In the last twelve years, I've been living in a beautiful city called Shanghai. Moving to China in 2006 when I was still very young became a pivotal moment in my life. I was born in the US and lived there for a few years, so suddenly going to a new place (for who knows how long) was frightening.

As time went on, I grew older along with my city. I got a few more inches, the city got a few more skyscrapers (and huge malls). Though I experienced my share of lows in this place - from bullying to almost giving up - I also felt like my time here was for the better. I gained a lot from living in Shanghai, and as I go forth into the adult world I feel as ready as I'll ever be.

On this last night, I'm going to share some of my favorite parts about Shanghai.

Shanghai from the top of the world

newstravel.com

The view from the second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower, is unmatched. Shanghai is one of the most populous cities on this planet, and is widely known as an international metropolis of finance, culture, and entertainment (lookin at you, Disney). Formerly divided into different concessions controlled by powerful Western countries: the US, France, and Britain, Shanghai experienced a rapid re-development in the 90s. Foreign business thrived, and the economy now is booming. Standing on the 120th floor, seeing the vast city beneath you, fills you with awe. The rainbow-colored neon lights, the bright yellow of the Bund, the red of the cars in traffic jams, everything is so surreal.

Meeting people from opposite sides of the globe

A selection of the schools that attended CISSMUN VI 2014, with a map of the world including pins where people were from

Closing ceremony video of the 6th annual CISSMUN conference (https://www.cissmun.org/)

Having the chance to meet students from all over the world at Model United Nations conferences as well as sporting competitions.

Every few months, a gathering brings together teenagers interested in international affairs, diplomacy, and politics, who come from international schools. I've befriended kids from schools in the United Arab Emirates all the way to Fiji. Participating in MUN allowed me to strengthen my public speaking, work well with others, serve as a leader, and develop a global worldview. Similarly, the varsity sport events also bring together students from different countries, like Japan and the Philippines. We compete against one another, but we really unite as the international school community. As a result of these experiences, I tend to be more tolerant of others' opinions, and open to a wider variety of people.

The AMAZING food & beverage scene...what can I say?

Flat-lay at Shanghai favorite Highline (http://www.smartshanghai.com/venue/13870/highline), a must for anyone who loves aesthetic brunches

My younger sister, Hannah

An extensive list of cuisines, cute cafés, gourmet restaurants, luxury hotels, chain convenience stores, and street food has definitely made my palate pickier. In Shanghai, I'm able to have food ranging from Italian, French, Japanese, Taiwanese, Cantonese (gotta love dim-sum), Thai, Indian, American, to Shanghainese and beyond. Here, the tastes of the world are at your fingertips and there are quite literally too many options to choose from. I'm never gonna forget the tasty 煎饼 or the very expensive Joël Robuchon. I'll be back for all the brunch places and delicate Prée ice cream.

My high school

The opportunity to learn at a school as mighty as Concordia. As a Lutheran Christian private school, we were isolated from the typical Chinese students. But this same quality also created a sense of community that formed the basis of my second Emory essay. Our traditions, like Olympic Week (especially the Scavenger Hunt), Phoenix Fridays, Senior Snacks, and TrIBES helped me feel like I belonged. Since I never had many good friends, I strongly appreciated the support network that exists there, from the kind students, to the patient teachers, and the supportive counselors. Never did I doubt that I would have to go the road alone. Thank you for 9 years, Conco!

#PhoenixForLife

Live music and Broadway, can't get any better than that!

Group photo at the May 2nd, 2018 concert for the Mania Tour (featuring Pete Wentz, Patrick Stump, Andy Hurley, Joe Trohman)

@falloutboy on twitter

Aside from all the more serious aspects of my reflection tonight, another highlight of Shanghai is the ability to attend concerts and watch Broadway shows of an international caliber. Musical artists such as Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Avril Lavigne, Maroon 5, OneRepublic, Imagine Dragons, Ariana Grande, John Legend, Jessie J, Sam Smith, Mariah Carey, Why Don't We, Dua Lipa, Mike Shinoda, James Blunt, Oh Wonder, gnash, and Fall Out Boy have all graced/will grace the stages of Shanghai's many venues. Broadway productions like Kinky Boots, Cats, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, Chicago, and more have also had countless curtain calls.

Ogilvy, which is now my dream job

Having the chance to intern for what has now become my dream company. Earlier this summer, I had the amazing opportunity to work for 2 weeks at Ogilvy, one of the best ad agencies. I went in expecting minimal assignments and an average experience, but I left with a new thought in my mind: How can I land myself a coveted position here in another 4 years? I thoroughly enjoyed the collaborative spirit of my coworkers, the passion my supervisors exuded, and the interesting projects I worked on. Of course, the idea of selling my favorite brands is tantalizing as well.

Through all the toil and trouble, the failures and successes, I've become the cultured young woman writing at Odyssey today. I've transformed from the once shy girl with little self-confidence to the slightly more confident and outgoing woman that I see in myself.