First Day of Work

Today I finally started my new job in Shanghai, after over a month of vacation. I’m pretty sure that until today I haven’t gotten up at a time of day that could be considered “early” since I’ve moved here. As a result, I saw a new side of Shanghai on my walk to work.

I hit the street at 8am. The city was bustling. What struck me first was the sheer quantity of hot, hot women on Nanjing Xi Road on their way to work. Yes, it’s conclusive: women with actual jobs are way sexier than those women of leisure you see around town at hours that could only be kept by someone without a respectable job. So it looks like I now get classy eye candy on my daily walk to work.

I realized also on my way to work that I can walk through Jing An Park as a shortcut. What a great shortcut! I saw lots of old people doing morning exercises. I saw old people doing dance routines to music. I saw old people doing tai chi. I saw old people practicing with swords. I saw more hot women. But mostly I just saw lots of old people. I like how active a role the Chinese elderly seem to take in trying to keep themselves fit. They don’t look any healthier or more flexible, but they do seem to live pretty long.

I arrived at work at 8:20am, ten minutes early. Just enough time for breakfast at the restaurant next door. I paid 5rmb for 5 jian jiao (fried dumplings). That’s 5 times what I used to pay outside the gate of ZUCC. They were good, though.

Then I started work. A lot of people have asked me what, exactly, my new job is, and I haven’t been extremely forthcoming with the information. I wasn’t trying to be coy; the truth of the matter was I didn’t know the exact details myself. I still don’t. But I like what I know so far.

The company is called Melody (双美 in Chinese). It’s a Taiwanese company which creates and markets English educational materials (textbooks, tapes, CDs, VCDs, etc.) for young children. My job is a sort of trainer/consultant. I help them with the development of the materials, providing a native speaker perspective. I also train Melody’s teachers, and will go on business trips to cities all over China to hold training seminars for the teachers of other schools which buy Melody’s products.

Today, since my immediate supervisor has still not returned from vacation, I was left pretty much to just start familiarizing myself with Melody’s texts and VCDs. Holy crap. They make good stuff, but when you’re watching English language song videos for 6-year-olds all morning long, it’s pretty brain-numbing.

My co-workers all seem pretty cool. They’re nearly all female. They talk to me almost exclusively in Chinese. So it’s a good working environment.

One thing I’m not used to is the “culture shock” of talking to the Taiwanese. They say things like, “I’m originally from Taiwan, but I’ve been living in China for years.” Excuse me?? From Taiwan, moved to China. That talk seems totally cool, though. All the mainlanders are used to it and think nothing of it.

So I put in a full day of work today, and now I have to do that again for the next four days. Wow, this is way different from teaching at ZUCC. This is actually approaching the real world.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Anonymous Says: February 2, 2004 at 9:34 pm

    The book I’m using at Mary English School is also from Melody,I’ve seen some girls who gave us trainning,they are so hot but also made me feel so stupid cause they had us to do all weird,stupid things.

  2. oh I’m ellen 😛

  3. Yeah, some singing/dancing teaching methods are kind of weird for adults to execute, but they’re suited to the subject.

    Remember the children.

    They’re pretty linguistically sound, trying to bring as many senses into the learning experience as possible while keeping the kids’ attention.

  4. Your new job sound cool, and you work in a Taiwanese company. Then certainly, you will find culture totally different. There are many Taiwanese living in Shanghai around 400,000. Most of them owe business and property in Shanghai. They do make good money in China, that’s why they leave Taiwan. For those their ancestors are from Shanghai or north of China, they usually love China more than Taiwan too. Many always think that Taiwanese don’t like China much, but really very minority of people do. Most of them like China because they can make good money and also have good living environment compared with Taiwan. I am a outsider living in Taiwan, I just look at them in the third person perception.

    Enjoy your job!!


  5. Da Xiangchang Says: February 3, 2004 at 10:11 am


    Good luck with your new job. Yes, working 40+ hours a week is tough at the beginning, but you’d get used to it. 😉

    Your comments about your early-morning walk to work were interesting. I live in LA now, and one of the things I missed living abroad was walking or taking public transportation to work. While the car is convenient and comfortable, it is also an incredibly alienating machine. You turn on the radio, and you might as well be on Neptune, you’re so isolated from other people. Shoving and pushing in the Shanghai subway seems a much more human way of going places.

    Another thing I miss is the crowds of pedestrians abroad. In America (well, in southern California at least), NOBODY walks anywhere, and at night, the sidewalks are completely empty. Of course, this might be due to the fact that America’s not overpopulated like China, but that’s not always true. Eastern Europe also has crowds of pedestrians, and again, I think it so much more . . . I guess, HUMAN.

    Maybe I need to move to New York . . .

  6. This new job of yours sounds dope; hope you’ll enjoy yourself in it!

    What is tai chi you mentioned?

    Those fried dumplings are really expensive, btw.

  7. I have to admit, you’re job sounds pretty great. Hope it matches your expectations out of the gate.

    It’s funny how we foreigners get used to the attitudes and expectations of the people around us. I live on Taiwan and it seems perfectly normal to me when people say they are ‘from’ here. And that makes sense, right? I mean, I’m a white American, and I say I’m from America. I don’t say I’m from England, even though my family has been in the U.S. for perhaps only a couple hundred years. Granted, Taiwan isn’t the U.S.

    My impression of Taiwanese attitudes toward moving/living in China is that it really depends on their situation. Often the Taiwanese company just puts them up in a dorm and they have strict rules about dating and curfue etc. Then there are those who just go ahead basically have another family there. Probably depends on the industry and length of time the company’s been there as well as a host of other factors.

  8. John,

    Job sounds good. Hot women will always be something to talk about. Taiwan and China are totally different like China and Hong Kong. With a mother who is from Taiwan, I can tell you that your co-workers are pretty much like all Taiwanese.

    Like the Taiwanese students at Santa Cruz who petitioned to have all Taiwanese skip the “Chinese” box and mark “Other: Taiwanese”. There’s an unknown need to emphasize that.

    Wayne is in NorCal and Cindy is in SoCal. China Represent! So Wayne, a group of friends and myself ate some true Mexican food tonight. The others had Polla Asado Super Burrito’s, but I opted for a couple of flour Quesedilla’s with rice, tomatoes, salsa verde, jalapeno’s, sour cream, guacamole. Wayne thought it was delicious. Just imagine if someone really smart and ambitious opened up a Mexican restaurant in downtown Shanghai. It wouldn’t need to be that big and the Chinese could easily be trained to make monster burrito’s. All the ingredients are there.

    In terms of the work week, welcome to the real world 🙂

  9. Stop it Wilson, you are making me drool. John, sounds like your job is going to be excellent and that your number one requirement, speaking a buttload of Chinese, will be met. Yay!

  10. John,

    Everyone talks to you in Mandarin? You don’t know how lucky you are.


  11. Ranbow,

    “Tai chi” is 太极.

  12. My point about Taiwan is that since the official stance is that Taiwan is a part of China, how can you say that you came from Taiwan to China? It’s like saying that I went from Florida to the USA.

    Obviously, the Taiwanese don’t see it that way, but I wouldn’t expect them to say that kind of thing out loud here on the mainland. But my co-workers do.

  13. Adam,

    Yes, I do know how lucky I am! I worked hard to find a job like this. There are more Chinese that speak good English in Shanghai than Tianjin, I’m sure.

    Anyway, I’m definitely enjoying being exposed to Mandarin and Shanghainese all day long.

  14. Wilson,

    I have been saying the same thing ever since I got to China. I went to this restaurant while I have been visiting Nanjing called Tacos, a chain maybe? Anyway, the food was decent, but overpriced. It wasn’t real Mexican food plus there was no Dos Equis.

    Get my E-mail? I think I sent it to your old address. See you soon.

  15. Did anyone notice the slang usage by Rainbow? Isn’t she an ex-ZUCC Weblog member? She used “dope” and “btw” – somebody’s been learning their slang well.

  16. Good luck with the new job!

  17. Wilson, that’s because we now teach the kids at ZUCC to be “hip” and “cool”. Good to see it’s starting to pay off.

  18. Prince Roy at-large Says: February 4, 2004 at 11:43 pm


    did they say they came to the Mainland (Dalu) from Taiwan, or did they actually say Zhongguo? If the former, I can understand it.

  19. Roy,

    The person actually said zhongguo (“China”).

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