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  • Throughout my study abroad trip, I met a variety of different people. One of the traits I was able to develop in Shanghai was my ability to network. I widened my scope, and was able to meet people from different nations and backgrounds being involved in either university or business in China. To measure the influence these people had on me would take into account the late nights discussing international politics, the economic trends in relation to China and the rest of the world, and how we fit into that.
    It was one night that I truly felt the culmination of my network in Shanghai. It was one of my last nights in Shanghai, as I was preparing to go home. I got together just a few close friends I had made through the year for dinner. It was coming back to the dorms when more and more people started showing up. Before I knew it, most of the people I had brought into my circle were together in a room, some of them meeting for the first time. From a few Spanish friends studying their masters at our university to a couple of Chinese friends that were studying law at another university and everything in between, all these people were here to just enjoy company and good conversation. We talked about our travels around China and parts of Asia, as I had gone on many trips with some of them. Others were explaining excitedly their plans for the future: one was planning on franchising a gym in Shanghai, another was proposing a business which helps foreigners who want to open restaurants in China. We carried on through the night with conversation and food, before some decided to retire home while others took it upon themselves to carry on the party by going out.
    We had all come to Shanghai for our own reasons and goals, but despite that we found a place to connect with people we may never have met if we stayed in our home countries. Some of my friends had no idea or expectations coming into Shanghai — for me, I was just looking forward to observing the scene and how I would fit into the economic boom that is present in China. But by the end of the year, through the suggestion and experience of colleagues and friends, we all had a clearer view of our own business plans or personal views on China and the world. The sharing of cultural and geographical backgrounds is what made my year, and that night was a show of that.
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