Eager Explorer on the Loose

Lucy Swett
January 23, 2017

After 5 movies, 3 hours of sleep, and airline food that was better than expected, I’m in Shanghai!

I’m in my native country! Even though I am Chinese, everything was really strange and unfamiliar at first. Shanghai is a huge city, and everything is in Chinese of course. I try to understand what signs say, but most of the time I only recognize a few characters. Plus, people on the streets talk in rapid Chinese. It makes me wonder what it is like when Chinese people try to listen to people speaking English. Do we speak fast too?

Shanghai is 13 hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast time, so I was really jetlagged the first few days. However, as the week went on, I got my bearings and felt more comfortable to venture out. In the middle of the city, there are huge buildings that light up at night. The whole side of one of the buildings even says “I love Shanghai.” All of these buildings are on the shore of the Huangpu river. There are old buildings on one side of the river and modern buildings on the other side. Both sides are really pretty, but having them right across from each other provides an interesting contrast. Exploring the city is a lot of fun. Everywhere you look there is something interesting, from street vendors to little shops with things from Chinese candy to Chinese New Year decorations to Chinese silk.

The other study abroad students and I went to the Yu Garden one day, which is a garden built by a Chinese government officer for his parents to enjoy. There are beautiful Chinese pavilions, halls, rockeries, and ponds. We spent three hours in the cold walking through every nook and cranny in the place admiring the plum trees, which Chinese admire for their resilience and ability to bloom in the winter. In many of the pavilions there were chairs lining three sides of the room, which served as meeting halls for people to gather and enjoy each other’s company back when people lived in the garden. I was trying to imagine what it would be like to live in the garden, and I started thinking that it would be cool to write a fictional story about what I think life would have been like for someone to live there.

We also discovered a flower, bird, fish and insect market while exploring Shanghai. They had the cutest kittens and puppies that could almost fit in the palms of your hands. However, the most interesting thing we found there were the gigantic crickets. They instantly reminded me of the movie Mulan and how Mulan kept a cricket behind her back for good luck. The market had crickets just like that with the little cages too. Chinese like crickets because of their chirping music and symbolism of success, but they look more like giant scary insects to me!

There is so much more to explore in Shanghai, but Chinese New Year is less than a week away. For the holiday, the other IES Abroad students and I are going to Chengdu to see the pandas! I’m really excited to see all the Chinese New Year activities come to life since there is sure to be tons of fireworks that will be pretty to watch from my apartment window!

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Lucy Swett

<p>Hi all! My name is Lucy Swett, and I am a sophomore at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. I am majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Chinese. I was adopted from Hubei China, when I was one year old, raised in the United States, and now I am excited to go back for the first time! I hope you join me in my adventure!</p>

Destination:
Term:
2017 Spring
Home university:
Lehigh University
Major:
Computer Science
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