Emily Rigsby: New Places, New Friends

This is the eighth 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. Emily Rigsby ’20 is a Music Major.

The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of…

  • Guest lectures, engaging group discussion and critical thinking
  • Spicy food, Lazy Suzan’s, and well-prepared veggies
  • Tall buildings, busy people, folks riding bikes with colorful ponchos
  • Belly hurting laughs, sometimes tears and FANTASTIC friends

Among many other things, I would just like to say that I feel very lucky to be here in Shanghai, China! No other time in my life have I had the opportunity to ride 12 hours in a plane and end up somewhere completely unrecognizable. For myself, as a first generation college student, I have felt really grateful to be able to spend the past three weeks learning and growing as a young adult! Previously, I have never traveled outside of the PNW, so traveling overseas is kind of a big deal for me and my family! The past month, I’ve learned how to be patient with myself and others, gained the confidence to try new things, and how to ground myself in scary situations. My time in Shanghai has been wonderfully memorable.

This past Tuesday our class visited the Oriental Peal Tower! It’s one of Shanghai’s tallest buildings that touches the skyline! When we first stepped out at the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower, we were engulfed  in thick storm clouds and jeweled raindrops. With thunder and lightning all around our heads, it was frightening to realize that I was hundreds of meters above the city and so close to being in and with a rain storm. Even though we had poor visibility, I felt very lucky to be in such a cool place. While looking out the glass, I was really wishing I could have shared the moment with my parents. When we are home in Boise we love to watch the summer rain storms with our blinds open and listen to the patter of droplets on the roof. Out of all my time in Shanghai, at this point I was missing home the most. This image was when the clouds had cleared some and we were able to see a bit of the busy city below.

June is the start of the rainy season in Shanghai, and boy did it pour on us! There were several times this week where I was completely drenched by just stepping outside for a short walk to campus. I found it rather entertaining seeing everyone’s different umbrellas bopping down the street, or the bicyclists suited in colorful full ponchos. Even though the sun wasn’t shining and warm, I felt warmed by seeing all different colors of rain wear spotted around! It was very entertaining watching 3 of my classmates try to huddle under a child’s size umbrella during a heavy pour on Wednesday. Of course I didn’t really pack water resistant shoes (including everyone else on the trip) so traveling around Shanghai in heavy rain with sandals was an interesting experience! Soggy feet galore!! Here is a photo of my roommate Madi and her very wet feet huddled under a shrub in the rain. Also there have been incredible puddle jumping opportunities around, so next time I visit Shanghai, I’ll come more prepared 🙂

On Friday our class visited Shanghai’s M50 Art District. This entailed exploring many artists’ studios and meeting some very friendly artists! As a mediocre water color painter, I really enjoyed spending time exploring and seeing different styles, media, and color choice! One exhibit that really caught my attention was the Shanghai Pride Exhibit. The gallery showcased the history of Shanghai’s LGBTQ community over the past 10 years and the development of Pride in Shanghai. I learned a lot from the exhibit and I was very excited to share what I learned with my other classmates! In addition to exploring the M50 Art District, I also was able to spend the afternoon with my new friend Laurinda! She’s lovely, so I thought I would share a photo of her enjoying her time at the art district!

As I wrap up my time in Shanghai, It’s bittersweet to realize we leave next week back to the states. I’ve loved learning these past three weeks, but I’m also really excited to see my friends and family and be able to reflect upon my time in China with them. Until then, I’m excited for what tomorrow brings! Just feeling thankful!



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