My Experience in Shanghai

I still remember the first day I landed in Shanghai. As one who grew up in Tokyo, Japan, Shanghai seemed similar to Tokyo in a way that everything was so accessible. Although as I spent more time and explored the local way of living in Shanghai, I grasped the difference. The mix of global elements and traditional culture in Shanghai taught me both the new evolving part and traditional side of China. What fascinated me the most about this place is that when I thought that I had explored enough, I always discovered new sites and the allure of Shanghai. Even the largest fake market that I visited multiple times, I found out about the best tailor located within the market only two weeks ago.

Even though I do not speak fluent Chinese, people in Shanghai has always been very welcoming and friendly. Even though it’s a three hours flight from Japan to Shanghai, by the end of the program, I view Shanghai as one of the places where I want to come back to as my second home.

Learning language in the country is a completely different experience than learning it in a foreign country. Even if you do not speak the language fluently, interaction with local people in their language not only improves your language skill, but also teaches you the side of language you have never been exposed to. I hope to come back to this amazing place sometimes with polished Mandarin to immerse myself into the culture even more.

Forbidden City and Jingshan Park

On the first full day at Beijing, we visited the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park. Although most of us had already been to Forbidden City, it was nice to see the beautiful architectures once again. After we went through the entrance with the iconic picture of Mao Zedong, the symmetrical layout along a central North-South axis caught my eyes. Well organized structures and beautiful decorations of the palace explained why Forbidden City is one of the most popular visiting spots in Beijing. Even though many architectures resemble each other, our tour guide, William, walked through the difference and details of each.

One of the fascinating stories was at this one small well in; during the Qing Dynasty, the Empress ordered that Consort Zhen, who supported Emperor Guanxu’s constitution reform attempts, be thrown into the small well that remains today at the Forbidden City. It took us about two hours to walk around 180 acres of the imperial palace. Afterwards, we headed to Jingshan Park, which is located right across the moat from the Forbidden City. At the beautiful royal landscape garden, we went to the top of Wenshui Hill, which is the highest point in Beijing. The clear view of the entire Forbidden City was nothing but breath-taking.