what ways do you think the Shanghai Summer School experience made you more of an interesting candidate in the eyes of your future employers?
I am currently working for a Swiss company that has its own subsidiary in Shanghai. They do a lot of investments in Shanghai too. I’m pretty sure that my experience in Shanghai was one of the factors that made me more attractive to my current employer.
I remember thinking I had just lived the best month of my life. I had used my time 100% efficiently and wouldn’t change a thing about it!
6: Why do you think Shanghai Summer School contributed to it?
As I mentioned previously, I knew almost nothing about Shanghai or China before going for Shanghai Summer School and didn’t speak a word of Chinese of course. But during the summer school we learnt a lot about the Chinese culture, ways of working with Chinese people and basic Chinese.
I honestly didn’t have high hopes of getting the job because I felt I was not very qualified for it. But for some reason, I was called down for an interview and in the end the entire interview was about China. For 45 minutes we spoke only about China and my experience at Shanghai Summer School and… I got the job!
I am now taking an intensive Chinese language course back home because I got a hint that I might receive an offer to move to Shanghai. I hope it happens soon. ;P
7. One of our past participants said that that the only thing he didn’t like was the length of the program. He said that the time passed too quickly. 🙂 Do you think 4 weeks is enough to experience the city to its fullest?
I could not agree with it more. When I applied for the summer school, four weeks sounded like a lot of time – I had never taken a month-long vacation before.
But once we got on with the programme everything started to fly by so quickly. Chinese classes in the morning, different afternoon activities every day, and a different party experience almost every night…there was no time to rest at all. At some point we realized that three weeks had already passed and we had no idea how that happened.
8. If New York is the city that never sleeps, then Shanghai is the city that doesn’t even sit down.” Did you experience those sleepless vibes?
Oh yeah, I did. Hahaha. The only thing I missed in Shanghai was sleeping. But I didn’t want to miss a thing! I attended all the lectures, never missed a Chinese class, went for all the cultural activities and of course attended all the parties. That means that I woke up at 8:30 am every morning and never went to bed before midnight.
I was exhausted after coming home but it was a special kind of tiredness. I remember thinking I had just lived the best month of my life. I had used my time 100% efficiently and wouldn’t change a thing about it!
9. What do you think about our slogan. “An experience that will change the way you see the world”? Do you think that the way you saw the world changed after your Shanghai Summer School experience?
It surely changed my life. I met so many new friends, some really good friends, and even got me my current job which I love!
It is just an amazing experience that will give you more than you expect at the beginning. It opens your mind.
10. Would you like to return to Shanghai and/or China again?
Of course. It feels like second home already. I’ve returned to revisit it as a tourist once and once for a work trip. It was really nice going back. So many priceless memories connected to the city.
Dear boss, if you’re reading this, please let me move to Shanghai for work soon. It would be a dream come true. hahaha
11. Would you recommend Shanghai Summer School to your peers? What would you say to convince those who are still hesitating about taking the leap?
I already did and I will recommend it to everyone. It is just an amazing experience that will give you more than you expect at the beginning. It opens your mind. I think Shanghai Summer School is perfect for people who are still searching for a purpose, for people who don’t have their paths made yet and also for people who already have their paths set. Believe me,it shook my world.
Describe SSS in one word? Breakthrough
Favourite Chinese character? 友 – Yǒu – friend
Favourite food? Fried dumplings!
Favourite place in Shanghai? Xintiandi at night
Shanghai Summer School provides you with an experience which 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.