I’ve arrived in the beautiful city of Shanghai and am approaching the third week of my adventure! I’ll try to avoid the cliché of using the word “surreal” but few other words can describe the experience thus far. The mix of personalities amongst the group is nothing short of eclectic, ranging from absolute party animals to bearded philosophers. Of course we all know that when contradicting personalities unite, it makes for a great reality TV show! Thus expressing the strange feeling I get from time to time that I’m a character on The Real World MTV rather than a college kid living in a hotel with a bunch of very hormonal young adults.
I’ve been spending my time buried in a 200 level Chinese textbook and still have little to no clue what I’m doing. However, when I find the time to see the light of day, it doesn’t take very long for notable encounters to occur. Whether it’s a near brush with death after an army of motor scooters ignores a pedestrian’s right of way, or a nearby customer at the restaurant we choose for lunch beams over a plate of cold, bony chicken feet, I am constantly reminded of how drastically different this place is from home. In a way, I feel as though I’ve almost experienced a minor feeling of stardom in my time here, because although Shanghai is a huge bustling city, there are certain folks who travel from small villages and have never seen a white face in the flesh before. If the toddlers accompanying them aren’t shrieking and pointing, they may approach you to ask for a picture.
I’ve struggled quite a bit with the food since I’ve arrived, but continue to try to navigate a way around the salt, oil, and carbs that practically embody the Chinese diet. Since bargaining my way into a cheap gym membership and finding a nearby juice bar, things have begun to brighten up. I still haven’t caved in and bought the thirteen dollar jar of natural peanut butter that’s been calling my name at the Western Market, and I never knew my reliance on cheese could be subdued for this long, but time will tell! Here’s to taking it one day at a time.