Travel Log 4 “Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Chase Chiga. Shanghai, China.

Through my last few walks, I have noticed that the more I look around the more foreign things get but also the closer it seems to be to the US. The sights, sounds, and smells are rather strange at first. There is the ever-present fact that 90% of the people you see on the street would not understand a single word you say in English and the menus, unless I am near my school, have no English on them. The smells are something else entirely around here, most of the time it smells like nothing or very good, if you are around the restaurant stands, but there are times where some parts of the street smell like sewage or and if you are in the fruit section of a store it can smell durians which are almost as bad as sewage at times. However, after my few weeks here these smells become more or less a part of life and you begin to ignore them.
This place, however, has become much less foreign to me after the weeks here and the walk. While I can’t understand most of the signs the entire look of the city is just like a city back in the United States, everything you need is close to you. Honestly thinking about this the area I am in reminds me a lot of New Haven, in its layout and in the way it is built up. My university would be the equivalent of Yale to downtown New Haven. In my walk I also entered a mall and the malls here are very similar to the US they tend to be full of brands you would expect to see the US like Nike or puma, I would even say that the mall I went to had only one or two Chinese brand stores, excluding restaurants, in all of the mall.
The biggest way this has been a teacher has been in it showing my relationship to this city. Even though I grow more at home here this walk was a great way to not only teach myself my area but a good reminder that I am still in the liminality stage. I am here in Shanghai and growing accustom to it but the people around still look as me as different. Slimbach described a similar situation to how I sometimes feel walking around here including the walk I took to explore the area during his time in India. “My daily jog through the locale surrounding my flat never failed to excite local dogs and children. Both would chase me, the latter yelling Angrez! Angrez!” (10, page 183). While my situation during the walk wasn’t like that there are similar situations to that, sometimes I notice little children staring at me and my friends during the walk or people trying to take subtle pictures with their phones.
“Oracle bones” by Peter Hessler had a lot of situations similar to what I have experienced in my time here. During his long journey through China, he would often say that each city would still feel very new to him even after living there for a while. As the book also dives into the history and how Chinese culture has changed it is interesting comparing how my trip would be different if I was traveling here at some point in the past. For example, a lot of it talks about life during the height of Mao’s China. This trip would most likely be impossible during those days but yet in a relatively short amount of time, I am a welcome addition to the community.
For my picture, I chose to use the picture I took walking in the older part of shanghai. It is a great glimpse into how similar the city can feel at times to what I have seen before yet also how lost one can feel in a big city like this.log3

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3 thoughts on “Travel Log 4 “Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Chase Chiga. Shanghai, China.

  1. I think that it is so cool you decided to study abroad in China! I find that just like you, Florence is very similar to the states. When I walk down the street there are very many recognizable brand name stores, tall buildings, tourists etc. I felt kind of disappointed when I got here and realized just how similar to the states it is. With all the tourists, I feel the hustle and bustle of New York and that’s certainly something I was hoping to get away from. Of course the signs and people speak a different language but walking around the city feels quite familiar to home. The longer I have been here though, the more differences I notice with Florence and America. Do you like the feeling of living somewhere that is laid out quite similar to New Haven? Do you find a lot of tourists in your area?

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    • I do kind of like being able to navigate easily with a place similar to what I am used to. That being said part of me wishes this was still more different from home. My area luckily has not a lot of tourists and is a bit more full of family and students. There are parts of Shanghai full of tourist but even then it is largely more Chinese tourists then international tourists.

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