It has been a month since I landed in Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport feeling tired, nervous, and anxious. With little sleep after a grueling 13 hour flight thanks to several crying babies, nerves crept into my body from the realization that I was entering a country where I didn’t even know the language. Despite being tired and nervous, I mainly desired to just start exploring. And, in my explorations and observations of this city there have been five things that have stood out the most and have made a great impression.
1. The Weather
Walking on the jet way and into the airport towards baggage claim and customs, my first impression of the country was the weather. It was hot and humid. I was aware of the heat and humidity before I arrived, but in that moment I knew I was far away from home.
2. America in China
After grabbing my bags and successfully making it through customs, I met the people of TEAN and then headed over to Starbucks to wait for other arrivals. And, for the next several days, I was astonished by the sheer amount of Starbucks locations within the city. But, it wasn’t just Starbucks; it seemed like everywhere I went a McDonald’s or even a KFC location was not too far away. For the past month, it seems like in some ways I never left home from the sheer amount of American brands and products that are for purchase.
3. The Construction
No matter where I go in this city, construction for new apartments, offices, and other establishments are underway. But, what has impressed me the most about all this construction is the level of diligence and effort shown by these Shanghainese construction workers. They will work well past sunset and even work weekends. This past week was National Holiday, where many employees and businesses close down, but construction did not rest.
4. Finding Foods From Home
As a Mexican-American, I truly believed I would not have the ability to enjoy some ethnic foods like tacos (because of tortillas) and guacamole (because of the avocado). I simply assumed that attaining these products would be impossible, but within about a week, I spotted both items and shock overcame me. I must add though that some products have been rather difficult to find like Ginger Ale. In a country where ginger is a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine, I did not expect to have such difficulty finding a can of Ginger Ale.
5. The View
Despite my troubles in finding my favorite soda, my time in Shanghai has been rather pleasing and nothing has left a better impression on me than the skyline. This city is rather famous for its dazzling architecture and skyscrapers, but seeing and surrounding myself among these buildings is a completely different story. During orientation, TEAN treated us to a river night cruise which provided some amazing pictures and an wonderful experience. One of the pictures I took that night I have posted to show just how impressive Shanghai looks at night.
It has been a crazy and wonderful month so far, and I can’t wait to experience and explore more of Shanghai.