20 Jul Exceeding Expat-ations
Arriving in Shanghai was a bit of a blur – 7 hours spent in airports, 16 hours spent on planes, and 45 minutes spent on a bus made for an entire day of waiting in anticipation for my summer excursion to officially begin. We were warmly welcomed by the Absolute staff and tables full of food, but my fellow students and I were a bit too worn out to fully appreciate the excitement and only had sleep on our minds.
I did not fully grasp the concept that Shanghai would be my home for the next six weeks until we set out on our photo scavenger hunt. The sightseeing seemed to get better and better as the day went on and the splendors of the city were laid out in front of us. A city I had researched for months was finally at my fingertips, and I felt freer than I ever had at home.
The first few days were slightly challenging without much familiarity of the area, the language, or the food. My roommates and I lived off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until we ventured out and tried the local restaurants. The meals that Absolute organized were exactly the types of Chinese food I was looking forward to enjoying here, including seasoned veggies, stir-fried meats, and, of course, plenty of rice and noodles. Once our group started finding eateries that satisfied our pallets (and our budgets), our meals greatly improved. We have all come to know and love Perfect Beef Noodle – a quaint stop along the street near our residence. For 15 RNB, a customer receives a quart of rice and meat that equates to at least two meals if not three. It is a college student’s dream.
Other attractions that draw us all in are the line of bars up and down the streets, all boasting their own happy hour specials. Our first night out as a group, we found our way into the attic of a dimly lit tavern which appeared as something out of a Harry Potter novel, complete with narrow staircases, vintage bookshelves, and antique lamps. And, much like the Room of Requirement, it seemed to appear out of nowhere right when we needed it. To be honest, I am not confident I could find the niche again.
As I write this, I am unbelievably grateful I have weeks ahead of me in which I can dive even deeper into the wonders this city has to offer, and I am certain Shanghai will not disappoint.