This past January, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to China through St. Olaf’s Asian Conversations program. In China, we stayed at East China Normal University, located just a few subway stops away from downtown Shanghai. The campus was absolutely beautiful. There were trees lining the roads, two rivers, and a couple of traditional-styled Chinese gardens spread throughout the campus. We had class almost everyday, from 9-11 am. After class, we were free to do what we pleased.
ECNU memories: the struggle of ordering breakfast in Chinese, not figuring out how to turn on the heat in the dorm room for three days, walking along the river, exploring academic buildings, almost getting hit by a motorbike, being complete Americans and trying to pet the campus cats
area near Global Harbor Mall and the subway station
While in Shanghai, my friends and I attempted to make the most out of everyday. And boy did we. As a runner, I’m used to having sore legs and sometimes sore feet. However, while in China, I remember my feet and legs being sore everyday from walking. I have absolutely no regrets. We visited Nanjing Road, the Bund, the Jade Buddha Temple, Yu Yuan Garden, the China Art Museum, the English Concessions, and the immediate area surrounding ECNU. I had so much fun practicing my Chinese and being immersed in Chinese culture.
Shanghai memories: bargaining for shoes, seeing the Bund at night, ordering random things on menus, being lost, confusion at a karaoke place, figuring out public transportation, laughing at Chinese clothing with funny English phrases, squat toilets, egg custard pastries in the subway
Tourist mart surrounding Yu Yuan Garden
China is an amazing country and I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to visit. Being immersed in the culture and language I had learned so much about, mostly in the classroom, come to life was a wonderful experience. If you ever get the chance to visit China, take it. China is in a league of its own and in eyes, an adventure of a lifetime.