Here, There & Everywhere
I imagined that my semester in China, although culturally different, would still be structurally similar to my semesters in the United States. I couldn’t have been more wrong. One of the most exciting aspects of my journey to China has been the opportunity I have had to travel. East China Normal University, where I am studying, is located in Shanghai. So far, I have had the opportunity to travel to Wuzhen for a weekend, and Dalian for two separate trips. I expected each place to be similar, but they are all so different, and these cities in particular provide a picture of the diverse nature of the massive country of China (or at least the eastern regions).
Shanghai can be described in one word: massive. It is the biggest city in the country, and one of the biggest cities in the world with around 26 million residents. Shanghai is extremely developed and modern. Everywhere I have gone, many students talk about their dream to start a life in Shanghai. Because so many people want to come to Shanghai to work and live life, it makes the city very expensive and very crowded. There are at least 3 malls within 5 minutes of campus, and no shortage of delicious food at every turn of the head. The public transportation systems are very efficient and well-developed, making it very easy to travel all over the city. Shanghai is also known for being a very foreign city, so it is not uncommon to see Americans, and foreigners from all over the world everywhere you go.
Wuzhen is the complete opposite of Shanghai. It is a small water town a couple of hours bus ride from Shanghai. Although it is sometimes crowded with hordes of tourists, it has not been developed or modernized at all. Food is still delivered in boats that float outside the windows of residents’ houses. Many traditional manufacturing processes are still practiced such as indigo cloth, soy sauce, and silk. Traveling to Wuzhen is a refreshing reprieve from the constant hustle and bustle of Shanghai.
Dalian, my favorite city so far is the perfect combination of Shanghai and Wuzhen. Located to the north east, Dalian is about a 2-hour flight from Shanghai. Although still very developed and modernized, it is not nearly as massive as Shanghai. Streets are not crowded, and traffic is not as bad. Dalian is located within 20 minutes of the coast, so delicious seafood can be found almost anywhere for an extremely cheap price.
I have loved the opportunity to travel so much around the beautiful country of China during my time so far. I am looking forward to experiencing the cities of Hangzhou, Beijing, and Nanjing in my remaining time this semester.
Matthew M. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in Shanghai, China. He is currently a junior studying Global Business at Cedarville University.