Foreign student in Shanghai bids goodbye to China

By Selycia Curwen Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/1 19:38:39

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

My time here in China is sadly drawing to a close. I arrived in September of 2017 and have enjoyed many opportunities to experience various sides of Shanghai society and Chinese culture that most tourists don't get to see. This I am proud of.

I came to China specifically to learn and improve my Putonghua. I came here being able to read only a handful of characters; now I am able to recognize roughly 1,000. My understanding of the language is much better, so I now am able to communicate my thoughts and ideas better too.

China as a country has many technological advancements that I will also miss. A few examples being the ease with which one can pay for almost anything using WeChat (this was a huge plus for me, as I needn't worry about carrying cash), the metro, which has been a very easy and convenient way to get around the city, and shared bikes, which have revolutionized the way people commute in Shanghai.

As for Chinese food, there is so much variety if you know where to look. I have tasted quite a few variants of rice, which is the staple food here in the south. Pounced rice buns with different fillings are amongst some of my favorite variations here. I was lucky enough to try making my own jiaozi, which is a lot harder than it looks, almost an art form to say the least.

I have also never eaten so many different types of mushrooms before I came to China, and hope to find them back home and cook up a storm. Something I think many countries don't know is that Chinese food is actually rather spicy, especially Sichuan cuisine, which is famous for their spices. I've become so accustomed to spicy food that now I tend to crave it, something I think my mom would be very surprised to hear since, prior to my coming to China, spicy food was never my favorite.

Shanghai has a very rich artistic flair. You are oftentimes able to see traditional and ancient influences with a modern twist, such as sewn silk portraits and modern designs on traditional pottery and tea sets. I think it's great that ancient traditions are still present in everyday objects and everyday life here; many Western countries have started to lose this ideal, unfortunately.

I also managed to tick something off my bucket list: Shanghai Disneyland! A dream came true. We went during the week so as to avoid all the chaos and crowds, and tickets were cheaper too. I may only be 19 years-old, but on that day I felt even younger, and had the time of my life. We went on some rides, which luckily didn't have extremely long queues, and walked through the entire park twice. Not many people can say that.

Although I've seen my fair share of China and its culture, there are still so many places to go to and experience. A holiday trip to China seems to be the best idea and next time I'll take my friends and family with me. I could use the trip to test how much Putonghua I still remember, as I won't have as many opportunities to practice at home.

China holds a special place in my heart. It always will. The country and its people have played a major role in my personal development and the maturation of my perspective of the world. I'm left amazed by how many opportunities there are out there. I recommend studying in Shanghai if you plan on expanding your world view. China, thank you for your lessons, memories and opportunities, I'll see you again someday.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

Posted in: TWOCENTS

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