24 Jul What can Shanghai offer you?
I came to Shanghai for an internship, but what I will take away is something you cannot buy. Coming to Shanghai is in a way going to college for the first time. You are all alone, have to make friends, and make sure there’s food in your refrigerator for those late night cravings. In a crazy way, coming to Shanghai was a new beginning, you see, taste, and experience things you would have never imagined.
Shanghai is known for their street food, as it is what I live on now. I don’t want to go to McDonalds in China, I want to get the full experience of Chinese cuisine. So my rule for China is no international restaurants, it must be authentic because the Hy-Vee Chinese is not authentic (sorry Iowa). Luckily for me, there is a dumpling street vendor about a block away from my apartment, so you can see me there almost every night.
The best part about this tiny restaurant is that it is family oriented, as in everything is made by the family. While I wait for these amazing dumplings, I watch the mother, uncle, and daughter all make the fresh dumplings. Rolling the dough, and then taking the meat from a bucket (it’s not gross at all), and folding it into the dumpling shape. The father then fries them right in front of you, so you know it’s authentic. The best part about it is that you can get eight dumplings for 10 RMB or $1.63! There are vendors all around town that are just like this one, you just have to be open-minded going into it!
While living in Shanghai for 18 months, I never took the subway. There was no need to because we had the best driver in Asia, Mr. Chung. So when I took the subway to work the first day I was worried I would miss my stop, get pick pocketed, or be flattened by the doors trying to close. Another thing to keep in mind is that I am from Iowa, we don’t have subways, we have cornfields instead. The subway is now my favorite mode of transportation; its cheap, flexible, and can take you anywhere in the city. In China, everyone pushes you in the subway, not to be rude but because they want to get on that train. So when someone pushes you, you push right back and no one gives you a dirty look, unlike the US. I take the subway twice a day, and it is always an adventure because you never know who you are going to meet or see.
Taxis are a fun way to get around town, but finding them is the fun part. You would think that with a city of 23 million people, there would be so many empty taxis that want to make some money. As a blonde haired, blue eyed young adult, some pass me as I flag them down, while others cut across three lanes of traffic just to pick you up. Once in, you hope the driver knows where to go, and won’t take the long way to your destination. An app called “Hi Shanghai” is filled with every restaurant, club, building, and street name translates it into Chinese for the driver, so all you have to do is show him the Chinese. If anyone has road rage in the US, I recommend not coming to Shanghai at all. As people cut you off without a blinker, drive on the side of the street, and come within inches of you. I have learned that this is the way of driving in China, you don’t let others into your lane, they have to make their way in. Thankfully Mr. Chung was a pro at driving in Shanghai and could get you from one side of Shanghai to the other in 30 minutes.
Scary to think that I have a little more than two weeks left in China, yet I still have to visit my old house, school, and see old friends. I don’t want to leave Shanghai just yet, there is so much left to learn from a city that has given me a chance to make a name for myself. Watch out Shanghai, these two weeks will be a time to remember!