Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Interview Process & Summer Plans

I'm so, so happy that I got my first choice of job for the upcoming summer!! :D Not really going to go around announcing it in person, but then... for those who read my blog, I'm going to be in New York this summer ^^

Written a couple of months ago while I was still in Shanghai, so you there are some..tense differences:

The process was quite nerve-wracking to be honest.

Since I'm in Shanghai, I kept worrying about being at a disadvantage of not being able to go into the interview in person. Like, I would have to be extra, extra impressive because they can only hear me through the phone. It's also a very competitive firm and position...on a side note, I'm curious to know how big the applicant pool is. 

In late October, I had my first interview and it was kinda bad loll because I felt like I said really stupid and insignificant things. One question I got was something along the lines of, "Tell me about a time where you had to teach someone something" and I talked about how I help my friend with her Chinese in Shanghai and somehow I started talking about how we always walk around the street aimlessly to find a restaurant with an English menu because we don't know how to order food otherwise wtf. Oh yeah, also we were supposed to do a video call, but my internet in my dorm was too slow to support the platform, so it ended up being a phone interview instead.

But a few days later, I got an email saying I made it to the next round of interviews. But then the sign up was full, so I panicked because I thought I fucked up by not signing up right when I got the email (time difference, so I was asleep when it was emailed).

Then I emailed the lady telling her about the issue I had with their video platform, but it was the only thing I was allowed to use and there weren't any alternatives, aside from phone call if it disconnected.. but I felt like it's such a disadvantage for me to not be able to show up to the event and then the interview day (hours long with activities I'm assuming), but it's even more impersonal to just be a phone call.. so I actually tried seeing if I could fly in because it was an option, but they didn't allow international travels >< 

Two weeks later, the night of my interview... it was at 2:00AM local time. The day before I had to scurry to find a place with an adequate internet connection and it turns out campus internet is a lot better and passes the speed test. But the issue was where can I go at that time of the night with privacy? 

I was able to get a key (luckily!!) for one of the classrooms in this building, but it closes at 11:00PM, so I asked the security guard if I could stay there for my interview. He said it's fine, but the condition was getting in before 11:00PM when they locked up and not leaving until 5:30AM because they probs want to sleep lol. 

There were some technical difficulties, but more on their end. I thought the interviews went well, but didn't want to get my hopes up. Plus during the interview, a lot of times, someone would knock and tell them the time is up, so I didn't want to keep them and I would kinda rush them off >_< So didn't know if they took that badly or not, ehh. 

I finished up my thank you emails and went back home. The security guard was very nice about letting me out too. I'm super grateful to them for that. 

But then that night, after I went to bed, I actually received an email from one of my interviewers telling me that I got the internship!! So I was super, super happy. In a way, I felt like a fuck up for bumming around the past two summers, but I think this is definitely something that makes up for it. I wanted a New York internship last year as well, but I never really made the effort to look for one there, but I'm glad that I did this time because it's something that I've wanted.

Super grateful for the upcoming opportunity.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Hangzhou: Lingyin Temple & Tea

November 15, 2014
The next morning I woke up earlier for breakfast. We went to 灵隐寺 (Lingyin Temple) and I was hesitant about going in because of superstitious reasons, but did so anyways. It’s in a mountainous area and it was pretty big. 
The temple itself was huge as well, like you go through the back and there's an area/temple building and then go through the back of that and there's another one. It kind of reminds me of the Forbidden City.

Headed to 梅家坞 (Meijiawu village) for lunch at 欣怡茶庄 (Xinyi Tea House and Restaurant)
Address: 梅家坞 89号梅家坞停车场内
Someone from the program was being kind of pissy because I was taking photos of the food >:( I guess I can see where s/he's coming from...but calm yourself please. 

We went to the Mei Family Tea Farming Village to learn about 龙井茶 (Longjing tea). Bought some too, but it was so expensive :O It was RMB300 for a small can and a half :o I can't even distinguish my teas that well, so.. I dunno. It's probably more expensive at this particular place too, but we weren't going to have the opportunity of buying it elsewhere, so I just bought it anyways.

We took a bullet train back to Shanghai and that concludes our weekend in Hangzhou.
Part one can be read >>here<<

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Thanksgiving in Shanghai

As you may or may not know, Thanksgiving isn't celebrated abroad. Luckily, our program organized a dinner for us to get together. 

I came from the fabric market, and since I had to make adjustments and order more things, we ended up a bit late.
Saw this beauty on our way to the restaurant. I think the Oriental Pearl Tower will always be my favorite-looking telecom tower...

Food spam:
Fried 腐竹 dish.. omg so delicious. Probably my second favorite dish of the night
So many veggies... 我的肉呢?!

Now the ultimate question is... did we have turkey? Nope. Ate 烤鸭 (roasted duck) instead. I think each table had two whole ducks. -drools- it was so yummy and tender.
Roasted duck skin
Fried (?) rest of the duck

People don't eat turkey in Shanghai (or China, as far as I know), so I think it's appropriate and clever to eat 烤鸭 instead. From what I heard, they sell (uncooked?) turkeys for like $100 O_O Dang.

 I felt like the only one eating at the table. I probably ate half of the food T_T;; 

In the end, they served us this uh fried shrimp thing. But they ran out of trees to place them on, so our table only had a plain dish!
So when the other table finished, we took their tree and decorated it ourselves.. the waitress laughed at us but helped us with putting it on.

To end the night, we walked to the Bund and the weather was really nice too, so it was perfect! 
Still not the best shot, but the best for me. I've been wanting to go to the Bund at night since I never did all semester. My feet were starting to hurt from my heels, so after some complaining, we went home :X 

I am thankful for having the opportunity to be abroad and travel after the semester. I'm glad I met some of the people that I did. Doesn't take Thanksgiving to make me realize this, but I think I am blessed for what I have now. ^^

I took some leftovers for lunch because I had work the next day. I had to go back into my room to change jackets and during the process, I left the box of food on my bed and found it after I got back from Beijing that weekend fml

If interested, below are the details of the restaurant:
Restaurant: 老北京 (Lao Beijing)
Address: 河南南路1号,靠近延安东路 (No. 1 Henan Nan Lu, near Yan’an Dong Lu)
Nearest station: Yuyuan (Line 10), Exit 1

Until next time!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hangzhou: West Lake (杭州: 西湖)

November 14, 2014
On Friday afternoon, I left work a little earlier than usual to head over to Hongqiao Railway Station (虹桥火车站) to catch the high-speed (G) train to Hangzhou. It was only 1hr 12mins away and it is pretty punctual. It's basically like a train version of a plane because the seats are the same with an overhead for luggage and it's a very smooth ride.

We met our tour guide when we got off the train and she brought us to the restaurant. It was frustrating talking to her cuz she barely understood me. Like I tried to tell her my Chinese name and she kept mishearing me.

Me: it's XXX
Me: No, no it's XXX

Even if you didn't hear the exact word you should at least understand no and not ask if it's the same word. Cuz this repeated itself a few times. Made me want to strangle her. 
 We went to 杭州酒家 (Hangzhou Restaurant) for dinner and tried a bunch of different food like beggar’s chicken and 东坡肉. The food was overall pretty good, 4/5.
 So I got the chance of using the hammer thing and knocking on it for luck
Viola! The inside of the thing above.
 We checked into the Merchant Marco Hotel (杭州马可波罗酒店) and I thought it was going to be a sketchy place at first because that’s what it looked like as we headed toward the building, but then as we closer and saw through the glass doors into the lobby, it was a REALLY nice hotel. My room was HUGE as well compared to some of other others. Out of four other rooms that I saw/heard about, mine was definitely a lot bigger.

In photos it looks like a very standard-sized room though T_T But there was a huge “living room” space and there was like a small hallway for the closet. The bathroom was divided into the sink area, toilet room, and bath/shower room. 

 We didn’t really do much for the rest of the night because it was already about 10:00PM and freezing cold outside. We walked around the neighborhood and found a store called Miniso that sold just about anything for really cheap. I bought pens that were 3 for 10RMB. Oh yeah, I guess stuffing myself during dinner wasn’t enough because I also went to this fast food restaurant and ordered fries.

November 15, 2014
Breakfast the next morning was buffet styled on the second floor of the hotel. It was a mix of Western and Chinese, but mostly Chinese. It was pretty good, except I wish that ice cream wasn’t only for lunchtime :(

Kitty makes her first guest appearance (photo stolen from Cory)
(photo stolen from Cory)
 Saw so many wedding shoots here!

We went to the West Lake (西湖) for a boat ride that lasted an hour. It was very relaxing, except it got chilly towards the end. I’m also a bit disappointed that the area we were in wasn’t as pretty as what we saw on our way to be dropped off because the lake was like glistening but not from what we saw when we got off… 
We also walked around 郭庄, a Chinese classical garden with bonzais and a shop to make a stamp out of your name. 
 I was still pretty full from breakfast, but we had a lunch buffet at 西湖国宾馆 (Xihu State Guest House). There was so much seafood, yumm….and dessert… yummmm^2. Needless to say, I helped myself to seconds and then proceeded to two servings of ice cream and then cake. Not even surprised.
During the afternoon, most of us opted to bike around the West Lake. There are a lot of rental shops in the area and I believe it should be 10RMB/hr, and did it for two hours. I had mixed feelings about the activity though. It wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds because although you’re biking around the West Lake, it’s really just on the roads so you’re probably….biking 25-50 feet away from the water itself.

Most of our group also biked on the sidewalk and it was really frustrating to do so because the place is PACKED with pedestrians and I got fed up with having to stop every 10 seconds just because people were in the way or the person biking in front stopped. I can understand that they’re hesitant to bike on the road alongside the cars, but it really isn’t that bad at all because the cars keep their distance and so I just started biking on the road after 10 minutes. >< In the end Cory and I just ended up biking at our own pace because it was easier that way and the further we biked off, the less crowded it got. 

Trying to look artsy, but I don't think it was working (photo stolen from Cory)

 Towards the end was kind of frustrating again. We all met up after the Six Bridges and biked back to return our bikes but we kept stopping every 3 minutes to make sure we were going the right direction. But the thing with this is that the lake is round…you really have to just follow that path and you’ll go back to where you started. I honestly could’ve just biked back on my own without stopping so many times. 

 There was also another incident. At some point, I was trying to pass this girl from my program. We were on the road and fenced against the sidewalk, but there was a good amount of space for me to pass her without getting too close. Just as I was doing so, she SWERVED towards me and almost hit me, but didn’t. She gave me an attitude and told me that I should’ve rung my bell. I think it’s a pretty legitimate suggestion, except for her tone of voice and her attitude toward me in general was unnecessary. 

Which leads me to mention another incident that happened a few weeks prior to the bike incident: 
Class just ended and we were walking together down the hall towards the elevator. Just as we reached the elevator, she suddenly stops, so naturally I did too. Except the elevator was open and had plenty of space for us to go in. After a few seconds of just standing there, the elevator closed and went down without us.

So I asked her why she didn’t go in and she shrugged it off. So I asked again because I don’t understand why you would suddenly stop in front of an open elevator and not go in (and you weren’t waiting for anyone else either). With an attitude, she told me that if I wanted to go in, I should’ve just gone. But wtf? I was walking with you and if you stopped, obviously I would stop and not go in as well. Next time should I have shoved you aside so I can get in? I could not understand her logic and was about to bitch back but just didn’t want to bother and dropped in. 
After returning the bikes, we went to Old Street to look around for 5 minutes before heading to dinner, which lead to the restaurant incident that I wrote about >>here<<.

On the brighter side, here are food photos:
Went back to the hotel afterwards and just relaxed for a bit. Then we went out to a jazz bar, except we didn’t know it was a jazz bar. So I was surprised. There was this American girl singing. I was kind of like fml because:
1) It was a jazz bar and not what we expecting
2) It was hot
The drinks were pretty good hehe but not strong enough, but the bartender was nice about making it stronger. We went back to the hotel after an hour and a half or so. It was kind of funny because it was literally a 2 minutes cab ride so I felt like a lazy fuck and congrats to the two cab drivers for making easy money. It was supposed to be a 15 minute walk, but as I said, I’m a lazy fuck so I opted for the cabs. -privileged- jk, not that privileged, it was less than $2, which is what a person would normally pay for a train ride anyways.

Until next time!