Welcome Home

My last days in Shanghai are spent on a graduation trip with my study abroad program, on a trip to Tianzifang with Yan and Jess, and one last karaoke night with my intern friends, before finally making it home!

Hi, everyone! I am officially back in the United States, and I already miss China! Here’s a look at my past three weeks: my final days in Shanghai, my homecoming, and some culture shock upon arriving home. I’m in the process of writing two additional posts, one with final reflections and the other with thoughts on adoptees studying abroad in their birth country.

Thank you all for sticking with me throughout this journey! Please just hang in there a little longer while I wrap up this blog and say goodbye to this long, crazy adventure. 

Thursday, May 14th – Friday, May 15th 

On Thursday after our Chinese finals, everyone from the Alliance program piled into buses to take a graduation trip to Anji (famous for its bamboo forests). Three and a half hours later, we arrived and ate dinner. Then we all packed back into the bus and came to the hotel. Continue reading “Welcome Home”

The Beginning of the End

I’m back from my blogging hiatus! I’ve been studying like crazy these past few weeks, but I also had time to go to a club activity on campus and to go bowling with my internship friends! The end to my year abroad is near!

Hi, everyone! I’m really sorry for taking such a long, impromptu hiatus from blogging. The end of the semester has really had me running all over the city tying up loose ends and completing all my projects at the last minute. (How did I let myself procrastinate? Didn’t I learn from last semester?)

My favorite final was my Architecture and Urban Design projectI wrote a capstone paper on integrating sustainability into urban designs here in China. I tracked down five professionals who were willing to sit down for one-hour-long interviews with me, and I ran around the city to speak with them. That led to some interesting mishaps and adventures as I got lost trying to find the right office buildings in a sea of skyscrapers. Continue reading “The Beginning of the End”

Field Trip Report: 5

In my last two field trips of the semester, I visit an old-style lilong neighborhood for architecture class, and I head back to Chongming Island with my food class!

Friday, April 17th, 5:43pm

This afternoon, Non took us on our last field trip! The class met up at the West Nanjing Road subway station, and I could see the JUCCCE office nearby! When everyone was ready, Non led us to his old lilong neighborhood, Jing’an Villa. A lilong is a type of old-style alleyway house. Many of these neighborhoods are located in a prime location downtown and have been torn down to make way for newer skyscrapers.

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My overall impression of the area was that the houses looked a bit worn, but they really stood the test of time well. The alleyways gave the area a feeling of community (so many people sat around outside at tables chatting with friends), and the renovations to the interiors of some of the lilongs made the buildings feel downright modern. Continue reading “Field Trip Report: 5”

Field Trip Report: 4

During this week’s field trips, I eat hot pot and visit the Shanghai Film Park (built to look like Shanghai in the 1930s). I also explore Thames Town, a satellite town in Shanghai that’s a reproduction of England.

Friday, April 10th, 11:32pm


Today, Non invited everyone in the urban planning class to his penthouse apartment for a hot pot dinner and movie night! The hot pot was incredibly spicy (though Non insists that it was lacking 30% of its normal spiciness), and my tongue felt like it was burning the entire meal. Afterwords, I had to cool down with lots of ice cream.

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After dinner, we all watched a movie called Shanghai Grand. It was shot at the Shanghai Film Park, which is where we’re going on a field trip tomorrow. The movie itself was bizarre, and it had just as much blood and gore as a Tarantino movie. It was entertaining, but very strange. Continue reading “Field Trip Report: 4”

Happy Birthday to Me

On my twenty-first birthday, I get a surprise at work, visit the Shanghai World Financial Center to see the city lights, and toast (with alcohol!) to a new year!

Thursday, April 9th, 11:58pm

Happy birthday to me!

Today I turned twenty-one, which was definitely not as big a deal in Shanghai as it would have been in the States. I’m not really one for wild nights out (especially during the middle of the week), so I didn’t have a crazy party to celebrate. But it’s the little things that really count, and overall my first birthday in China was lovely!

I had a pretty normal morning filled with classes and my typical commute. I don’t really like to advertise my birthday, so I hadn’t planned on telling anyone at work that I’d turned twenty-one. The office found out anyway, and I got lots of birthday wishes! Continue reading “Happy Birthday to Me”

Joyful Yoga

On the last day of Qingming Festival, I meet up with my friend Joy and we try out aerial yoga together! We also get massages and take lots of selfies! It’s so good to be reunited!

Monday, April 6th, 8:20pm

What a fun Monday! Joy was back in town, so I met up with her to spend the afternoon together! Our first stop of the day was Chi-Qi, a yoga studio where I booked us for an aerial yoga class! As soon as we saw each other at the subway stop, we squeed and hugged for a really long time. It was so good to be reunited!

Once we arrived, I was impressed by the peaceful and welcoming atmosphere of the studio. It felt like it was taken straight out of New York or some other cosmopolitan, Western city. When we made our way into the classroom, the brightly colored hammocks were equally beautiful and terrifying. I felt ready for the challenge of aerial yoga, but also terrified that I was going to fall and break my nose. Continue reading “Joyful Yoga”

Field Trip Report: 3

These past few weeks, I’ve visited Lujiazui (the financial distrtict), Century Park, the French Concession, and an urban planning office during my class field trips!

Friday, March 13th, 6:34pm


This afternoon, I hopped on the metro and went downtown to Lujiazui for architecture class. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm, and everyone in the class was happy and upbeat, which made for a really pleasant field trip.

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From left to right: Tobi, random Chinese man, Hailey, Rachel, me, Katy, Katie, and Kelsey (photo by Non)

Non led the whole class to the elevated sidewalk, and we walked all the way to the next subway station. As I looked up, surrounded on all sides by massive skyscrapers towering overhead, I could easily understand why cities are often called “urban jungles.” During our walk, everyone in the class just took in all the sights (though Non wanted to try and reenact the scene from the movie Her). Continue reading “Field Trip Report: 3”

Rainy Day in the French Concession

On Saturday, March 14th, I explore the French Concession with my friend Jess! We go to the Sherlock Cafe, Suzhou Creek, and the M50 art district. Then we meet up with friends for KTV!

1. Sherlock Cafe


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Ever since I learned that there was an entire BBC Sherlock-themed cafe in Shanghai (complete with paintings of Benedict Cumberbatch), I’ve been dying to check it out. Today when I finally made it downtown, I was not disappointed!

The cafe was just too cute! It was styled like the Sherlock show, but it wasn’t an exact replica of any of the sets. There were just touches here and there, like the Sherlock wallpaper, quotes from the television show, and the British-style everything! Overall, it had a very nice atmosphere, but the coffee was just like any other coffee. Nothing special. Continue reading “Rainy Day in the French Concession”

Exploring Shanghai’s Jazz Scene

I visit the JZ Club in downtown Shanghai with friends! We grab a delicious dinner and then listen to live jazz music the rest of the night!

Friday, March 7th, 3:03am

This Friday, I decided to cross off an item from my Shanghai bucket list: visit a jazz club. So I recruited some of my amazing Alliance friends, Yan, Jessica, and Alinafe, to come with me to the JZ Club, a popular Shanghai destination for live jazz music.

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From left to right: Jessica, Yan, me

Around 7:00pm, Yan arrived at my apartment and the fun got started! She hung out in my room while I finished getting ready, and it felt like putting on my makeup before a high school dance. Jessica arrived around 7:20pm, and after taking a few pictures, we got on the road around 7:30pm.  Continue reading “Exploring Shanghai’s Jazz Scene”

Field Trip Report: 2

In my next round of field trips, I visit a Shanghainese-style restaurant, the old city wall, a temple, Shikumen alleyways, Yuyuan,

Tuesday, March 3rd, 11;43pm


For food culture class, we took a field trip to a restaurant near the Xujiahui subway stop an hour away. The lesson was on commensality (eating together with other people), so we carried out our in-class discussion over an actual meal (putting our new knowledge into practice).

Dessert that looked like little pumpkin cakes but was actually sticky rice balls with red bean paste
Dessert that looked like little pumpkin cakes but was actually sticky rice balls with red bean paste

We ate at a nice Shanghainese-style restaurant, and we got a course of cold dishes, a course of hot dishes, and then a course of starches. Yum. The food was super delicious (and mostly vegetables, which I’m really growing to love), so I ate a lot. We chatted about what we considered to be “eating out” and restaurant culture in Shanghai.  Continue reading “Field Trip Report: 2”