15 Jul 24,150,000 Chinese vs. 64,420 Americans
The title speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Comparing my home in Maple Grove, Minnesota, a suburb about 30 minutes north of Minneapolis (which is still less than 2% the size of Shanghai) to this massive metropolis is similar to comparing the koi pond in my backyard to the ocean. The water, environment, inhabitants, size, and overall living conditions are remarkably different. I’ll start with explaining some differences that you readers could have assumed, then get down to the specifics.
I don’t know a whole lot about marine biology, but if there is a system of communication in the ocean, I have a feeling it’s similar to the system in my koi pond. It’s a massive culture shock adapting to the inability to read food labels/menus, maps, street signs, buildings, or simple directions on a microwave or washing machine. Fortunately I know enough Chinese to tell the distinction between the men’s and women’s restroom, but if you’re 6’4”, be sure to watch your head so you don’t hurt yourself on the door frame when you walk into some of the stalls. Don’t let this scare any pre-China traveling readers, there are pictures just about everywhere to help you successfully deal with any communication misunderstandings. And to make you all feel more comfortable, there are generic male/female pictures on the bathroom entrances as well.
I come from a larger suburb that surrounds the Minneapolis area, so I’m used to thinking that I understand high-population mannerisms. Multiply my hometown’s population by about 375 and you get Shanghai. Even referring to the biggest city I’ve ever been to (prior to Shanghai), Chicago, you would need to multiply its population by about 9 to reach Shanghai. I’m telling all you readers this just so you have a sense of how awe-struck I was upon my arrival. This experience has broadened my vision far beyond the song, “It’s A Small World After All.” Try telling that to cab drivers in Shanghai. One of my favorite things to do is understand perspectives on interesting subjects outside of my own. I was very pleased with my choice of choosing Iowa State University as my college because of the large student body and having the opportunity to explore perspectives. Imagine how I feel exploring Shanghai!
Here’s a common motif throughout my blogs: let’s talk more about food. After only two weeks of residing in Shanghai, I laugh at Leann Chin, Chin Yung, and P.F. Chang’s attempts at mimicking Chinese cuisine. The food here is unlike any Chinese takeout I’ve ever had in the states; however, I would never think to walk down the street in search for pig hooves or frog legs. To reiterate, I can’t read the menus so it’s a bit of a gamble whenever I order if they don’t have pictures (which they usually do). Dissimilar from back home, I’ve won all my gambles here. The authentic Chinese food here is incredible, and there’s an impressive amount of western chain restaurants located throughout the city if you’re ever feeling homesick. Who knew how good China would be with chicken sandwiches?
An incredible luxury I’ve been blessed with that I don’t get in the states is having my own room. I was shocked when I first walked into the housing that Absolute set up for us. There are 4 televisions, a full kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a laundry room, and a living room; the perfect place to come back to after either a long day at work or an exciting weekend with friends.
One last noteworthy item: no mosquitos in Shanghai!