A Sort-of Open Letter to my Friends in Shanghai

2017/10/11 9:17:17

A Sort-of Open Letter to my Friends in Shanghai

I know you have got used to my absence, but I have you on my mind very often. From Persis’s long journey from one end of the vast land of Siberia to the other, to Greta’s fantastic pictures of Italy, to the memories of good times I have spent with Assad, Hugo, Gabriel, Jeonghyun, Milena, the best German exchange students, and so many more of you; I think of you a lot. I have been waiting for long to meet you again, but you are reading this because we have to postpone this for a while. China really is the land of opportunities, and in fact, those opportunities keep me away a little longer from seeing you.

As most of you know very well I have had the amazing opportunity to spend an exchange semester at the University of Southern California (USC), in Los Angeles. It was a great time of my life with a good balance between work, social life, and restful fun rich in discoveries. You may have already encountered a brief interview with me on this platform about my experiences at USC—let me just reiterate that it was highly formative. I believe I managed to choose courses that were central to my interests having the real potential to open new horizons. From theoretical microeconomics to more real-life approaches to public policy, to the absolutely practical lessons in negotiation, I learned a lotthanks to my wonderful lecturers and mentors. I believe I have also made a good progress professionally by researching the post-Trans-Pacific Partnership status quo in the Asia-Pacific, and perfecting my theoretical approach to international relations and “all things social”. However, as I have mentioned, my time at USC was not only about studying, but exploring the city as well. And the second-largest city in the US has a lot to offer. The only bad thing about it is getting around: you pretty much need a car for everything because that being the US, public services are… well, disappointing. LA ain’t Shanghai where you can take the metro just about anywhere. And if you’ve got a car, be very patient because traffic can be terrible. Palm trees and the beautiful weather make up for a lot, though.

I am also happy to say that I have made great new friends while meeting old ones—all over the US. This means many good days of travelling in wonderful company. My “secret” to realise this was constantly keeping an eye out for opportunities. If you’ve come this far in my text, this is what I want you to remember: always look for opportunities, and keep trying. During my exchange, I have found that opportunity in Washington DC, at the Hungary Initiatives Foundation. At first glance, I thought it had been just the usual “conference” organised in a Hungarian manner—that is, little content, a lot of alcohol. (I like to be brutally honest to my compatriots, this is tough love.) At least, I thought, I could travel and see the east coast: the event was fully covered, except for the travel costs. Surprisingly, the “Young Hungarian Leaders’ Program” was one of the highlights of my time in America. Very well-organised with highly engaging lectures and lecturers, a tightly scheduled programme with fellow Hungarians studying in the US in the heart of the capital, Washington DC. I truly enjoyed the program, I learned a lot more about the political system of the United States, took trips in the capitol and the first president, George Washington’s family estate at Mount Vernon, Virginia learning about his leadership style and qualities. Moreover, while on the east coast, I could also see family and friends in Philadelphia and New York City. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip.

What’s more, the programme’s organisers were kind enough to advise us on a range of new opportunities. That was the first time when I heard about the Hungarian-American Coalition which regularly runs a scholarship programme designed to attract talented Hungarians and Hungarian-Americans committed to public service to do internships at institutions based in the US capital. I thought to myself, “well, why not try?”.

Coming back home, to rural Hungary, after so many new experiences I took a couple of days off to wind down, and look for ways ahead. I came to the conclusion that I would apply for every international professional opportunity that comes my way for the summer being. I had not plannedanything for this season as I knew I would need a little peace of mind after an incredibly eventful year, spending quality time with my family, meeting friends in my hometown and the capital Budapest. I also figured that even if I fail to secure a job or internship somewhere, I would still have a lot if time to look for opportunities in Shanghai once I get back there for the autumn semester, and also more help thanks to you and the generous kindness of Jingjing. Thus, starting with the Hungarian-American Coalition’s internship, I applied for a lot of different positions that would slightly resemble to my interests basically anywhere from the US to Germany. Even if I knew I don’t have a reasonable chance to get selected even for an interview. What could I possibly lose?As I am sitting here, in my hometown Kecskemét’spublic library typing these lines 6 September 2017, I can tell you it is not an ingenious idea, but a fairly effective one. You only need to get one opportunity out of however much; you can consider that a 100% success—for nobody ever in their right mindwould ever ask you about your unanswered applications, your CV will only contain your successes.

My 100% this time is getting selected for the Hungarian-American Coalition’s Coalition Internship Program. This will allow me by supporting living coststo pursue an unpaid internship (I know what you mean about that, and I agree, we are in the same boat, the same shoes)at a small, but impressive think tank concerning issues of Eurasian energy security and geopolitics in Washington DC. I believe it is the perfect opportunity to acquire much needed professional experience and conduct research regarding my thesis under the supervision of Professor Zhang who was our lecturer for the course “Energy, Climate Change and Sustainable Development in China”. It is a wonderful match, and I couldn’t be more excited to return to DC, work and study at my field of interest, take a humble part in the public policy discussion in the capital of the US, meet new inspiring people, and hopefully even old friends.

The backside of it is that however much I wanted to return to meet you over fantastic Chinese dinners I had been longing for too long, that has to wait.I am sure you have great many fantastic times, achievements, and successes behind you. Unfortunately, reunionwill not come until the end of January when my internship expires. But I am very excited and keen on finishing my thesis on time, so I can promise, we’ll see each other soon.Thank you for the wonderful times in China, and especially thank you for Jingjing for readily supporting my endeavours from far away. I’ll be trying to represent the great community of SJTU as well as I can.

Until then, follow me on social media, shoot me a text, or visit me if you can. I do look forward hearing from you! I wish you the very best of luck with your thesis, may your next semester be full of opportunities, successes—100%!

—— Máté MÁTYÁS  (Y2016 Student)