This article first appeared on WanderlustWendy.com.
After 4 months, and 315 hours of studying (yes, I logged it), I sat for the CFA level I exam last Saturday. Freedom has never tasted so good.
I arrived at the Shanghai Expo center around 8am, and there were 15,000 anxious test takers, mostly Chinese, frantically flipping through exam notes, attempting to cram in those last few formulas. At the sight of this, any feeling of anxiousness dissipated. I simply didn’t see the point of subjecting myself to that level of stress.
The exam lasted 6 hours. 3 hours in the morning, and 3 in the afternoon, with one hour break for lunch. By lunchtime, I simply stopped caring. All I wanted was for the next three hours to go by quickly. Naturally, it did not. I finished the exam with 20 minutes to kill. I looked out at this massive exam hall, and found the entire notion somewhat ridiculous. I wondered how many people taking this exam actually needs it, and how many were simply looking for a challenge, and how many are doing this because people around them tell them it’s an important thing to do.
I feel nonchalant about the result. If I pass, I will attempt for level 2, if not, that’ll be the end of my CFA journey. I certainly am not going to spend another minute of my life re-taking for an exam I don’t need.
A fellow former Peace Corps Volunteer who currently lives in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, flew into Shanghai to take the level 2 of the exam. We met up at the Starbucks right after the exam. It was wonderful to have someone to commiserate the experience together. We headed directly to a bar, and drank our happiness away, and chow down in delicious Mexican food that reminds us of America, the way we did in Cameroon, during rough days. Some things from life in the Peace Corps never change.
Yesterday, I hosted an epic picnic in Fuxing Park that gathered over 30 wonderful friends! Over the past four months, my social life has diminished to mere nothingness, and there are friends I haven’t seen in ages. Big gatherings are never conducive to proper catch up, but it was nevertheless fantastic to see friends, and to connect people. I love Shanghai for this vibrant attitude. Everyone is always open to meet new friends, and I am grateful that friends here understood my sudden withdraw to study for an exam I do not need, and are happy to welcome me back to their lives now that I am free!
Look forward to a fantastic summer in Shanghai, a city that continues to surprise me, even after 2 and half years!
You can contact Wendy Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.