Bye, Shanghai! Here Are 6 Reasons Why I Love It

Bye, Shanghai! Here Are 6 Reasons Why I Love It

On the eve before I fly out to begin a new adventure, I think about Shanghai and 6 reasons I love it

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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

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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.

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What Losing Someone To Suicide Really Feels Like.

In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

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A word that describes what it feels like to lose someone to suicide? That doesn't exist. It's actually a whole jumbled up pool of emotions. Almost unbearable comes to mind, but that still doesn't quite cover it. You never think it'll happen to someone you know, much less a family member.

Let me start off by telling you about my experience. I was up late one night studying for a big nursing test I had the next morning. My phone started ringing, and I automatically assumed it was my boyfriend who knew I would still be up at midnight. It wasn't, though. It was my mother, who usually goes to bed before 10 every night. I knew something bad had happened.

"Mama, what's wrong?" I could hear her crying already. "Baby, Andrew shot himself," my mother then told me. I flooded her with questions. Where? Is he okay? Why was he playing around with a gun this late? What happened? She then said, "No, baby, he killed himself."

Disbelief

Disbelief was my first reaction. No, that couldn't be true. Not my Andrew. Not my 17-year-old, crazy, silly, cousin Andrew. Not the kid who eats sour Skittles while we walk through Walmart and then throws away the pack before we get to the register. Not the kid who, while we all lay in the floor in Grandma's living room, is constantly cracking jokes and telling us stories about how he's a real ladies' man. This can't be real. I'm gonna go home and it is all just gonna be a mix-up.

Confusion

It wasn't, though. I sat in the home of my grandparents, with the rest of my family, confused. We tried to go over what could have caused him to do it. Was it a girl? Did we do something wrong? He acted normal. Nothing seemed off, but I guess nobody will ever truly know.

Anger

For a minute there I was mad. How could he do this? Did he not know what this would do to everyone? So many people loved him. I just couldn't understand, but I wasn't Andrew. How could I understand?

Regret

Regret was my next feeling. Why didn't I do more? What could I have done? How did I not notice he was hurting so bad? There wasn't anyone who knew, though. For the longest time, I told myself that I should have texted him more or just made sure he knew I loved him. In the end, I always realize that there wasn't anything I could have done and that he knew I loved him.

Pain

The funeral was almost insufferable. A church filled with people who loved Andrew. People that would never get to see him or hear his laugh again. The casket was closed and the whole time all I could think about was how I just wanted to hold his hand one last time. My brother, who spent almost every weekend with Andrew since they were little, didn't even want to go inside. They were only a year and a half apart. At one point he just fell to the ground in tears. This kind of pain is the heart-breaking kind. The pain of picking a 15-year-old off the ground when he hurts so bad he can't even go on anymore.


Heartache

This led to heartache. I thought so much about how his life was way too short. He would never get to graduate high school or go to college. He would never get his first grown-up job. He'd never get married or have children. Dwelling on these thoughts did some major damage to my heart. We missed him. We wanted him back, but we could never go back to how things were.

Numbness

For a while after, I could honestly say I was numb. It had hurt so much I think my body shut down for a little while. That disbelief would pop up again and I would forget it was real. I'd try to block out the reminders but that doesn't really work. Every time I see sour Skittles I think about him, or wear this certain pair of earrings he'd always try to get me to give him.

Longing

This past week marked a whole year since he passed away. What am I feeling now? Still all of these things plus a little more. Longing is a good word. I miss him every day and wish so much that he was still here with us. I'll see little reminders of him and smile or laugh. We had so many good memories, and I could never forget those or him. That's what I cling to now. That was my Andrew.


In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

"If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever."


If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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What It Is Really Like Having Sisters Close To Your Age

While having siblings close to your age is pretty amazing, there can be a lot of issues that can come with it.

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I come from a family of 5 people and 1 dog. I have 2 sisters, Grace and Caroline. We are all pretty close in age, Caroline being the youngest and 3 years younger than me.

My sisters and I share a bond like no one else, no one can replicate it. When you have siblings close to your age you have built-in best friends, and since they are around your age you have the same interest, or at least, enough so that you can do things that other siblings cannot. Examples of this would be seeing R-Rated movies and going to the mall without too much complaining, along with being able to shop in the same stores or even share clothes. Grace and I sometimes even split the cost of a shirt we both like.

We even overlap friend groups! Which is not much of a problem for us, Grace and I are both in music programs which overlap enough for us to have the same friends, which is great for when one of us has a sleepover, the other can join in on the fun. Caroline, however, even though she is seen as the sporty one of the 3 of us, she still has a lot of friends who have similar interests as Grace or I, giving us a lot of the same friends. It's nice not to be considered the "cool older sister", I am just like the rest of them.

While we do fight a lot, we make up really quickly, because most issues we have are stupid sibling fights: who gets the T.V., what to have for dinner, what movie to see. But it is always fun because there are 3 of us, which means majority rules, something we tend to go by most of the time depending on the situation.

Having 3 teenagers in the house can be a handful for our parents though, when you have three teenage girls going through puberty at relatively the same time, it can be grueling, especially when you are all on your period at the same time.. (yes, that has happened before) (and yes, it sucks). While I am on the topic, let's say a prayer and a thank you to my dad for dealing with 5 girls (including the dog, obviously) because he does a pretty damn good job at dealing with all of us.

When we were younger, we always had a play date even when one was canceled. We all made up songs and dances and would perform them for our parents. We even had a band called The Halsey Sisters (AKA the female version of The Jonas Brothers) where we had a hit song called "We Got The Heart and Soul". It was a hell of a time. Let's just say the music video for that song is, interesting to say the least.

At the end of the day, I wouldn't switch my sisters for anything in the world, they are my rocks, and I wouldn't want it any other way, Grace, Caroline, keep doing what you're doing, because you're pretty damn awesome.

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