Rediscovering Shanghai

As my winter break draws ends and my spring semester begins, I visit new places in Shanghai that help me see the city in a new light: Tianzifang, Pudong, and the World Financial Center. I also volunteer at a TEDx salon!

Hi, everyone! I’ve spent the last couple of weeks on this blog talking about all my experiences out of the city I’ve come to call home. It’s not that Shanghai isn’t as vibrant as ever, but after living here for the past five months, the shiny newness of the city has sort of worn off.

On the one hand, I’m happy that I can navigate my way around the subway system like a pro and that my favorite restaurants know my order. But on the other hand, I’ve become a bit too comfortable sitting around my apartment watching television and eating lots of chocolate.

However, over the winter break I did have a few opportunities to break out of my routine and do new and exciting things in Shanghai! 

1. Tianzifang 

While I was living in the Rock and Wood International Youth Hostel, I met a girl who was sleeping in my same dorm, and we hit it off so well that we decided to spend the next day going around the city together!


We went to Tianzifang (a touristy part of the city famous for its refurbished alleyway style houses and artists in residence), and I had a lot of fun looking through the cute stores and strolling through the narrow streets.


We also went to a music college just to check out the campus. The school is located right in the French Concession, so a lot of the architecture was very European. The afternoon was a really nice way to  spend the day exploring the downtown area with a new friend!

2. TEDx Salon

During the winter break, I spent two weeks in Shanghai interning! The office was a flurry of activity as everyone prepared for the TEDx salon, which was going to bring together professionals in the field of urban planning and architecture to discuss ways to develop Chinese cities more sustainably.


Since building more sustainable cities is what I want to do with the rest of my life, I was understandably excited for the event. During the TEDx salon, I was in charge of clicking through the powerpoint slides, and I was so terrified that I’d mess something up and ruin everything. Luckily, everything went more or less according to plan, and it was a great event!


Working the TEDx salon opened my eyes to the professional side of Shanghai. I hope to one day attend events like the TEDx salon as a respected peer rather than just an undergraduate intern at the bottom of the professional food chain. That’s the dream!

3. Pudong and the World Financial Center 

My spring semester has finally arrived! Long gone are the days of lounging around with no homework to complete. But with a new semester comes a whole new batch of study abroad students!

I’ve been having a great time this past week and a half getting to know the new people in the program. It’s been really fun seeing the city through their eyes: as a new and exciting place to live. It makes me more excited to live in Shanghai, too!

One of the ways the Alliance program encouraged us to bond was by sending us out on a scavenger hunt around the city. My group and I were sent to the World Financial Center, which is located in Pudong (the east side of the Huangpu River).


I’d never actually walked around Pudong, so going to the World Financial Center was a totally new experience for me. Walking on the elevated pathways through the huge skyscrapers of the financial district, I finally understood the term “urban jungle.” It really felt like we were walking through a huge forest of ridiculously tall buildings.

The Oriental Pearl Tower
The Oriental Pearl Tower

Once my group and I made it to the World Financial Center, we decided to pay the 120 RMB to go up to the 100th floor observatory. Unfortunately, the air was pretty polluted that day (like it’s been almost all winter) so there wasn’t much visibility, but I think I got some decent photos in.


Looking at Shanghai from the top of the World Financial Center gave me a different perspective of the city, and now I’m more excited than ever to continue to check all my must-see items off my Shanghai bucket list. I’m ready to fall in love with the city all over again, and I’m hoping that this new semester will help me to experience the city in ways I’ve never experienced it before.

BONUS: Extra pictures from my last few weeks in Shanghai! I forget how beautiful the city is sometimes.

Tianzifang alleyways
Tianzifang alleyways
Building at the music college in the French Concession. I felt like you could see this building anywhere in the United States or Europe
Building at the music college in the French Concession. I feel like you could see this building anywhere in the United States or Europe
Smiles from the top of the World Financial Center! From left to right: Jessica, me, Tian Tian
Smiles from the top of the World Financial Center! From left to right: Jessica, me, Tian Tian

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