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Shanghai : 5 Months After – A Personal Growth

When I first landed in China, for the first time in my life in Asia, I was curious about everything before even being scared to be on my own this far from home. Even though I traveled a lot in my whole life, this has been the most challenging experience in my life. And for some reasons the most beautiful thing I have ever done. It was a personal growth that I never could have thought of.

Pearl Tower Unfinished
Pearl Tower Unfinished

I went many times West (Los Angeles, San Diego or even Mexico) but never East.

Why you would ask ? Simply because I have never been attracted by it. And I never could say or explain why I was not attracted by it.

It has been beautiful thanks to things you never thought you would discover. Being this far from your basis and daily life, you reconsider everything : what is really important to you and what you truly want from life.

Personally I have never been farthest East in my life than Marseille, in France.

Even though I did all the paperwork, I first realized that I was going to China when the plane took off. I was like « Alright, I guess I am going to China then ! ». I flew with a particular feeling of not being anxious at all, maybe because that’s how I am, I deal with things once I cannot bypass them. That sounds like a suicidal thing. Fly out there without even being able to speak a single word of Chinese and don’t know where I’ll step foot.  But let’s try ! Who knows what’s there for me ?

As I landed, after 12 hours of flight, I was hungry, I arrived in downtown Shanghai, I let my eyes scan what was around. Needless to say that I only saw Chinese characters that I couldn’t understand. The only thing that I did recognize was the world famous M of Mc Donald’s. I was relieved, finally something I know. That was before I had to pay, three choices were proposed to me : credit card, AliPay and Face Recognition. I let you picture my crazy European face when I read this. I was the only one surprised by it. Some guy took out his phone and waved it to me, like « What are you waiting for ? Are you retarded or what ? »

My first thoughts were : “Why am I here ? What have you done Mathieu ? I am such a pro at putting me into troubles ! Why am I like this ?! I just want my BigMac, how can it be that hard ?!”

That was my first experience with the Digital Revolution. A huge leap ahead. I thought this was a movie, or even a 10 years ahead livid dream. I went to sleep and only when I woke up, the next morning, I understood that, yes, I am in China for 8 months. So let’s go outside and face your fears young boy ! I took a walk and observed everything and everyone around me. SO MANY SCREENS !

People from 7 to 77 years old, they are all on their smartphones. Scrolling on an application that I only knew the name, WeChat. I a blink of an eye I understood why this guy at the McDonald’s looked at me like a was a fool. China is digitalized on so many levels. I am really into technology and what can be done on mobile but I am not using it 24/7. So as I was stepping out of my confort zone by going to China I thought, why not change your habit and try the lifestyle they, Chinese people, have.


Queuing In China
Queuing In China : Never Loose Your Phone

Hence, I took out my phone and went on WeChat, like they do. I sent a text to one of my friend back home, he went to Shanghai a year before, as an exchange student. He told me to reach to this guy at the YOGA Agency if I want to rent an apartment. I sent that text describing what I was looking for, he instantly replied to me, one hour later I was visiting places, three hours later that first visit, I was in the apartment with my luggages. 

Yoga Agency Website and add on WeChat Yoan who goes by the username : yoyo060890 

This is the fastest way to find a place that suits your needs in Shanghai. They are reliable and bilingual. An added value is that Yoan speaks French.

That sounds crazy in Europe, but yes, I found a place to stay for 8 months in less than a day.

This crazy speed of doing things became really common. Everything is done by QR Code and by WeChat. You add friends on this app and even pay with this app, which is linked to your bank Chinese bank account. I was more than happy to go to McDonald’s and pay with my phone. I was SO proud, first huge achievement in China, act like a Chinese.

This made me want to discover more because you achieve things so fast that you want to keep doing things this fast.

Even though I understood way less than half of things, let’s be real, nothing because it’s written in Chinese, I still wanted to experience things with my phone. It never left my hand for 8 months. I always had battery, something that was really optional for me in Paris. I even bought an external battery to keep using it when I forgot to charge it at home or at school. Because if you don’t have battery you can’t pay. Not having battery in China is like forgetting your wallet at home, you can’t do anything. Also, you don’t want to be lost in Shanghai, so keep some battery young fellow. 

As time went by, I became more and more friendly with Chinese applications, thirst of knowledge I guess. I tried things that I didn’t even try in 20 years in Paris. For exemple I never used a Velib’ in Paris but I used a HelloBike almost everyday. This is because of the digitalization of every product.

Everything became fast and simple. I managed to create an account even though it was written in Chinese. You scan the QR Code that it’s on the bike and as it is linked to your AliPay account, which has all your informations, you unlock the bike. Renting a bike was something that I never did when it was written in French. With one AliPay account you can unlock 7 different types of bike, just with your phone. Imagine doing with those things in Paris that are called electronic scooters.

How to unlock 7 different types of bikes in China

Fast forward to 6 months later. I had more than 100 contacts in my WeChat and stainless steel thighs.

It meant that I met more than 100 people that I could speak and learn with. Mainly in English though. But more than this, my phone became my wallet. I left my wallet at home for 7 months like it was a new habit. As a guy, we all do the same move while going out, tap on every pocket of our pants or our jacket. But in China, you only check the pocket that olds your keys, because your phone is already in your hand. 

When I got back home, in Paris, I felt like a stranger.

I went to the bakery and bought a baguette, a thing that I was dreaming of. I showed my QR Code at the cashier. She looked at me, like the Chinese guy at the McDonald’s back in Shanghai. Like I was a fool. I felt like I was Steve Jobs. 10 years ahead of everyone. I felt like everything was going slow. Paying became a true act of purchase, if you thought about bringing your wallet… Meaning that you have time to think twice if you really need that thing, if you are really hungry or if you really want to spend your money on this.

More than the digital aspect of things, once I got back, I realized that I did learn so many things that I could never have thought of. On the professional aspect of things, digitalization soaked me in. I was absorbed by screens, thought about everything that can be improved in Europe. And then I realized that the country of France is not ready at all for all these changes, yet.

You realize it once you try to explain it to your parents and their friends. They look at you with those wide open eyes. They want to understand how it’s possible. And this is pretty much how I look at myself when I think about everything that I have done, alone, in a foreign country where I couldn’t understand a single word. You rely on your personality. You find new things about yourself. I never thought I could overpass that much problems.

I went to the police station to find my lost phone, they didn’t understand what I was saying but kept my calm. Thing I wasn’t even capable of. Like a true Parisian I would go nuts when the car in front of me when didn’t see the red light turn green right away. I realized that I was helping lost tourists in Paris, a thing that I never did in 20 years. One thing that you don’t loose is being angry and walk fast in the metro, that’s in my blood I guess…

Going to China is the most intense thing I ever experienced.

I’ve done crazy things in my young life. But challenging myself to go somewhere I didn’t know anything about, of course I knew that it was a complete different way of life. But experience it went way beyond my beliefs. It’s not like a became a new person, just an upgraded version of myself. More aware of what is going on around me, more conscious about a big scale of an improvement in technology. And what became funny about it is picturing my grandparents using their phone to pay. I bet they would go insane. 




But most of all, as I evolved day by day and found what I truly want in life, in my deeper self, I met people that are now part of my life. We experienced things together and we grew together. We faced difficulties together. You really become a different person. You find your true strengths, not which thought you had but what you can tell you truly have. What stroked me is that I wanted to overcome my weaknesses as fast as I found an apartment. And this is the same now, I can’t stand making mistakes, I want to make things perfect. I want to correct everything that I was doing wrong before. 

This is pretty much how China works, either you evolve at this speed, either you stay in your confort zone and you will only have your eyes to cry.

This is what I learned in China about myself and about life itself.

Never take something for granted. Give everything you can. Be proud of what you have done today in order to reach for more the day after. Never go to bed without knowing what you have learned today for you to keep in mind to learn more tomorrow. 



Life in China Lifestyle Marketing Shanghai Sport

X-Games China – Shanghai

It has been 25 years since the X-Games have been created. Gathering every so-called extreme sport in the world. Athletes from Skateboard, Motocross, BMX and more are reunited to compete in their own discipline. For the first time ever, X-Games are coming to China. The chosen city is Shanghai. Competition is June 1st and 2nd.


Hit this link to buy tickets:

Prices are from 280¥ to 999¥


Luan Olivera X-Games China 2019

Along with world-class action sports competition and athletes, X Games China will feature musical performances, art installations, and festival experience. X Games China will have a distinctly Chinese flavor, showcasing the beautiful country, cities, and culture of China in everything from the course designs to the medals, and highlighting the youth and sports culture in Shanghai throughout the festival village and live coverage.

Extreme sports and music are closely related. Artists from China and around the world are coming to perform. The Japanese dancer Saori Kanda will perform in live her latest work to the crowd. Moreover, music artists, such as Vava, Ryotracks and Soft Lipa will be present for the event.

Nyjah Huston X-Games China June 2019

Considering athletes. Will be there Nyjah Huston, the child that we used to see skate with his long dreadlocks as now evolved into a strong guy per maggiori. ( Such as his skateboarding skills. He won this week the SLS in London and he is here to add a medal to his already huge collection. He already won 10 gold medals at the X-Games and he is only 25 years old!


The Brasilian esthete Luan Olivera is part of the trip. This magician his blessing us with his tricks that will for sure amaze the Chinese crowd.

Watch some more skate videos of Luan on The Berrics Site :

You can’t miss this one :

Moreover, the X-Games also is about winter. It will be back during this year and athletes from all around the world will come. So stay posted to know more about it!

“It’s a great honor to be among the first athletes invited to help announce X Games China,” said Cai Xuetong, two-time X Games snowboard medalist and the first Chinese athlete to win a medal at the X Games.


Find out more about the contests and activities on the X-Games China website :

China Sport Tourisme

Shanghai Shenhua Football Club – The People’s Club

Football in China has been growing since early 2010’s thanks to many investors in different cities. Bringing famous foreign players who are interested in a new culture, a new project but mainly thanks to the huge salary that clubs are offering.

One of those clubs is the Shanghai Shenhua. Which can be translated to “The Flower of Shanghai”. The team is now based in the Kangqiao district of Shanghai and their home stadium is the Hongkou Football Stadium which can host up to 33,000 people, which mysteriously took fire 2 years ago from now.


We need a bit of history of the club to understand what they are trying to do nowadays.

Shenhua was first called the East China Football Club back in 1910. The football league gradually expanded and the team was allowed to name themselves after their own province of Shanghai in 1957.

Shuenhua became a professional club in 1993.

In 2007, the owner of the inner-city rival of Shanghai United, Zhu Jun bought a majority share of Shanghai Shenhua and began to merge Shanghai United into Shanghai Shenhua.

Jun’s investment within the club reaches 150 million Yuan, which he thought that it would allow him to control 70 percent of the club shares’. When the other shareholders decided not to agree with this arrangement, Zhu Jun decided to pull his funding of the club. Immediately a bad atmosphere began to grow within the club and players. A feeling of not being a trustworthy institution. Hence resulted in the team finishing 9th on 16th.

Disappointing result for a club with high ambitions. Moreover, both of their new foreign recruits Anelka and Drogba leaving the club after just a single season at Shenhua.

After this problem with the investors, players began to understand that there was something wrong with money and investors. Rolando Schiavi, Patricio Toranzo and Giovanni Moreno refuse to play the 31 March 2013 league game because of unpaid wages. It caused a huge scandal in the football industry and the trust regard to the new market that was China.

Since Greenland took over the club, more and more foreign players were brought. Everyone is getting paid and the club is tremendously growing even abroad. At first Chinese football was seen as a bubble that could pop anytime. This was without the implication of the President of China Xi Jinping.


Which is related in this article:


Shanghai Shenhua Football Club is a club with high ambition and expectation from their players and fans. This club is more implemented in Shanghainese culture and minds. This is kind of the club from the people for the people. You see more often people wearing this jersey than with their rivals from the same city, Shanghai SIPG where famous Brazilian players such as Oscar and Hulk and now playing since 2 and 4 years.


Direct link to the Shenhua shop :

Shanghai Shenhua titles :

CFA champion in 1961 / 1962 / 1995

China FA Cup 1998 / 2017



Major foreign players to have played at Shenhua :

Didier Drogba / Nicolas Anelka / Freddy Guarin / Demba Ba / Carlos Tevez



Life in China Shanghai tube Tips Travel Travelling

How to move around in Shanghai ?

    Shanghaï is a worldwide metropole which counts 25 million inhabitants on a surface of 6 340 Km2. A city this huge needs an excellent commute service in order to bring all it’s citizens to work or school on time. This article shows you how to commute easily in Shanghai.


      The Shanghaï metro is really safe and cheap if you know how to use it right. It’s the largest metro in the world considering route length, totaling 676 km. On a daily basis, this metro is used by 10 million people. The working hours are particular compared to Europe or anywhere else. It starts, on average from 5.30am and closes around 10.30pm.

The Shanghaï metro is first if all really safe and more than everything is cheap if you know how to use it right. It’s the largest metro in the world considering route length, totaling 676 Km. The rush hours, as everywhere in the world are pretty busy. But in here you have to get used to being pushed and squeezed. At first, it might sound barbaric, at second you could find it amusing but as time goes by you can find it upsetting and rude. Otherwise it’s easy to commute in Shanghai if you know the right tips.

The busiest station is People’s Square, which is the very heart of the touristic Shanghaï. As in every city in the whole world, I hardly recommend to avoid it on peak hours if you are afraid of crowds.

To know how to use it right, this is how you should do.

If you are in Shanghaï for a couple weeks or days, do as every tourist. Go to the ticket machine right into the station. There are two ways of using it. Either you enter how many stations you’ll travel, either you enter the station you want to go to. The second way is the best way because it’s the cheapest. Let’s say you are traveling for 5 stations, you’ll spend 2¥ on every station traveled. With the second way, just enter the name of the station you’re going to and the price we’ll significantly be cheaper.

You can also buy a classic metro card in metro stations which costs 20¥ for deposit and then you just top up and scan it on your way in and out of the metro.

Otherwise, if you are here for more than 4 months, you’ll be able to open a Chinese bank account. And this is where it becomes really cheap and handy to commute in Shanghai.

You just have to download the proper application, Metro 大都会, link it to your bank account and you’ll just have to scan (again) a QR code in order to go through the gate. You’ll pay on average 2¥ to go in and, depending on the zone you are going to, it can be 5¥. You can go up to 25¥ to go to airports. Which is really interesting, to be honest.

Speaking of airports, there is a special train going to Pudong Airport called Maglev. It’s called a bullet train, pretty much like a high-speed train (431km/h). It goes from Longyang Road Station (line 2) to the Airport in 7 minutes instead of 40 min by regular metro. It costs 50¥ but if you’re in a hurry it’s more than useful.



  • BUS

There are up to 995 lines of buses in Shanghaï. It’s really handy when you just want to commute from point A to point B in Shanghai on a daily basis. Like I’m doing to go to school for instance. Might take you a bit more time but you can be seated, a thing that is not that common on the metro.

You just have to pay 2¥ when you go in and that’s all. Doesn’t depend on how much stops you have to do.

At first, as I did for a long time, you need to put coins in a machine when you hop in. Coins are getting rare when you have a Chinese bank account. Then you can add a special feature to your AliPay app to pay with it. Called “Transports Code”. Or on your WeChat app but you might need help from a Chinese speaking person to help you set it up. It costs the same price but is more convenient when you pay.

Buses practically go around all day every 7 minutes.

You also have some night buses that can help you go to/from People’s Square when you are out partying (I see you exchange students) if you want to save money off taxis.

  • TAXI

Getting a taxi in Shanghaï is pretty easy and the fastest way to commute in Shanghai. Getting understood to where you need to go is a whole other thing. I hardly recommend to enter the address on Google Translate, or whatever translation app that you are using, and show the address to the driver.

In every case, once you hop in, always ask for the counter meter to be on. It will start at 16¥ in a regular taxis and 21¥ on bigger taxis. Watch out for scams.

To stop them, just go on the road and raise your hand once you see two green lights on top of the car. Because two red means it’s taken, and one red means it’s reserved by someone through a call center or apps.

You have different apps that help you reserve taxis. The most common and used by foreigners is called Didi, which is pretty much the Chinese Uber. As every application that’s you have to pay through it, you need a Chinese bank account.

You have other applications but they don’t support the English language so you might struggle with it. Didi is pretty easy to use and drivers are all around town, off rush hours you can get a taxi in 3 minutes. Watch out on rainy days, the waiting list can go up the roof and you could have to wait up to an hour.

  • BIKE

Using bikes in Shanghaï can be useful. At first, traffic looks like an ‘organized mess’ as we like to say in French, but after a few minutes observing the thing, you get accommodated to it in a couple days.

Once again, you go through an app (and QR Code obviously) to unlock bikes. It can be Ofo or Mobike. I hardly recommend Mobike because of the special tires that can’t get flat. Compared to the Ofo, whom as a lot of technical problems.

To log in on those apps, you need a few procedures. The particular one is to take a picture of your face next to your passport. It would seem hard to do because it is. So snap the right angle and send it through the app. You’ll have to wait a day or two for validation. Do not hesitate to try again with a different angle that shows text and picture on your passport.

Once you did it, you are good to go bike around Shanghaï. Just don’t get into an accident. That would be a whole other problem to solve. You can also rent or buy a motorcycle. They use the same lanes as bikes. This is another way to commute easily in Shanghai, even if it’s a bit more expensive.


As you saw, there are plenty of different ways to move around Shanghaï. Of course, you can use your feet to walk around. You might have more chances to see a particular street that you like or a restaurant that you may want to enter and taste local food. This article showed you the most common ways to do so and do not hesitate to tell us some more ways that you found out in the comments section.