Shanghai 2018

It’s been quite the journey here in China. Even in one semester, there is a lot to take away from being here. However, I regret to inform you that I must conclude my trilogy of posts for this semester. Welcome to the final blog, Blog 3: Shanghai. I hope you have so far enjoyed reading my (and everybody else’s) posts from around China!

To wrap up this epic finale of a post, I will write about where the magic all began: Shanghai. It’s a city of wonders, a magnificent city that shines radiantly in the darkest of nights. It’s a cosmopolitan city that has historically welcomed all kinds of foreigners, including me. Most of all, it is in my opinion the heart of modern China. It’s a city that only knows one direction: forward.

However, Shanghai does have a historical legacy that still lives on to this day despite economic transformation reshaping the identity of the city. It is possible to see that aspect of traditional Shanghai in Tianzifang (located in the French Concession), but I must admit, Tianzifang has now transformed into a tourist destination of art galleries. What I mostly saw were coffee shops, gift shops, and snack stands. But at the same time, Tianzifang had that kind of soothing feel, even when I was trying to make my way through the crowded street of people. The urban restoration project that changed the entire neighborhood still made me feel cozy over there, throwing me back in time to the days of when Tianzifang was simply a residential area. I wished I could see some spirits of former residents for the full experience, but oh well. Maybe in a movie, who knows. But those art galleries in that place were amazing. What a creative, bustling place.

Subways are absolutely amazing here. The trains are almost always on time, so much more reliable than the delayed NYC subways with their broken, aging tracks. Did I mention clean? Yes, the Shanghai subways are so clean! As a native of New York, these subway stations are literally from the future. I mean, Shanghai only knows one direction, and that is forward. Digital pay? Check. Sophisticated food delivery service? Check. Clean and reliable subway system? Check. Be right back, I’m going to get some bubble tea before I finish this post.

Fudan’s got a beautiful, wonderful campus. It’s pretty big, coming from a dude who’s only seen small campuses. I had to bike to my classes for once, which is something I don’t do in Davidson. Classes are definitely bigger, both in classroom size and number of students attending. Basically, here at Fudan, I received a liberal arts education (nothing new), but bigger! In a way, it kind of made me feel like home: our big culture in America, or is that just Texas?

I highly recommend students coming to Shanghai, whether for vacation or studying. However, I highly recommend knowing how to speak some Chinese. I did not find that many people in Shanghai who knew how to speak, or understand, any English. But this city made me feel very safe and comfortable. I never felt like I was in danger at any point. There are good Western restaurants here as well. I was able to get around places in Shanghai in three different ways: rental bicycle (ex: our beloved orange bikes on campus), subway, and Didi, the Chinese version of Uber. China has its own version of Amazon – Taobao – which you can apparently buy pigs from (not joking). In my honest opinion, Shanghai is a highly convenient city perfect for foreigners. I would definitely return here again, maybe even visit my Chinese teacher whom I will miss very much. (*tries not to shed a tear but it’s too hard*) Sayonara Zai jian Shanghai! And I mean that literally: “See you again Shanghai!”

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