I write this from the 34th floor of one of the tallest skyscrapers, on one of the busiest shopping streets (Nanjing Road), in the world’s largest city (Shanghai). The West gives China a list of superlatives so my last six months on swap here has been a test to see what life is really like behind all the hype – interspersed with casework of course... It turns out it is pretty good!
Shanghai’s office routine is quite different to London. Walking to work involves daily flutters with death: if you survive the scooters, delivery men, bicycles, buses, tractors, bamboo scaffolding all spilling over the pavements in downtown, then L.E.K. rewards you with a delicious breakfast spread of dumplings and wontons. Lunch breaks are sacred and the whole office empties to eat in peer groups. Food is central and excellent.
Shanghai is a buzzing city with plenty to do. From the elegant tree-lined streets of the French Concession to the colonial colonnades of the Bund, and the futuristic skyline in Pudong, there is masses to explore. I’ve tried to make the most of being in Asia by travelling: I explored the Great Barrier Reef in Australia over Chinese New Year, and headed to Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei on weekends. North Korea is next. The office annual Christmas retreat was to Osaka – sushi, sake and the chance to visit Universal Studios (who could miss it?!) It’s been the best six months of my time at L.E.K. so far!