All cities in all countries have at least one thing in common… diversity. While China may not be as ethnically diverse as America, the range of socio-economic classes is just as wide.
Like any other country in the world, China is a mix of people both wealthy and poor. While food is very cheap in Shanghai, the cost of living is high. Most people can be found living in high rise apartments that vary in condition, location, and access to the metro. And then there are people living in dilapidated homes held together with tarp and wire.
I was told that many employees of large corporations are bused to and from the outskirts of Shanghai everyday. People may live 2 or even 3 hours away from their job in the city. Why? Because the cost of living is much cheaper out of Shanghai. These people leave their homes at maybe 6AM and do not return until 7, 8 o’clock at night. This blows my mind. When is a good salary worth a lengthy commute that leaves little time at home?
As a long-commuter myself, I am frustrated by the fact that work dominates my life. What is the point of working if you cannot truly enjoy the fruits of your labor? But like the Chinese, I believe it is important to pay your dues and work your way up to a better job and better life.
It is the opportunity of advancement and ultimate success that drives us to work hard. We do what we must in order to do what we want. Whether American or Chinese, we are all searching for balance in our lives.
Let us hope we find it.