Square One: The Hunt

Here I am, back at square one: the job hunt.  It's funny too because I thought I had my life all figured out. My network in Shanghai has been continuously expanding these past few months, in public relations, marketing, ... Now, I pick up and leave all of it behind? It seems that this is the way my cookie crumbles and its time to bake a new one. Question is...double fudge chocolate chip or toffee  macadamia nut?

Ever since I made the rash decision to move back home, I have become obsessed with searching for jobs online. The only problem is, I have no network and I have no idea what I want to do. I'm not completely lost, but I need some serious guidance. In Shanghai, I always imagined I would go into public relations. I love a fast-paced work environment (which is why it didn't work out with Moet Hennessy) and I love having several different projects to work on at once. Not only that, I enjoy some human interaction, not like some cubicle hermit I had been (and had to be). Unfortunately, most of the PR firms are in SF and as much as everyone loves SF, I try to avoid it.

Since I am trying to save some money (for once) and live at home, commuting to SF with all the traffic would drive me insane. Not only that, I'm hearing that gas prices are skyrocketing and I'm not ready to ride my gas- efficient motorcycle on the freeway just yet (or ever). Because of my whiny, "can't wake up in the morning to commute" self, I'm looking for positions in Silicon Valley. Furthermore, because I am not a tech-genius like my parents, I won't be applying for engineering positions anytime soon. This leads me to my other passion: HR.

I see the shock on your face. Several family members and friends have asked me, "why HR"? Well honestly, because I know I'll be great at it. Coordinating interviews - I love talking to and meeting new people, easy. Coordinate event planning for internal events - been there, done that, easy. Train new hires - more talking, and taking control, awesome!  Paperwork, filing, calendars, organization - I'm textbook OCD with this stuff, perfect.

So, I've narrowed it down to PR and HR, both people positions. But...now what?
I am a firm believer in creating a network, because referrals go much farther than e-applications. I'd love some suggestions on how to restart from square one.

On a side note, 9 days until my birthday, 12 days until USHER concert, and 13 days until I'm back in California! I'd love some suggestions of what to do my last 2 weeks in Shanghai!

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, 再见!

The time has come, my breaking point. I will be departing Shanghai in two weeks time. This is not a decision I am happy with nor was it made lightly, but it has come to my attention that it is necessary, especially for my mental health.

While China hasn't always treated me well, you know with the pollution, people smoking everywhere (yes, even in the office), censoring my freedom of speech (or any other substantial freedoms), people screaming on their cell phones, people shoving you out of the way so they can be first in line, coughing without cover their mouths, spitting fat loogeys by your feet, cars having the right of way, not getting a work permitetc... but, I know that I will miss it...tremendously. Shanghai has been developing at a rapid pace for the past decade, and I can only imagine what will become of it when I return back to the US. I can only hope that along with expansion of the skyscrapers, the people will continue to develop as well. At least I can keep in touch by reading chinaSMACK without having to use a VPN. But in the end, I will always miss the hustle and bustle of this crazy city.

To those who desire to seek work in China, make sure that you can obtain a work permit when necessary. I, along with several other friends, have been rejected for work permits because of our lack of post-graduate experience. Without a work permit, one can face serious fines and even deportation if working without one and is caught.  These past couple of years, the government has become increasingly aware of foreigners working on "F" or 'business" visas when they should have a "Z" with a work permit, and have taken action. While many expats believe that "the government won't find you", I'm not so sure I believe them. A few people in my network have already been sent back to their respective countries for cases of improper visas. Words from me to you: just be careful, this is not your country so play by their rules.

I am looking forward to returning to California for many reasons: my family, sunshine and blue skies, less pollution, 90% less smoking- make that 99% less, safe bike rides, my puppy, my motorcycle, healthy food, happy people, good cheese from happy cows, and I still have all the food options I had in China plus Chipotle and In 'N Out (major cravings). This is probably the greatest thing about California, such a great percentage is represented by the Asian minority (what an oxymoron) so specialty food has traversed across the Pacific into the heart of the Bay Area.

I know I will be displaced at first considering I haven't been home for over a year, and my parents moved while I have been away. So, I don't even know what my house/room looks like. Don't you hate waking up disoriented? Well I've felt that 3 times in the last year (from moving, silly!). I know I will feel pain, sorrow, and longing to come back to Shanghai since most of my happiest memories have been here, thanks to the amazing friends I have made. All I can say is thank you and I am so grateful for all the exciting adventures we have had. I will miss you all!

And...I will always think of you, China. Well, the good and the bad.

Oh China.

This isn't the first time I have rolled my eyes and titled my blog post "Oh China".  There are more than a handful of situations where I have had to bite my tongue and just roll my eyes to keep my frustration in. Just earlier, I waited my entire lunch break in a line at the bank to deposit my health insurance reimbursement check. It's 800HKD, which is not much but better than nothing! Once I got to the counter, the teller has no idea what to do with it. She chats with her supervisor who then tells me that I have to get it sent out to Standard Charter bank in Hong Kong then delivered back in the form of a Bank of China check. This process will take a month and half. Oh wait, there's more, I have to pay for the bank to send it out and receive it back. *Major eye roll*. I left the bank wanting to cry and scream with no resolution except to find some lunch to take back to my desk. Banking should be easy, why does this country subject its citizens to such hassle! I miss Bank of America.

Oh China.

There is more to this story. I've been having daily nosebleeds alongside major migraines, all of which I should go see a doctor for. I did, but disregarded the whole insurance bit because I first pay out of pocket, then 2 months later, the health insurance gives me a check, which is then followed by the above situation! What's the point of even having this health insurance, let alone a health insurance that doesn't even cover the consultation fee? The fee to see a doctor is 500RMB minimum for foreigners, then on top of that they charge hundreds for medication you don't need, and my insurance only covers 800HKD...which doesn't cover the hundreds for medication I don't need.

Oh China.

Not only did I spend an hour in a bank and accomplish nothing. I pass by my favorite sandwich shop and order my chicken laffa roll, NO RAISINS. She repeats no raisins, 不要葡萄干!When I get back to my office, what do I get? My chicken laffa roll with maybe 50+ raisins. ERG.

Oh China.

I also had the opportunity to meet my headhunter who landed me my current job so I could tell her how disappointed I am with the outcome. My job description had not matched up with anything she had told me, but then she has the audacity to ask me, "can you stay until the end of February? We guaranteed your company 3 months of your time". In all honesty, I think she gets paid at the end of my probation period. Well, its her fault for making this position sound 180 degrees different than it actually is. She even acted "shocked" when I told her what I am doing at work. Seriously, what type of marketing executive does finance and logistics/operations as the MAIN job objectives.

Oh China, I am almost over your inefficient ways and your goal to make me struggle.

 Thank you Liz Lemon, for the best example of an eye-roll.

Where the hell is Cassie?

My weekends have begun to fill up with activities again, even though the weather remains at a chilly 40F. More and more USAPers are returning to Shanghai, realizing there is no where else they would rather be. Yesterday, I started my day at Mr. Pancake House with some USAP ladies, welcoming Jane back to Shanghai, Kat to her new job at Groupon, and sympathizing with us who want to quit our day jobs. For a mere 28RMB, you can get a stack of 3 pancakes smothered in chocolate. Good deal? I think yes and it's a perfect way to drain your work week sorrows.

Following our delicious meal, Steph and I met up with one of the Shanghai Dolls from the previous weekend brunch and headed to Art Labor 2.0. The gallery was showcasing an artist who had taken car-exhaust and formulated a chemical "paint" substance to create beautiful works of art, painted on silk tapestry. The flyer below is an example of his work.

After spending some time at the gallery, Steph and I moseyed around French Concession, as we typically do, but I finally made the decision to get a haircut. After reading an article in Time Out Shanghai about the best (and cheaper) salons in Shanghai, I went to Hair Consultant on DongHu lu. After a hair wash with a deep scalp massage, a 10 minute cut, some blow-drying and 80RMB later, I left ecstatic about my new cut. I told the stylist to keep it long and cut away all the split ends, and this she did. Bravo Hair Consultant for not making my hair lopsided like a certain New York stylist (cough)! You will be seeing me in about six months for the same cut!

The night ensued with Steph's friend's 25th birthday house party. Enough said.

Today the highlight of my day was dancing with Matt from "Where the hell is Matt?"  I had seen my friends post about him being in China on Facebook, but didn't think twice about it until my friend Gavin messaged me asking if I was going to dance with Matt. It seems the "bad dancer" who danced his way around the world was in Shanghai continuing his dancing craze! I put on my hot pink pants (hopefully to be easily spotted in the film) and headed towards the Shanghai Science and Tech Museum.  It seems that we weren't the only ones crazy about dancing. Over 100 people showed up from ages 2 to 90 (yes, an old Chinese man in his wheelchair) were ready to dance with Matt.

Lucky for us USAPers we got a special dance by ourselves with him. 

I also went to the Karl Lagerfeld exhibit at the Bund 18 Gallery, where all the photos taken were being sold for 28,000RMB+ and they're not even from Lagerfeld's own collection. Eep...

Now that the weekend's over, I have to go back to the ol' 9-6 tomorrow. Here is an update for said job. I'm still looking for something else I am interested in, and while I contemplated quitting on Friday, my bosses stated that I have passed my probation period and will become a permanent employee come March... uh oh. I hope to hear some better news this coming week about... Well, I will let you know. 

However, I have begun another project on a volunteer basis. Another Smith alum, and a friend of mine, requested that I assist in building the foundation of a new all women's liberal arts college in Asia. How exciting! I'll be working on a market survey with a researcher in Shanghai for the next couple of months, and then reaching out to schools across Asia. I hope that something like this is much more fulfilling and rewarding than my desk job analyzing sales volume numbers. Well, if my day job won't make me happy, I'm just going to have to figure out how to be happy elsewhere.

Happy Singles Day!

I'm still in shock that it's already halfway through February. Time flies, even when you're not having fun. Aside from the lack of adventure at work, I have finally broken my streak of "in-nights" watching TV. A group of my good friends from USA Pavilion got together to celebrate a friend's birthday. After a massive meal at Charmant, a Taiwanese eatery - inclusive of shaved ice - we headed to Prive, for a night of epic-ness.

Stephanie and I turned in early as the rest of the crew went to sing their hearts out at PartyWorld (a crazy after-hour KTV joint). Besides, I had a brunch bright and early the next morning with the Shanghai Dolls! For the past couple months, I have missed having lady friends. (Thank goodness Stephanie and Ashley returned from the States, and Rachel and Selina are on their way as well). Because of this need of estrogen in my life, through Googling I came across a women's expat community suitably named the Shanghai Dolls. Aside from meetups of yoga, fitness camps, brunches and book clubs, the Dolls have partnerships with local spas, fitness centers, and shops for massive discounts! I am currently pending approval for a membership card :)

After brunch with the ladies, I felt re-inspired and the meet-up reignited my passion for living in Shanghai. I'm still looking to escape my treacherous job, which has proved to be excruciatingly dull these past weeks. Thankfully, one of the Dolls sensed my eagerness to move onto bigger and better things and connected me with 3 different PR contacts in Shanghai! Yay.

And, for those who see my Facebook statuses constantly, yes, I have been interviewing with Google for a position in California, but after my interviews, I'm not so sure I will be heading back. Haha.

Only time will tell. I'll keep you posted.

Happy Singles Day for all my single ladies! 

- C

1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back

Going to keep this one short.

Yeah, I was destined to fail this diet. Haha. Telling myself "no" to foods, well...it really makes me want to eat them. I think I did worse this week than a week of my normal eating. Anyhow, I did attempt to cook my own food, and half of it wasn't so bad, but the nights that I made a disgusting dinner ended up with delivery... However, I did find some healthy and somewhat cheap delivery options! Urban Soup Kitchen!

Back to work tomorrow... I'll keep you posted.

Oh. And I hate fireworks now.