I live in a tropical area with an excessive amount of palm trees. As my plane departed, that was the last thing I saw; The palm trees swooshing by. I knew ‘that was it’ and there was no going back. Despite the endless research I did on Shanghai, I couldn’t help feeling clueless about the upcoming 6 weeks. I convinced myself that the feeling was just part of the adventure and experience.
Upon arriving in China, the change of environment was a culture shock. I know they say that honeymoon is the first stage of culture shock, but I sure skipped that stage. Where were the English speaking people? Wasn’t Shanghai supposed to be very “international”? Why are the food portions so small? Where is my cold water for dinner? How do I even call home? Where is my high speed internet? 6 weeks seemed eternal.
These were the questions that I crazily tried to find an answer to. I guess I didn’t get the hint that I was now in a different country with a different culture, different rules, and different customs. I never thought I would have taken days to just accept reality. A change of attitude and attempt to completely immerse myself was only going to make my stay here better and easier.
Fast forward to my fourth week, and I am living the honeymoon stage. My internship at an online media publication, was a perfect match. The saying “journalism takes you places” finally makes sense. Writing and reporting in Shanghai has been my access to learning about the city, its culture, and I get to practice my Mandarin. My love for what I do has been enough to help overcome the culture shock.
This may not be my home country, but China has built my mental strength in such a short amount of time. It’s an experience that initially took me down, made me question my adaptability skills, and made me doubt my “I want to be a foreign affairs news correspondent” career goal.
China definitely got better than the first couple of days. I cannot forget to give credit to the other Absolute Interns. The fun we have together makes this experience worthwhile. It’s all about having a positive attitude and giving the culture a try. After all, it’s my chance to fully immerse in a different culture for a short period of time. This is one thing I cannot have in America.