NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Studying Abroad: Shanghai in perspective


Shanghai is an unusual place. It’s Chinese, but not entirely; its hybrid of Eastern and Western business and social traditions is found nowhere else in mainland China.

Living at NJIT, being only 10 miles from New York City, I always thought that I lived near the most modern, sophisticated city in the world—or even at its center. Shanghai can come as a rude surprise. In spite of its nominally communist system, it is the most unfettered, money and status-mad, materialistic place on Earth. Its skyline alone is confirmation that money talks loudest. In no other city could you build the world’s largest, tallest curved skyscraper—and stick it right up into the clouds like a giant middle finger to the world.

China is experiencing an explosive period of change and growth, with Shanghai being the single major engine driving its economic expansion. Quite simply, Shanghai is a Pacific Rim prodigy that rivals, and may soon surpass Tokyo. The Chinese government has set a target date of 2020 for Shanghai to overtake Hong Kong as Asia’s largest financial hub.

The city is increasingly becoming an international hub. Since the 2010 World Expo, all road, rail, metro, and official signs show both Chinese characters and English lettering.

With all of the money being poured into Shanghai, along come the international large-scale events. While Beijing tends to host more political based events, Shanghai is more on the entertainment side, which tends to be the fun and glamorous events that gain international attention. The city hosts world-class music festivals, tennis championships, and NBA games annually.

Still think the Chinese government isn’t investing enough in Shanghai? The city is currently building a Disneyland – a 5.5 billion dollar investment. Set to open toward the end of 2015, Shanghai Disneyland will be the 6th Disneyland in the world.

The city is made up of a diverse mix of people. Shanghai residents are admired by other Chinese for their competence and envied for their material success. On the other hand, they can also be stingy, petty, unfriendly and demanding. So actually, in many ways, the Shanghainese remind me very much of New Yorkers.

It’s easy to overlook, but the average person was not allowed to leave China prior to the 80’s. China, including Shanghai, remains comparably sheltered from the outside world. Millions of people are suddenly gaining exposure to other cultures and are joining the middle class. That’s millions and millions of people who want and will soon demand the cars, TV screens, apartments, gasoline, and access to information and mobility that most of us in U.S. take for granted.

Shanghai is a thriving, noisy city, overflowing with humanity-and, above all, it is a modern, vibrant, and compelling place.

And I believe that the world as a whole, largely because of what’s happening in China, is going to be a very different looking place.*

Feel free to reach out: [email protected]

By Kareem Fayek


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