Greetings! There’s just under 2 weeks left before I leave for Shanghai, China and begin my semester abroad! I’m very excited and somewhat nervous, but that’s just natural 🙂 I just think: “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” and I’m good! I am focused on making this semester the best and most memorable it can be!
I spent a large amount of last week recovering and unpacking from a busy 9-week camp counselor position at an outdoors camp [CJL], so these next two weeks will be packed. My mom and I love making lists, however, and so with the help of Alliance and the Internet, we have an abundance of “to-do”, “to-buy” and “people to see” lists. These are a few of the sites we got advice from: Alliance Packing List, Travel China Guide, Her Packing List. I am also chatting with previous roommates and friends who have lived in China for all sorts of advice: what to bring (and not to bring), places to see, things to buy, communicating with home, etc. We’re on a mission to cross items off everyday, even though it seems we’re adding even more on a daily basis haha. I’ve at least completed most of my pre-departure appointments and meetings; those take up the most time and I’d advise anyone going abroad to complete them first.
I’ve also been researching a lot about what I’d like to do and see in China. I have been officially studying the cultural, historical and economical aspects of The Middle Kingdom for over two years and am inexplicably excited to see it with my own eyes. That being said, I do want to travel outside of Shanghai during some of the free time we’re given. My friend told me about using CTrip and Trip Advisor to research and buy tickets to go to both urban and rural areas. I am quite excited for Chinese transportation systems, too! Is that strange? Living in Florida, there are no metro systems (because if you dig 30 feet down you hit water <– exaggeration), and even in other parts of the US such systems are not revered. I adored the metro system in Madrid, Spain and have decently-high expectations for China’s. My college group has already planned two trips, one to Hong Kong and the other to Macau, but neither go to the North. I have plans to travel to Beijing via the high-speed rail, though I really would love to travel to smaller villages and natural sights in inland China. I want to hike Huangshan/Yellow Mountain [*see images below] and the Great Wall, see the Yangtze River, visit a Chinese temple and go to places that won’t always be overrun by tourists. I do understand that tourists and crowds are sometimes unavoidable, though.
Regarding the language, I’ve only been studying Mandarin Chinese for a year and so am a little wary of the intensive language program I’m diving into. However, I’ve fallen in love with the language and look forward to learning “on the ground” this upcoming semester.
Pretty soon I’ll be packing up my luggage, which I expect to be somewhat time-consuming and mind-boggling. Thank goodness for great friends and Internet advice (from total strangers)! It’s all part of the experience and I am so glad that I am taking advantage of this opportunity to study abroad. I’m very lucky to have the full on-site support and experience of my college [Rollins College] and Alliance backing me this semester-and for more reasons than just to help translate! I can’t wait for the 14 hour flight (18 hours total) to Shanghai! But actually-I enjoy transportation, remember? 🙂
New Chinese Word/Phrase: 山 shan1 mountain
黄河 huang2he2 Yellow River