First Month in Shanghai

Jennifer Ushakov
October 6, 2014

After living in Shanghai for almost a month, I feel fully adjusted. Although it was definitely a challenge at first, the culture shock wasn’t as intense as I expected. Since Shanghai is a thriving international metropolis, it’s easier than I thought it would be to get around with English, some useful Chinese phrases, a dictionary app, and a lot of pointing.

The biggest struggle? Walking around. Traffic laws are non existent here. With cars, mopeds, bikes, and carts flying by, crossing the street always feels like an intense game of Frogger.

Shanghai is divided by the Huangpu River into two areas. Pudong is the financial district side and has a very modern vibe. Puxi, where I live, is on the opposite side and is a more relaxed, traditional Shanghai. As soon as we step foot out of our hotel, there are locals, street food, and open produce markets in every direction. I love the location since it demands we merge with the Shanghai-ese lifestyle.

For the first week, we had orientation events. It was incredible. One of our first nights, we went on a river cruise and saw this magnificent city light up. The views were unrealistic.

Night skyline from river cruise

It was also a great way to see a lot of the city and begin to orientate ourselves. Before starting the cruise, we accidentally got to see a really neat water fountain display that was coordinated to music. Water show coordinated to music!

The next day we spent on a city scavenger hunt in smaller groups. It was a lot of fun. We walked around checking things off our list and acquainting ourselves with Shanghai’s way of life. Experimenting with the subway was intimidating at first, but it’s secondhand nature by now. After seeing some funny English slogans, morning exercise routines, and getting lost on one of the most crowded shopping streets in Shanghai, my group ended up winning!

A really cool part of O-Week was when our program coordinated a trip to Tongli. It was about a two-hour bus ride to the ancient canal town. At first, we walked around with a tour guide as she explained certain temples’ significances and who previously resided in them.

Roommates for the semester!

Fall 2014 IES group!

Afterwards, we got on the gondolas and floated down the canal. It was incredibly beautiful.

On the boat!

Tongli Ancient Canal

This trip was such a great way to experience China from a less urban perspective. The town was definitely more of how I picture traditional China.

Jennifer Ushakov

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi! Originally from Harrisburg, PA, I am currently a junior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a degree in Finance with a minor in Chinese language. I&#39;ve been studying Mandarin since high school and am incredibly thrilled to have the chance to practice my language skills abroad this fall! In my free time, I love binge watching Netflix, experimental home-cooking, and spontaneous outdoor adventures. Come along as I explore the heart of Shanghai this semester!</span></p>

2014 Fall
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