Hello again! If my name looks familiar, it’s because I’m starting my third semester abroad and my third semester as a Study Abroad Liaison! After spending a year in London and a summer in New York, I was ready to tackle the next great adventure: Asia.
Studying abroad in London was an amazing experience. It was fun getting used to the new culture of things closing early and drinking lots of tea, and traveling around Europe on the weekends was like a dream come true.
However, studying in China is a completely different story. I’ve been here one week, and have already had some wild experiences. I landed in Pudong Airport knowing only the subway route to the dorms and holding a small map provided by NYU Shanghai with the address of the building written in Chinese. I hopped on the train to Jinqiao Road Station (which I had been pronouncing completely wrong – it’s “Jin – Chow”). And when I got out, I could not figure out where the building was. It was 7 am after a 6 hour flight from Malaysia, I was exhausted, and I could not communicate with anyone. I expected more people to speak English, but even hand signals and map pointing took me an hour to finally find the dorms. It turns out the entrance was down a side street that looked like a driveway to the nearby mall – oops.
I was frustrated, wondering how I had ended up in Shanghai when I felt that I ought to be with my friends in New York enjoying the last bits of summer, not sweltering in the 92-degree Shanghai humidity with everything I own. But then I remembered – “Ashley, you’re literally in China!” Since I’m in BPE, I have known I was going to Shanghai since my senior year of high school, and at last I was finally here.
I went exploring that afternoon, snacking on the bread I bought for lunch because I’m vegetarian and had no idea how to order food let alone ask it to be meat-free, and was stopped by a tourist like a celebrity and was asked to pose for a photo. We tried to make small talk, but they didn’t speak much English and my Mandarin is limited to “ni-hao.” But that small interaction made the whole enormity of being in the largest country in the world in a city of 24 million people just a little less overwhelming, and I am now ready to take on whatever China throws at me!