Orientation week. The time of 20-hour days, jam-packed schedules, awkward first introductions (and then re-introductions when you don’t remember meeting the person the first time), trying to make a decent first impression, acclimating to a new environment, and above all, trying to get some sleep.
This week has brought with it both good and terrifying moments. Thankfully, the terrifying are very few and far between, and mostly concern my realization that Accelerated Chinese Language (ACL) is literally going to be taking over my life, with 4 hours of class and 8 hours of homework every day. But no matter how much I liked the campus tour or the academic intro, or the jaw-dropping Chinse acrobat show, I’ve enjoyed going out and seeing the city myself more than anything else.
On Tuesday, a group of us decided to take an adventure into Shanghai with a goal of getting lost in the city. We hopped on the metro, picked a random destination stop, and just went with it. And it was great! We chose People’s Park as our random metro stop and found the lush gardens and scenery absolutely breathtaking. I loved walking around the little lakes, crossing picturesque bridges, and following the cobblestone paths. But, while the park was gorgeous, we couldn’t ignore the gapping archetecture that was surrounding this green patch of paradise. And, even more alarming, as the fact that we couldn’t see the tops of the buildings because of the pollution!
While wandering around the park, we ran into a small modern art museum that was showcasing the work of Kusama Yayoi, and famous Japanese artist. We happily paid the 25 yuan (~$4) and had a great time wandering around the seeing the artwork. My favorite part was the Obliveration Room, which was a once-white room that now covered floor to ceiling with polka-dot stickers! Every visitor was given a pack of these stickers upon arrival and given free-range to decorate the room and each other! It was a blast!
On Thursday we made yet another venture into the city, but this time to The Bund and The Shanghai Museam. The Museam was 4 floors filled with Chinese sculptures, ceramics, and other artifacts. We only made it through 2 exibits before hunger struck in and we decided to save the other half of the museam for another day.
We quickly grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby restuarant (I got some delicious noodle soup) and made our way to The Bund. And the scnery left nothing lacking, with the famous skyscrapers, hundreds of tourists cramming to get a good picture (of both the skyline and of us!), and–at night–the entire scene lit up with gorgeous lights! It was pretty surreal.
Shanghai has been the first city I’ve actually lived in the midst of, with no suburb houses or neighborhoods to secure me. It’s definitely been fun navigating around the area with practically zero Chinese ability, and I am looking forward to another 3 months of it!