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ShangBai

12 Aug 2017

What I will miss:

-The people: All the amazing friends made on the program, teachers, co-worker, locals, our amazing RA Wang Min

-The food: The ease, cheapness, and homecooked feel of street food that can’t be found in the states

-The ease of travel: Taking the subway or bus literally anywhere and everywhere (and is nearly always on time) and a train that takes you from Shanghai to Beijing in 5 hrs? Can’t beat that.

-There always being something to do: Concerts, museums, art galleries, food fests, historic landmarks, ginormous malls, the city always has something going on

-The interesting people watching: Maybe this is just me, but it’s a great place to just sit and observe the daily going-ons of the eclectic residents

-Relatively cheap prices: Would seem almost criminal in the states

-Zhu pai and mian: My lunch at work nearly everyday for 5 weeks courtesy of BigYes Cuisine on YueYang Lu (岳阳路)

-Being able to talk without being understood: Sometimes it was fun to speak in English in public and know most people wouldn’t get what we were saying entirely (or just get weird looks when I was speaking English in general)

-Feeling accomplished when we would find where we were going purely based on Chinese roads and our Chinese map app: Navigating independently was a feat in itself and a skill I acquired to a higher degree while being in the city

-Using my broken chinglish: Making it halfway through a sentence or thought in Chinese only to revert to English by the end because I couldn’t figure out how to explain it fully in Chinese (to the amusement of our language partners)

-KTV: Seriously, why isn’t this a thing in the U.S.?

-Interesting stories of how people came to live in the city: Everyone has their reason for being in Shanghai and no two stories are exactly the same (and people bother to ask)

-Breathtaking scenery: The sunsets over the cityscape while coming back on the metro are not to be missed

 

What I won’t miss:

-The people: 25 million is a maybe a bit cramped and it’s nice not to have to worry about getting squashed on the bus

-The weather: Between 100⁰F weeks, 90% humidity, or typhoon-like showers, it will be a welcome change not to have to change my shirt after every time I step outside

-Not having a fridge or microwave or grocery store nearby: Eating out for every meal and not being able to do leftovers could be a drag sometimes

-Not having a way to do laundry: Relying on the generosity of others or one’s own ingenuity/resources for a basic necessity could get old sometimes

-Smoking and spitting: The endemic smoking habits on the street were what bothered my lungs most (not the air quality) and the constant spitting wasn’t the most pleasant thing to hear on a constant basis

-Using my broken chinglish: Feeling helpless when trying to communicate is always frustrating

-Crazy traffic/crowded sidewalks and scooters: It’s nice to be able to just go for a walk and not worry about getting plowed over

-Toilet paper in bathrooms: Not having to carry napkins on you at all times and feeling safe to flush your waste paper is a small matter, but it really is a noticeable difference in the long-term

-Explaining I’m Chinese but also American: Having to explain my whole backstory in casual encounters could get old

-Using my GPS to get EVERYWHERE: Looking up exactly how to get places for the first time every time just added a layer of complication (and stressing over whether your phone would die on the way there was never a great feeling either)

-Having to use a cab after 11pm: Flagging down a taxi in Shanghai at night can be one of the most frustrating experiences when all you want to do is get home

-Commutes: Going places and it not taking at least 35 minutes to get there is preferable in my book

-Using cash: The semi-frequent trips to the only ATM that accepted my debit and running out of cash at inopportune moments and having to borrow from others is not something I will miss

-Meeting people and then having to say bye probably forever: Such is the nature of short-term travel, but that doesn’t make it suck less

-Buying water: A concept that just irks me in general

-Wi-fi and VPN difficulty: Being rendered useless at work because the signal was bad, when the VPN wouldn’t work, or not being able to find any public wifi was the struggle

Although my “not miss” list is slightly longer, that’s not to say Shanghai was more bad than good. It had its highs and lows like anything else, but I definitely don’t regret going and it has taught me a lot in terms of living experience and understanding another culture by being in it and not just as an abstract concept.

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