Sunday, June 9, 2013


As I sit here and try to reflect on my 15 weeks spent in Shanghai, the strongest phrase that comes to mind is too fast.  I've studied abroad before, but I forgot how life-changing it can be.  I was walking slowly through the neighborhood yesterday, and I realized how much I'm going to miss this crazy city.  CIEE has some kinks to work out in their program here, but I look forward to sharing it with future students from St. Lawrence that decide to take the leap to China.

Studying in Shanghai has brought new life to my desire to learn Chinese, in between an insanely generous host family, enthusiastic 老师们, friends at East China Normal (Chinese and foreign alike), and the confidence I have gained in navigating life in China.  No doubt, it's tiring at times; I'm not used to cities (let alone the largest in the world), there are cultural quirks I will perhaps never be used to, and I am constantly reminded about the power of language.

Although my experience in Shanghai is coming to an end, my adventure in China is not even close to being over; I'm taking the bullet train north in a few hours to Beijing!  I've acquired an internship at The China Foundation Center and will be living there for the summer, probably until the last week of August.  I'm thrilled to have another perspective of Chinese culture, continue practicing my language skills, gain professional experience, and dig into a new city.  As much as I miss home, I wouldn't stay here if I didn't like it.
Thursday night my Chinese class invited our teachers out to Mexican food!  Granted, we've all had better, but I thoroughly enjoyed the endless chips and salsa with my sizzling vegetable fajita.  The idea was inspired by my one teacher who didn't know what tacos were-- something as being a North American, I totally take for granted.  I've had such a good experience learning with them and it motivated me to study harder and speak more.  They also said that we have also helped them learn about Chinese culture.  I'm really going to miss this class, we've had such a comfortable atmosphere.  I had a lot of fun drinking happy hour margaritas with them.
Photo 1
Friday was an afternoon full of CIEE photo-taking, the graduation ceremony (in which I was a M.C.), then a ritzy dinner on the 26th floor of the Renaissance Hotel at the Cloud 9 shopping mall.  The high-end buffet was such a treat, and I definitely should have eaten that much!  This is a photo of us 10 students from St. Lawrence University that studied in Shanghai this semester.  I cried last night when I had to say goodbye to Kat; she's been my wing-woman this semester, but I wish her so much luck for her adventure this summer out west in the U.S.
Photo 2
My host mom and younger brother.  My host grandma didn't attend, but she has been such an integral member of my Shanghai experience as well.  I can't articulate how thankful I am to them.  Each meal, clothes washing, bed changing, shopping trip, helping me with my electronics, school work, bank business... everything.  My life would not have been nearly as good had I not lived here.

Yesterday was an anti-climatic way to spend my last day in the city; the rain was a deterrent, though I had a Korean barbecue lunch with my four Chinese friends that I met at ECNU.  These girls are amazing and I hope that they can come to Beijing this summer and visit, or that I can dig up some money and visit them in Nanning, or Xiamen.  I spent time in the dorms with my program friends, then had dinner with my host family.  I went to the student bar, Ellen's, and was mystified by the new faces, and the lack of representation from the CIEE crowd (lots of last-minute packing).  I guess it makes sense, because we all have to move on.  Haha, I'm even going to miss the staff there, who've learned to deal with our enthusiastic, if not rowdy, antics.  I know I'm not going to see most of my classmates ever again, but I will never forget this semester.  I hope to see you once again, Shanghai!

No comments: