Congratulations to all members of the CIEE Shanghai program, we've officially been here for over two weeks!
Wow. What a way to start out the time here in Shanghai. I know, I've neglected the blog universe recently, but I'm back!
Here's what you missed--
Last Tuesday was our first day of school... ahhhh! For a beginner 1 student such as myslef, you could literally smell the confusion. Like most days in Shanghai, it was an overcast day, perfectly mimicking the confusion and cloudiness in my brain trying to juggle characters, pin yin, english translations, correct tonal speech... and, oh yeah, I am a person, so I guess eating, showering and sleeping would be good too.
Let's just say, 4 hour classes in Chinese everyday is not exaclty a walk in Zhong Shan Park.
One of my favorite parks, I often come here to study. Oh, did i mention studying yet? Ah, yes. The studying is less of a verb now, and more of a way of life. It's a religion, something that you commit every waking hour of the day to.
No, no, I take that back. Definitely not just hours that you are awake. Thursday night I had a dream I put a third tone over an "I" instead of an "E" and the world started bursting into flames and there was lava everywhere and there was someone screaming somewhere.
Granted, I have put just a little bit of pressure on myself... but just a little! Like I said, studying for class is a way of life. No worries! I'm not the only one...
Pictured: Bradley, Alec, Lara, & Eddie. (Fellow temporary slaves to the art of studying the beloved Chinese Language).
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love it. So many characters make much more logical sense than English it makes me wonder why in the WORLD English has to be so complicted. For example: to say the days of the week in chinese you simply put the Chinese character for "xīngxī" in front of a corresponding number of the week. So, since the number 1 is "yī", Monday would be "xīngxīyī". The number 2 is "èr" so Tuesday would be "xīngxīèr". And so on. Logical. Simple.
I also truly believe that just in this one week of class alone, I have better been able to grasp Chinese culture in general. Through the language, I have been given what seems to be my own personal peep hole into what it truly means to be Chinese.
Yes, it's true, Chinese is complicated. So complicated in fact, the word "complicated" does not do it justice, but oh man, it has perks.
Brakes in studying turn into eating noodles at places where most of the gap year students cannot order yet because of the massive language barrier... or even stir the meal correctly (the waiters now know to mix it for us). Although we cannot articulate it, the owners know how much we adore this whole-in-the-wall miniscule Chinese restaurant. Practically fainting from the delicious, noodle-y explosions occuring in our mouths needs no translation. If I were to try and articulate to you what these godly bowls of wonder taste like, it would simply do the meal injsutice for I do not believe the vocabulary needed to do so exists to mortal humans.
Other perks include incredible trips to beautiful cities such as the one I had the pleasure of visiting: Yangzhou. If you have not heard of Yangzhou, it is best known for the fact that fried rice originated there.
Yes, I had fried rice. And yes, it was even more delicious than the noodles. (You didn't hear that from me!!)
The groups left in the early morning on Saturday and had the experience of taking bullet trains to one of four Chinese cities. Seeing my first blue sky in two weeks was an emotional experience for me, and for my phone. I have about 30 pictures dedicated solely to the baby blue sky and one or two clouds I could see. What a treat.
After eating about as much fried rice that could feed a small village, the small Yangzhou CIEE group of 20 made our way to two breath takingly beautiful gardens that looked a little something like this:
After these gardens we were able to find more fried rice as the moon started to rise in the sky.
The next morning we made our way to a little tea house with the most incredible tea I've ever tasted. I'm sure you've noticed I may exaggerate, just a little, but this tea needs no exaggeration. Here, look for yourself!
Even now when I look at it, a sense of euphoria pours over my body. That tea, is why I study so hard. So that I can buy every Chinese tea there is to buy, and no longer having to use Chinglish (Chinese- English).
We spent the last few hours in Yangzhou at a beautiful park full of places I just wanted to sit and think about how it is I got so lucky as to have the priviledge to visit places such as this one.
A quick bullet train back to Shanghai, and a wonderful surprise was awaiting us. A radiant blue sky! I could have cried. More pictures of baby blue skies on my phone, and I actually felt at home.
For the first time, I referred to Shanghai as home, and even felt a sense of comfort walking home from campus: making the familiar right turn onto the street outside of ECNU smelling something delicious I don't know the name of mixed with cigarette smoke and the sound of a Chinese man about to spit. Yep, I was home.
After some studying I went for a walk and noticed the nighttime brought one of the most incredible things I've seen; The Shanghai Star. No, this is not an official title for it (yet) but it's going to happen. The first clear night in Shanghai and I was fortunate enough to capture the only little star gracing the China night sky.
It's in the upper left hand corner... I swear. This picture of The Shanghai Star is a nice representation of my inner growth here in China.
No, you may not be able to see it from where you are. You may not even be able to see it in the picture. But I can see it, and believe me, it's there. Today was nothing but blue skies again, so I have a feeling the star can only get brighter from here.
To quote John Green, "I'm on a rollercoaster that only goes up..."
Until next time, lovely reader...