I have been sitting on my bed trying to figure out how I was going to organize my thoughts for my first blog post. So I guess I will talk about my first week. When I first arrived in Shanghai, the school I work for allowed me to take the weekend off and then I was swift off for intense teaching training. In the same week, I got a Chinese bank account, learned how to wire money overseas, signed a bunch of contracts, found and signed for an apartment lease, and had to figure out how the metro system in Shanghai worked since my teaching training was spread between three different locations within Shanghai.
In just the last three weeks, I have undergone a long list of new changes. I am sitting here shocked at how different my life is now. For one, I no longer live with eight girls in one quad. I now live in my own apartment in Shanghai. I am not driving, and my main transportation these days is the metro. I cannot cook my own food or go to the main cafeteria for my meals. Rather I eat out now or prepare my own food, which often means salami on crackers, salami on bread, or salami on salad. I use to never care to eat salami, but finding salami was one of the best meats I could find in China. Prior to coming to China, I would not have said I was a picky eater, but now that I am here, I know I am a picky eater.My friend introduced me to some stall food. Basically a little hole in the wall restaurants, or even just food carts on the street. My dad warned me about eating too many local foods. I guess you can say I went to local to fast, and for one week I woke up sick to my stomach. Now I am afraid to eat a lot of foods, so I eat a lot of junk food actually. I ate my first cup of noodles tonight in three years. All my healthy practices are slowly drifting away. However, once I figure out my gas stove I can cook my own foods, and I am really looking forward to that.
I like that I blend into the busy streets of Shanghai. Although, when people do talk to me, there’s this expectation that I am suppose to know mandarin. I am limited because I don’t speak mandarin. I often rely on pointing at objects and trying to be as animated as possible to get my point across. It’s like playing charades with the locals every day. If all fails, I usually try to speak the tidbits of mandarin I do know, mixed with a few English words, and some Cantonese. My hope is that they hear one thing that they might know and we can continue guessing each other’s messages. However, I am grateful that most locals understand English written numbers, and the metro also has color coded directions, as well as English names of each metro station. It really does make my life that much easier.
This goes all to say that there have been various challenges that I have faced, but there have also been many exciting moments of learning the Chinese culture and meeting many kind people that have crossed my path. I am beyond grateful to have this overwhelming peace and joy in my heart. I knew coming to China it would not be easy, but at the end very rewardable. I hope that I can come out of China with a small list of regrets, and a long list of overcoming obstacles.
Below are some photos of Shanghai, China. Thanks so much for everyone’s blessings and support!