End of Study Abroad – Reflection

The last four days of my study abroad in Shanghai experience I rented an apartment from airbnb.com which was ‘off-the-grid’ so I’m writing this blog after a 35 hour plane and airport experience, in Louisville, KY.  Studying abroad changed my perspective on life in ways I could not have predicted.  I have to admit I don’t currently miss China because I had become a bit homesick and was looking forward to coming home. (This probably relates to the graph we were shown in orientation.)

I absolutely LOVED the classes I took.  I took and intro to Chinese class which proved to be very helpful in getting around, asking questions or talking with the locals.  I also took an International Business class with two highly experienced expats as Professors.  I have to say this was one of the most valuable parts of my experience.  One professor was very experienced in the corporate world, the other in entreprenuership.  While I am an accounting major and plan to sit for the CPA exams, my real goal is to be a health/beauty/wellness entreprenuer (the vision is still in development).  I was able to talk to the professors about my interests outside of the conventional business school ciriculum and they connected me to people in Shanghai in the field.

As far as the group of students, I honestly didn’t stick with them much.  I was not much on sticking to an itenerary, preferring to follow my heart wherever it led.  I did so many amazing things in Shanghai.  I heard a few other students mention they didn’t feel they saw everything they wanted to see.  This is why I think not sticking to an itenerary was the right choice for me; I did literally everything I wanted to do and more.  I found it almost impossible to get lost in Shanghai due to the comprehensive metro system (believe me, I tried).

My fears about ‘making the first move’ have greatly decreased.  Studying abroad helped me see that if I have a clear goal in mind I can make it happen, even if I don’t know how yet, and given enough time to work with.  I was so fearful that I wouldn’t have the funds to go but working extra beforehand, budgeting well, and being open-minded caused me to have ample money while in China and lots leftover.  I also broke through some fears with a personal business project, as I took a few leaps and started building my website and purchased some small capital equipment.  These are two things I would have avoided because of the fear of failure and ‘not making the right choice’.

In the end, I wouldn’t have done anything differently.  I agree with Elizabeth, that travel is addictive, as I have made plans to go to Europe (or Brazil!) next summer.  I highly recommend China as a travel destination.

ShanghaiBread for Sale


Yu Gardens, Shanghai

Shanghai is a wonderful city. There is so much to do here; so much good people watching. At times i lose myself in wonder, as i try to take everything in. My favorite thing to do is get a general idea about a place to go, find out which metro station leads there, and just leave for the day, a few hundred RMB in my pockets. Yes, sometimes i make plans, like when i went to Tea City (giant tea mall) or the four story medicinal herb pharmacy, but I prefer to allow my heart to lead me whereever it wants. I find all kinds of neat things this way.
Today i’ve done it again. I’m headed to south shaanxi road where i heard there was good shopping. Im forever looking for dresses and shoes. Its very dfficult to find shoes here because the Chinese people simply have a smaller frame than americans. When i tell them i need a 41, or a US 9 i usually get laughed at or taken to the mens department.
I was able to find a pair of ‘Chucks’ (fake version, found at the faux market) for about $10.00 but as far as cute sandals or dress shoes go, I’m usually out of luck.
Last week on one of my ‘adventures’ i ended up in the heart of the financial district on a thrill ride, ill call it. Literally, there was a small amusement park right in the middle of the city.  It swung back and forth, seemingly about to hit the trees, and then started to whirl around. All i remember was seeing the huge George Clooney poster on the side of a building and feeling comforted by that.

The traditional urban style of buildings hereI got to tutor two nine year olds!I will definitely go back to the Bund before I leave!
Afterwards, I found street dancers, musicians, people trying to sell me more fake goods, and more.  I don’t know that I would necessarily want to live in Shanghai, due to the rediculous number of people, the humidity, and the questionable food.  However, I have gained a lot of gratitude for my relatively priveledged Western upbringing.

A ‘touristy’ bar is called ‘Perry’s.  I met 3 Chinese friends (Tina, Alina, Wu Jian) but Perry’s has people from all over the world.  On any night you will find hundreds of people, Columbian, Italian, Spanish, African, French, …okay you get the idea.  One person I met invited me to and American Chamber of Commerce meeting, which I will attend next week.

My favorite places to eat are ‘Guy with Cart who Comes out After 11pm’.  He sets up a dozen different types of skewers, a grill, and viola, hot meat on a stick.   I also like ‘Super Chicken’ and ‘Coco (Taiwanese bubble tea.)

More later..

Tour of Bejing – 2015

Side street near the hotel in Beijing

Side street near the hotel in Beijing




Ni hao from Beijing, China!  I arrived here on Monday morning after a 24 hour plane adventure from Louisville, KY.  The last 5 days in Beijing have been organized as a tour and the actual classes haven’t yet started, so the group has hit a lot of major tourist sites.  I will tell you about those later, but first I want to mention a few things to note about China:

-There are very few actual toilets in Beijing.  Also, you need to bring your own toilet paper and sometimes even soap.

-Many Chinese people will want to take pictures with or of non-Chinese people.  It’s actually quite fun.

-Always bargain at the markets.  The prices are way over-priced and you can usually bargain quite a bit for souveniers.  Someone in my group said ‘People usually have to overpay a few times before they realize this’.  I think this is true.

-‘Pinyin’ is the alphabetical pronounciation of the Chinese characters and is written on street signs in the busy areas of the city.  This is very helpful when ordering food or telling a taxi driver where you are going.

-The subway system is surprisingly easy to navigate and safe.  I can’t say for sure how safe Beijing is, but I have felt just as safe as on the Louisville, KY public transportation system.  It is also only 4 Yuan per ride, which is less than 1 US Dollar.

-You either need to buy bottled water or boil your own.  There is no drinking out of a tap here.  At restaurants, they will bring a teapot of boiled water.  Do not expect a glass of ice-water here.

I’m leaving for Shanghai tomorrow, but have really enjoyed Beijing.