Written By : Rafa Infante 
Instagram : @ rafaelo_infante
Staggered mountains traded for the tallest skyscrapers. Forest trails substituted for pristine paved roads. High alpine trees formed into beautiful Cherry Blossoms. The quant mountain vibes in exchange for one of China’s most prestigious cities: Shanghai. 

A “change” might be an understatement, but for 5 1/2 months I discovered the hidden gems of Shanghai and “paved” the way for my future. Learning, collaborating, inspiring and exploring some of the coolest corridors of city while being able to intern for one of the best consulting firms in the city. 
People on Scooters in busy traffic
I took to the streets to document my experience. With my handy dandy means of transportation, the bicycle, I peddled my way through the city. Looking up into the cloudy sky and just barely being able to see the top of the buildings as I leaned off my seat. Finding consistence in an environment that constantly changes was a challenge. The city changed every day. With new stores, people, opportunity, the fast-paced city is constantly alive and adapting. Despite the hectic environment, I found two things very surprising. Shanghai was one of the quietest and cleanest cities I have yet to explore. With a city this size I expected trash and dirt to cake the street and a stench of pollution to swarm your senses. You would think that sounds of people screaming, and honking would eco through every alley, and street but instead, it was quite the opposite. With 80% of public transportation being electric and almost everyone riding electric scooters, the streets were humming rather than roaring with gas powered vehicles. Instead of having dirty, stained streets, they were perfectly paved and sparkled under the city street lights. 
Guy in orange shirt rock climbing indoors at a gym

 

At no means were we able to see it all or find everything we wanted, but what we did find was: food, rock climbing, and museums. Seriously………. LOTS OF MUESUEMS! Art culture in China is exquisite. Art is painted, drawn, sprayed, and clicked (photography) on varieties of canvases. In a space that is so monitored, so controlled, the people want to tell their story and express themselves. Many have found that through the medium of art, their voice will be heard. Especially in a time when there is so many political issues and disputes, art could not be more powerful.

 

Picture of a boat on a Lake at Dusk

 

Living in a city can get overwhelming, I needed a getaway. Specifically, I needed to reconnect and find a space that was a little greener, and little more natural. With an amazing crew of friends that I met along the way, we adventure to a little town called, 1000 Island or Qiandao Lake. As we adventured, we found just what we were looking for: a little spot where we could meditate, drink mate, and enjoy the quite space. It was a change of pace, and a 3-day period of pure bliss. A period that drove me to a realization that I will keep with me forever. Changing my surroundings from mountain living to a huge city caused a lot of things to happen mentally, and physically.

 

Picture of a person sitting inside the boat

 

Some people will wait for the time to pass and keep to themselves; others will take advantage of the change and see what they can learn for the new experience. Whether about the culture, your personality, or your passions, it’s a time to do some soul searching. I was there to learn; I was there to find myself as a student moving into a professional career. I wanted to see if I could adapt to an environment that didn’t necessarily have what I needed: nature, the outdoors, biking. Through this experience I was able to further instill the values that I live by and learned why I needed the outdoors. They are my outlet. They keep me sane and give me the opportunity to explore, think and reflect.