I am not an alcoholic, I just live in Shanghai (EN new version)

That sentence I did not invented it, I saw it once in an article on a newspaper for expats my first few days there. I first was like, yeah maybe old expats, not me, right ? 😂 It didn’t took me long to figure out that it was true, it could sound presumptuous to say that Shanghainese really love drinking, but since you can not drink water from the tap and that beers are so cheap (like 2 yuan), why not.

Reworked and English version this time â˜ș

That sentence I did not invented it, I saw it once in an article on a newspaper for expats my first few days there. I first was like, yeah maybe old expats, not me, right ? 😂 It didn’t took me long to figure out that it was true, it could sound presumptuous to say that Shanghainese really love drinking, but since you can not drink water from the tap and that beers are so cheap (like 2 yuan), why not.

Shanghai’s nightlife

First of all, Shanghai is a city made for partying, with thousands of bars, clubs, secret bars, restaurants, partying from Sundays to Sundays ( wish I could do that anymore 😜) . On my first year in Shanghai I was not yet 18, we were going to the infamous Sky club with my friends from school, it was a time where open bar with counterfeited alcohol were the norm, followed by horrible headache unless you knew what to go for and what to avoid. Second of all, let’s say life is quite boring there, you kind of do the same things again and again, possibilities are infinite but in the end yes it’s kind of always the same stuff all around, I have never seen a Shanghai home without it’s own bar in the living room, for a last drink after work.

KTV

There are club parties and KTV parties which locals LOVE. Most of the time, Karaoke places are located in office buildings, with one dedicated floor, you get there via a dedicated elevator sometimes on a dedicated entry for the office building (so that you don’t cross the path of those who work there I guess). Once you get there, a waiter is dedicated to your group, you have to book a private room given how many people you are and how much and fancy you want the room to be, for example if you want extra light systems or a themed decoration. Then you either order from a tablet or go through the KTV alcohol and food store, your waiter will follow you with a basket and will carry all your « groceries ». Then it’s time to sit down and choose the songs you will sing for next few hours, often resulting in a lot of debates 😄. Fortunately there will always be a few U2 songs, with stolen footage from MTV, often clips you had never ever seen before with this one song but it’s China after all. From your room you can also order directly more food and drinks from a tablet, you will have mics often covered with weird looking hygienic foam, I must say I am not sure if it was us singing bad or if the sound from those sound system were always terrible. One more thing, it’s not unusual to go to KTV before going to clubbing or even after. I am pretty sure most KTV places are open 24/7.

Movies

Back in the day we would only buy illegal copies of movie in DVDs. Often the last blockbusters, in fact I never could figure out if it was actually possible to buy REAL DVDs, I know it’s not the case anymore nowadays, but at the time you would buy those DVDs in shops in the street or in little markets dedicated to counterfeit goods which were everywhere in the city. Illegal copies were often with a very bad quality, sometimes a move had not aired yet in the USA we would already have it on DVD, with the bottom or the top of the screen showing a disclaimer that this copy was eyes only for producers 😆. Sometimes it would be a movie literally filmed by someone in a cinema in the USA, with the recording device sometimes moving during the movie or heads of people in the actual cinema showing during the movie. I let you imagine the quality of sound and image given the conditions of recording with small devices in 2010
 Price of those amazing DVDs was around 10 yuans (it use to be 1€) lower in bundle and this was the price for expats 😅. I had to leave them all when I left Shanghai, to avoid big issues with customs.

Rich kids privileges

It took me a while to finish my last year of high-school there, not to say those years might have appear super duper cool from outside but inside it was quite challenging. Firstly, French schools in Asia all have a 100% score at the national baccalaureate exam and they will do all they can to keep it that way. At the time I was coming from a below average high-school in Paris and it was a huge gap in academic level. Also the bac exams is happening and corrected a lot before the one taking the exam in France, with the exams being corrected by teachers from the other French International school in Asia, since they all know each other you can imagine that they are pretty indulgent with one another, just saying. Since my grades where no satisfying enough to the director of the school at the time they made me go back a year before during my graduation year, to go through another branch in order to assure my graduation the next year. When I think about it today, it was absolutely crazy and probably illegal but once again it’s China. 

French international schools are a perfect reflection of a community without social diversity. Students all have parents from the elite, all being senior executives of big companies there, or children of the local expatriate teachers. Classes are most of the time made up of 20 people, which sounds crazy coming from Paris were classes are more like 40 students. The Shanghai French School happens to be also a German school, it allowed them to have their own soccer field and 400-meter running track, a heated swimming pool and a theatre/cinema room. The facilities are on a par with the even more expensive American school nearby.

I have to say I always felt bad in this non mixed environment, I think the lack of diversity is bad for a country, a school and also a company. With diversity comes new ideas, new way of doing things and it’s overall a more enriching environment. 

Within two years in this super elite environment I was accepted in some of the best business schools and universities, but I was also deceived by this lack of new faces, it’s why I decided to go to University instead. I was accepted in McGill, in some great HK and London universities, in Science Po Paris (note that coming from an international French School at the time you had extra advantages to be accepted to this school, in fact it was only based on your grades and an oral exam whereas in France you would first have to go through a written exam to pass the first step), I was of course accepted in France too, again from an international French school you would have some privileges, you were automatically accepted to the first one on your list. 

My own choices

University is almost free in France, it’s where students go when they are not from rich families or when they want to study fields like medicine where there is no private schools. I wanted to make sure to meet people from every background, these people became my friend today and I could not be happier. 

Reaching my thirties

I won’t miss my 20s, I would say those 10 years were rich in amazingly difficult situations, permanent doubt and questioning, feeling lost most of the time, pretending that everything is fine when it’s crap. Those years were like crossing Tanzania on a dirt and muddy road, with an old truck.

OMG Where to start ? I have been deflecting all the questions regarding my birthday, avoiding conversations and questions about what I should do on that particular day. Today marks a one month countdown to my birthday and I started to realize it was coming fast. 😄

To be honest, I have never been better. I feel good, confident, I have projects and goals, I am in love too. đŸ„° If you had asked me the same question like – a year ago – it would have been totally different.
The past year has been an amazing improvement and I could not thank enough the people who guided me along the way. I am getting emotional to rethink about this in fact. đŸ„Č
I learned to live my emotions, to sense them.
It might seem a little hard to understand or to explain, it’s very subtle. I learned to tell what was on my mind instead of keeping it. I think in a way I became more of an adult. You might think it’s a little late but I somehow never understood that I was not being totally myself before last year.

Of course I wished I had done this whole work before, but I think all paths are different and some matters take time. I guess I was not helped from where I come from, my family would not qualify as very helpful in non-concrete situations or things of the Life, however I know they would have liked to understand it better. I come from a family where silence wins over truth/reality because those subjects might make us uncomfortable.

I won’t miss my 20s, I would say those 10 years were rich in amazingly difficult situations, permanent doubt and questioning, feeling lost most of the time, pretending that everything is fine when it’s crap. Those years were like crossing Tanzania on a dirt and muddy road, with an old truck. A bit like in the TV show relating the nightmare of being a truck driver in Congo. (Youtube Link)
Oh yes I have learned a lot, and nothing scares me I have to say. I learned to plan and anticipate all kinds of situations.
I also had my good share of laughs, travel, relationships, parties. I made friends for life all around the globe. I could make a website dedicated to all the crazy situations I clumsily put myself into 😇.

Today, I am still not quite sure where and with whom I will celebrate my 30s, but I am confident that I will make something for my 31st đŸ„ł. Any idea is welcome in the comments below.

I am not an alcoholic, I just live in Shanghai

J’ai dĂ©couvert assez vite que cette devise se rĂ©vĂ©lait exacte, cela peut paraĂźtre ridicule mais les habitants de cette ville ont une aversion particuliĂšre pour les boissons alcoolisĂ©es. Pourquoi ? D’une part on y fait beaucoup la fĂȘte, parfois du dimanche au dimanche, au tout dĂ©but de mes soirĂ©es shanghaĂŻenne on allait aux open bar du Sky avec les copains, c’est tout ce dont je me rappelle 🙈. D’autre part, il y a une forme de lassitude avec la vie lĂ -bas, toute personne y vivant Ă  un bar Ă  la maison pour pouvoir se boire un bon petit verre pour oublier aprĂšs le travail.

Il y a les soirĂ©es en club et les soirĂ©es au KTV dont les locaux raffolent. En gĂ©nĂ©ral les KTV sont localisĂ©es dans des tours de bureaux, un Ă©tage leur est dĂ©diĂ©s, on y accĂšde via un ascenseur. Quand vous arrivez au karaokĂ©, vous devez choisir une salle privĂ©e en fonction du nombre de personnes et de l’ambiance recherchĂ©e; puis vous passez dans la supĂ©rette du KTV pour prendre de l’alcool et de la nourriture, une hĂŽtesses vous installe dans votre salle pour que vous puissiez sĂ©lectionner les chansons. Il y en a, heureusement, quelques unes en anglais, souvent avec des clips copiĂ©s sur MTV ou des clips que vous n’aviez jamais vu pour ces sons, la beautĂ© du piratage. Sur la tablette qui vous sert Ă  sĂ©lectionner les chansons, vous pouvez aussi commander de la nourriture et des boissons supplĂ©mentaires, la salle se paye Ă  l’heure. Il n’est pas rare d’aller au karaokĂ© avant de sortir ou mĂȘme aprĂšs le club 😅.

À l’Ă©poque on achetait tous des DVD piratĂ©s des derniers films sortis au cinĂ©ma, en fait, je n’ai sincĂšrement jamais compris comment acheter des DVD non piratĂ©s lĂ -bas, je sais que ce n’est plus vrai aujourd’hui, de toutes maniĂšres qui regarde encore des films sur ce format… Cela avait des avantages et des inconvĂ©nients, parmi les avantages, un film pouvait sortir en salle aux USA, on Ă©tait sĂ»r de l’avoir en mĂȘme temps voir parfois avant.
Si on l’avait en mĂȘme temps, le film Ă©tait trĂšs souvent filmĂ© par un complice aux USA dans la salle et copiĂ© de cette maniĂšre, du coup parfois la personne bougeait un peu et le film aussi, et la qualitĂ© je vous laisse imaginer…
Si on avait l’extrĂȘme bonheur de pouvoir acheter un film avant mĂȘme sa sortie en salle, il fallait accepter d’avoir les bandeaux en bas et en haut de l’image indiquant que cette copie provient de la boĂźte de production et est protĂ©gĂ© par des lois fĂ©dĂ©rales. Ces films Ă©taient vendus un peu partout dans des magasins dĂ©diĂ©s ou sur des marchĂ©s de contrefaçons que l’on trouve un peu partout dans la ville, prix pour les Ă©trangers 10 yuans (1€ Ă  cette Ă©poque). Il a fallu s’en sĂ©parer au retour de Chine pour Ă©viter d’avoir des problĂšmes avec les douanes 😏.

J’ai fait deux terminales au lycĂ©e français, et oui, cancre un jour, cancre toujours đŸ€“. Les lycĂ©es français Ă  l’Ă©tranger en Asie ont tous 100% de rĂ©ussite au bac gĂ©nĂ©ral. Les copies sont corrigĂ©s en avance sur la France mĂ©tropolitaine, entre les diffĂ©rents correcteurs de la zone Asie. Avec un systĂšme pareil, on peut imaginer que c’est facile de s’arranger đŸ€«. Pour ne pas risquer d’entacher la rĂ©putation de l’Ă©coule et ses prĂ©cieuses statistiques, qui permettent de justifier le prix exorbitant de l’enseignement, on m’a proposĂ© en milieu de Terminale S, de repasser en 1ere ES, et de faire une Terminale ES et un bac ES l’annĂ©e suivante, Ă  l’Ă©poque j’ai dit oui, au moins j’ai pu profiter d’une annĂ©e en plus lĂ  bas mais bon… c’est plutĂŽt sympa les offres sur-mesures non ?
Les lycĂ©es français Ă  l’Ă©tranger, c’est un peu le reflet d’une sociĂ©tĂ© sans mixitĂ© sociale. Les classes sont composĂ©es d’Ă©lĂšves dont les parents sont tous des CSP++, sauf les enfants de profs đŸ„Č. Les classes sont rarement composĂ©e de plus de 20 Ă©lĂšves, les LycĂ©e de Shanghai a la particularitĂ© d’ĂȘtre franco-allemand, cela lui permet de pouvoir financer son propre terrain de foot et sa piste de course de 400m, sa piscine chauffĂ©e et sa salle de thĂ©Ăątre/cinĂ©ma. Les Ă©quipements n’ont rien a envier Ă  sa concurrente, l’Ă©cole amĂ©ricaine, encore plus chĂšre.
Je dois dire que je n’ai jamais apprĂ©ciĂ© ce manque de mixitĂ©, c’est mĂȘme sĂ»rement pour cela que j’ai refusĂ© d’entrer dans une Ă©cole post-bac type IESEG, oĂč Ă©tait tenez vous bien admis sans concours mais que sur dossier les Ă©lĂšves des lycĂ©es français Ă  l’Ă©tranger, pareil pour science po on pouvait prĂ©tendre Ă  un des campus de ScPO Paris en dehors de Paris puis finir Ă  Paris pour son master. Pour les universitĂ©s le premier choix Ă©tait validĂ© automatiquement, j’ai pour ma part souhaitĂ© aller Ă  l’UniversitĂ© pour avoir une plus grande richesse humaine. Je voulais rencontrĂ© des gens que je n’aurais jamais rencontrĂ© si j’Ă©tais allĂ© dans ces Ă©coles pour enfant de riches. La reproduction sociale de l’Ă©lite, beurk.