Brick Walls Are Barricading Me In





The language barrier

The language barrier for me has been a struggle to say the least. I knew it was going to be a rough ride but not this bad. When I walked into my dorm there was a local ECNU student standing next to me translating to the guards. It is a strange feeling when you are walking through the streets of Shanghai and have no clue what a single other person is saying. It feels like you are in a fog and the world turns a little slower.

The dining hall near my dorm is not for the faintest of heart. There is a large rumble of voices when you walk in. Then booming voices coming from the chefs telling the students their meals are ready. The problem is the chefs are screaming out the dishes that are ready–in mandarin. I think the chefs are used to foreigners because they wave at us when our food is ready. I am not sure how to read mandarin yet so the only thing I can do is point at the pictures. This usually works, but not always. It makes me feel bad that I do not know their language. It feels like the literal interpretation of a language barrier. Like there is an actual wall placed between me and the locals.

Burning off all the calories from eating an abundance of rice and noodles has been easy because we walk everywhere! My roommate and I have walked over 5 miles of every day since we have arrived. Somedays we walk more than 10 miles.

Inconceivable landscape

What can I say about the landscape in Shanghai besides it’s INCREDIBLE! I walk around and am just shocked at how gorgeous this place truly is. My roommate and I walked to an amazing park. The landscapes and the building structures are crazy here. They somehow fit parks into these cities and, when inside the park, you would never believe you were still in the city. It has only been a week, but it has already given me a new outlook on international travel. It is hard to understand just how breathtaking a location is through a computer screen. It’s such a different experience being able to see the Bund in person.

These photos are just a fraction of how unbelievable this area truly is. Classes are starting up this week and I am pretty excited to have a structured schedule again. I am also thrilled to be able to start learning mandarin! I will be able to slowly break down this large barrier that is restricting my communication with others. Here’s to kicking the language barrier wall down.

Even in my dorm there is only a small percentage of students that speak English. Some are from all over the world but they are mainly from parts of Asia.

Grasping Everything

The mandarin words I have learned to speak so far include thank you, water, and hello. It has been hard for me to grasp that you have to buy water bottles in order to get clean drinking water. Same goes for the air quality; I never understood how poor air can affect your health. Trying to walk around on a day where the air quality is deemed unhealthy snapped me into reality, requiring me to realize that clean air is not a given every day. It is strange to me how one day it can be perfectly fine air quality and then the next is unhealthy. Most of the days I have spent here have been moderate too low for the air quality.