This is the fifth in a series of blog posts from Whitties studying on Whitman’s Crossroads: Shanghai, China: Second Language Acquisition in China and the USA program this summer with Professor Lydia McDermott. Mariah Ng ’19 is a Psychology major.
Today is my 27th day in China (!!!) I have experienced so much at this point, but also just not enough. I’ll admit at the beginning I was not necessarily looking forward to the rest of the month (mainly due to the language barrier and busy lifestyle of Shanghai), but the longer I get to know the city’s unique character the more comfortable I feel here. In this past week alone, I have travelled to a different province, eaten pigs brain, taught four classes of English to elementary school students (or as they call it here, “Primary School”), and travelled through most of Shanghai by metro.
Anhui, a more rural province about 3.5 hours West of Shanghai, was absolutely gorgeous. The boarding school we visited was welcoming and seemed much different than the typical Shanghai schools that we have been reading about. The vice principal, a multi-talented and sweet woman named Apple, took time out of her weekend to take us on a hike up into a bamboo forest. It was so serene. The dirt incline was surrounded by tan and green bamboo trees that enclosed us from the sky. This scenery combined with the cool morning humidity reminded me so much of home.
I have two favorite places in China so far ~ one is in the bamboo forest mentioned above and the other is a quaint town on the outskirts of Shanghai called Zhujiajiao. At the second-to-last stop on line 17 going toward a lace called “Oriental Land” (we were intrigued but didn’t end up going), you will find yourself in a place surrounded by water in almost every direction you look. Between each 100+ year old bridge was a plethora of tiny shops that were shoved into alleyways that could barely fit two single-file lines of people. Here we found trinkets, antiques, clothing, temples and LOTS of food.
As my last week dawns, I find myself pushing through the groggy afternoons to go to a different metro stop or try a new place for happy hour/dinner just to absorb as much of China as I can. Though it’s not likely I will miss the claustrophobia while walking down a street or the paparazzi we get as foreigners, I will miss teaching and the very kind people that I have met along this short journey.