Only six weeks left in China, and I’m starting to stress about all that comes with reaching the end of term, with the addition of figuring out how to get a year’s worth of things in one suitcase that must weight less than 35kg… It will be a great feat to say the least! Especially after visiting the Disney Store in Shanghai, I’m quite concerned about how much I will actually be able to fit into it. I’m also trying to fit more adventuring in before I leave. Since I last posted I’ve been to Shanghai and Tianjin. Both cities were amazing, though I have to say Shanghai was far more snazzy (snazzy? I don’t think I’ve used that word in a long time) as it had so many tall and beautiful buildings, and who doesn’t get wowed by seeing The Bund for the first time!?
My trip to Shanghai was amazing, even if my feet were aching the entire time. (I will say that if you come to China, bring sturdy shoes for walking. If you’re like me and have flat feet, they’re kind of essentail. As I ended up having to throw out a pair of boots while I was there, because after 9 months I had literally worn them to death. It was a sad parting, but they had to go. So goodbye black boots 2016-17, I loved you well.) I saw 宁安寺(Ningan Temple, meaning the Temple of Peace and Tranquility), and The Bund, which were both so beautiful. Ningan Temple was so peaceful amidst all the hustle and bustle of the city. Walking around people were burning incense, and praying. It was such a relaxing place. In the middle of the grounds there is a large metal statue/structure (picture right), I’ve looked for a name for it and am yet to find somewhere that says what exactly it is. In any case, we saw people trying to throw coins into the hollow sections inside it. Apparently it is supposed to bring you good fortune if you can successfully throw a coin in, the higher the level the greater the fortune. I threw a coin, but I only got it into the first level, but I suppose it’s better than missing completely! I took so many photos there, it was just such a wonderful place, I could have happily sat there all day enjoying the calm surroundings. Also seeing such an old place, surrounded by tall skyscrapers was pretty amazing. It felt slightly surreal.
After looking around the Temple for an hour or so, we then headed to Yuyuan Garden and the surrounding shopping streets. I bought a couple little souvineers, but mostly just took more photos. I find I have really enjoyed my photography this year. Not only does it allow me to capture my year here, but it lets me explore my creative side a bit more while I’m not studying film. As much as I have enjoyed studying Chinese this year, I must admit I also miss studying film, but I will have plenty of time for that next year, so I’m not so worried! After signing up to do a 10,000 word dissertation and a 5,000 word extended research project, I think I will be plenty busy next year. Not to mention being editor of my university news paper, so that will be exciting, too. Anyway, tangent over, back to Shanghai!
We went to The Bund, which was pretty much as awesome as you’d expect it to be. We took a boat ride along the 黄浦江 (Huangpu River) which was so nice after walking around in the heat all day. We paid extra to sit at the front of the boat out in the open air and it was so worth it. A nice refreshing breeze as we got to see all the building that were lined up along the edge of the river, and as the sun began to slowly set, the skyline was really amazing to see. I had never really thought I’d actually get the opportunity to go to Shanghai, and I’m so glad I did. Nothing beats seeing things with your own eyes, and this was something I won’t forget (sore feet included)!
Moving on to our trip Tianjin (a university organised trip), it was also pretty cool to go there and see the Tianjin Eye, and take another boat ride along the 海河 (Hai River, which incidentally means “sea river”). Yet another opportunity to take lots of photos, and spend time with friends and classmates.
One thing I’ve learnt over this past year is that taking the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and learn about their cultures’ and lives’ is one of the most eye opening things you’ll ever do. You never realise how different it all can be, and in a few cases, how similar. I haven’t made as many friends from different countries as I would have liked. Being scared of the language barrier and already being outside my comfort zone, I guess I was just trying to find what felt familiar to me. However, the friends I have made, helped make this year so much better. My wonderful tandem partner has helped me improve my language skills and confidence, as well as making me laugh when I was down. Friends from my classes have taught me so much I didn’t know before, and I think that’s what year abroads are really about. Not the language learning (sorry all the teacher out there, learning the language is of course important, just not most important) but learning to open your mind to all the people in the world who lead different lives to you. I’ve met people from not just China, but America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Columbia, Mexico, Malaysia, Turkmenistan… The list goes on. All these people from so many different places, and they all have such vibrant stories to tell. And yes, you won’t get on with everyone, but how will you know if you don’t try talking to them. Everyone does their year abroad differently, but this piece of advice goes for everyone. Take every opportunity you can, and you’ll have a great (roller-coaster, because yes, there are lots of downs, too) year abroad.