Grateful For Old Friends

Sunday, March 19th, Shanghai

This morning, I met with Wilson and Crystal in a lovely bakery house for brunch. They are two old friends of mine, and our friendship has been about 17 years. We got to know each other since junior school, and after graduation from high school, we went to different cities for further education and work. Since Wilson relocated to Shanghai from Guangzhou last August, we couldn’t catch up frequently as both of us were so occupied by daily work. Crystal has been working and living in Ningbo (a city two hours away from Shanghai by high-speed rail) for years, and the last time we saw each other was in July 2015. She was in Shanghai this weekend for a MBA admission test, and the three of us finally had the chance to catch up on a rainy Sunday morning at my favorite brunch neighborhood.


The main topic of this gathering was to update each one’s latest work and life. Wilson is a lawyer and works for a leading Chinese law firm. Just about one year ago, he made a career switch. He left his job as a governmental officer to become a lawyer specializing in international trade issues. Compared with before, he is much busier now and has to work overtime often. But we can tell he is much more passionate about what he is doing, including long-term goals. He plans to apply for a LLM (Law of Master) degree next year, which he thinks will help improve his professional skills and cultivate an international mindset. Crystal works as Relationship Manager for a well-recognized commercial bank, and this is still her first job after graduation in 2011. Over the past 6 years, she has worked very hard to make herself grow and now is quite outstanding among her peers. Earlier this year she decided to slow down a little bit and is going to take a part-time MBA degree in Shanghai Jiao Tong University. She wants to leave more time for personal development and also hopes to explore the world more. Next month, she will visit Morocco with friends, and I believe it will be a wonderful travel experience for her.

Lee, Wilson, and Crystal from left to right


As for me, I’m working for an international business school to help manage its alumni relations and affairs. Meanwhile, I’m also doing some part-time work in public relations and communications from time to time as a freelancer. This is a good way for me to strike a balance between maintaining social status and fulfilling personal interests. Recently I’m also thinking about getting a MBA degree to further develop my business mindset and knowledge, which I hope might open up more possibilities for my career future. But I also know the opportunity cost is high for me, and I should evaluate the cons and pros carefully before making a final decision.


Most of my friends are already on the way to becoming “thirty.” In Chinese culture, we believe that people reaching this age are supposed to be more independent, mature, and stable (三十而立) . Parents eagerly want us to get married and settle down, and we do take lots of pressure from family and peers. However, some of us never stop stretching our potential and are still in various transitions for a more satisfied life. I also feel grateful for old friends like Wilson and Crystal whom I can turn to for support and help each other along the way.

Lee Zhang, Shanghai

Lee Zhang

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