Amidst such a busy schedule over the past couple of weeks – i’ve struggled to find the time to recount my Shanghai experience with a second blog post. Or ‘part two’ of the China Diary if you like. However, with a free evening at my disposal I can think of nothing better to do than to continue with the write up of my experiences whilst studying at Shanghai Normal University (thanks John Moores!) So, without further ado i’ll get straight back in to it.
Or maybe i’ll pause for a second. Because, if you’re reading this thinking ‘what is she on about?’ it may be worth giving you a little background knowledge in to this post.
What is my ‘China Diary’?
So, just over a month ago now I was lucky to jet off to Shanghai for two weeks thanks to the LJMU Global Opps programme. Whilst there, I was enrolled on a 2 week summer school placement at Shanghai Normal University. A diverse, welcoming and insightful place to study to say the very least. During my 2 weeks as a SHNU international exchange student, I was involved in Mandarin lessons (of which I will continue, by the way), lectures on e-commerce and business expansion in China as well as a number of Chinese Culture field trips and finally – a SHNU/LJMU partnership day to round off the experience.
Alongside the studying, there was a lot of sightseeing/exploring and that’s mainly what I want to relive through these blog posts. I saw so many incredible things and lived so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences. So recounting them through my writing allows me to look back on them with awe and also allows you all to learn what I got up to, too!
You can read all about my first week in Shanghai over on my ‘My China Diary – Part One‘ post, but for now; here’s what I experienced during my second week in this phenomenal city.
Sunday evening – …when we experienced more than we expected
I actually wrote about Saturday and Sunday last time, but completely forgot to include all of the things we actually experienced on the Sunday evening following our journey home from Wuhzen. (Truth is, we did so much it felt like a whole other day all together).
Once we got back from the water town, we decided to give Longhua temple one last go. Being one of the supposed most beautiful temples around and only 2/3 metro stops away, we wasn’t going to let a few failed attempts to visit put us off. Low and behold we’re glad we tried it again, as not only was it open when we arrived but it was stunning. Honestly this place was like a TARDIS, it was huge. And frankly, wasn’t what we was expecting at all. The residents of Shanghai are so lucky to have such an incredible place of worship right on their doorstep because honestly it was so dumbfounding that I could have stayed there all day.
After Longhua temple we set out on a mission to uncover a rooftop bar we’d been told about. After arriving at the metro station and seeking it out for what seemed like forever, we stumbled across something else instead. What we found was a ‘secret rooftop garden’ on top of one of Shanghai’s luxury malls. The views were incredible and I think all of us who were there were so glad that we found it – it was something truly special. Of course, pictures can never do beauty true justice, especially in this situation but nevertheless, i’ll share some with you anyway.
Monday – learning, learning, learning…
I don’t have much to share from Monday as it was one of our days that was filled with lectures. After learning about E-Commerce in China (something very interesting that i’ll definitely blog about at a later date) and having another 2 hours of Mandarin – we were pretty tired out.
Monday was when I realised that the concept of learning Mandarin is actually pretty simple. The pronunciation is super hard but we had a great lecturer to guide us through it. As for the general language however, I truly believe that with hard work I can grasp it. It was this day that I decided I want to pursue learning Mandarin. Maybe not straight away as I’ve a busy few months ahead, but in the foreseeable future for sure. It’s a skill i’d be proud to say I have.
I think we spent that evening working on our presentations for the LJMU China engagement day and then got one of our very few early nights of the whole 2 weeks.
Tuesday – our tour of Shanghai
Though we’d already seen the ins and the outs of the city pretty much, Monday was our designated ‘Shanghai City tour day’ with the whole group. We explored many parts of Shanghai, new and old. But for me (of course), what topped my experience was stumbling across a dog cafe (an unanticipated find but a very much welcomed one).
Our tour of Shanghai continued on in to the evening. After our penultimate visit of the day to the Shanghai Starbucks. (Which is a lot more interesting than it sounds; they literally make the coffee from scratch in front of you) we headed off to an acrobatic show.
Now, I wish I could show you what I experienced during the show. But seeing as I was too in awe to record any of the truly spectacular bits, you’re just going to have to take my word for it. The Shanghai acrobatic show was one of the best things i’ve ever had the pleasure of watching – it was full of unbelievable talent and encased a generally uplifting and feel-good vibe. If anyone reading this is headed over to Shanghai, I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Wednesday – Baosteel (and the best night ever)
On Wednesday we visited something that I thought i’d not be wholly interested in but actually in the end, very much was: Baosteel. One of not only China’s, but the whole world’s biggest steel manufacturers. They even manufacture the Chinese Yuan coin there, which I found really interesting. We got to explore the factory and enter the actual rooms where the steel was made, after it being 60 degrees (Celsius) in there we were actually pretty keen to get back outside to the 27 degrees-ish humidity we was used to.
Nevertheless, the trip was really insightful. Coming from someone who’s PR passionate and not so much business, I found it very, very interesting.
After visiting Baosteel we had our final lesson of Chinese language, I was kind of sad to see it end actually. After learning some common conversational phrases it was truly cemented to me that after leaving SHNU, I would still continue to learn the language. (In the hope of course that one day i’ll return to China).
That night, we experienced something i’ll never forget. Honestly – i’ll take it with me throughout my life. We went up the second tallest building, in the world. The Shanghai tower boasted having the tallest viewing platform of any manmade building which means that at one point I literally was on top of the world (figuratively and literally).
Again, you really need to see it to believe it, but here’s what I can share with you from this truly astounding experience.
It almost didn’t seem real, and although we had a good hour up the top of the tower – I could have stayed there all day and night. It’s one of those places where you’d never tire of the views.
Thursday – The LJMU China Engagement Day
Thursday was one of my favourite days by a stretch. We’d known about it for the duration of the 2 weeks but finally, the LJMU in Shanghai day was finally upon us. This was the day where all of the LJMU students who had visited Shanghai could showcase to the English and Chinese students alike what they’d been up to.
We had a fashion show from the fashion students, presentations from the business and engineering (&F1) students, plays from the nursing and history students, short films from the screen school students and finally – a football match between the LJMU sports students and the SHNU football team.
The whole day had one of those feel-good auras to it, the kind you have to live in to understand fully. I felt so proud of the LJMU students and the incredible work they’d undertaken over just 2 short weeks. It was truly engaging and entertaining; the only downside of the whole day was that it passed us by far too fast.
Friday – the closing ceremony
Friday was our closing ceremony and where we was awarded our certificates. Putting it in writing that we’d completed our Shanghai Normal University summer school.
It was a weird experience because it kind of felt like i’d been there a lifetime, but it also felt as though it passed me by too fast. Though I was excited to come home to my boyfriend, my friends and my family – at the same time I didn’t want to leave. The guys I was with had become my little family and it was so sad to say goodbye.
Nevertheless, after saying Zàijiàn to SHNU forever, we still wanted to spend our last hours exploring Shanghai. Our final proper night in the city saw us visiting a rooftop bar which gave us views we never could have comprehended. The setting was stunning and it really was a perfect way to round off the experience. And, what more, the lecturers that accompanied us on the trip even joined us too. It was nice to be together for our effective final night.
Saturday – Zàijiàn!
Though we had a full day on Saturday (that was left for us to use however we wanted) we did have a 3am flight the next morning which is why I saw Friday night as our last proper night.
On Saturday I headed back to the fake markets (my new favourite place mind) and then met the others so we could go and enjoy views of the Bund in the daytime. It was a place we’d visited many times, but never in the day (this is partly down to the fact that the sun sets super early in China). Though the smog and pollution was still pretty prominent, it’s still hard to deny that the view of the Bund is spectacular. Be it day or night, it’s a pretty cool place.
One thing we did all universally want to do was to get on a boat and travel across the Huangpu river (the river which the Bund sits alongside). When one of the SHNU students that was with us suggested a 2 yuan trip (which is the equivalent to around 30p) we were all for it. The trip, however, was interesting to say the least. What we’d actually boarded was a traffic boat that was strictly non-sightseeing. The best sights we got over to Lujiazui and the Bund was the back of other peoples heads, but nevertheless – it was still funny.
Learning from our mistakes we rushed to the front for the return trip and actually ended up getting a pretty surreal view. I mean, don’t get me wrong it was no luxury river cruise, but still not bad for the grand old total of 60p!
After heading back for an early night. I experienced a home from home, catching a bull statue alongside the Bund viewing platform. The Brummy in me had to get a picture, of course.
Then, after that – I headed back for an early night. My 2 week whirlwhind in Shanghai had drew to a close and what awaited us was another 26 hours of travelling back to normality.
I’ll never be able to properly put in to words my experience, so i’ll be forever grateful that I got to live it in the flesh. I know i’ll never do anything like it again, and I also know that the trip will benefit me so much moving forward in my career. For that, a thanks (or perhaps a few thanks) is in order…
My ‘thank you’s
Thanks to Bin, Emer, Sarah and Angela for being kind, for being patient and for being there for us. Because lets face it, even though we’re adults we did need looking after at some points ;).
Thank you to the SHNU lecturers, students and of course the head of China engagemnt Julia Wang, I doubt they’ll see this but they deserve a thanks nevertheless.
And, finally, thanks to the LJMU Global Opps Team. I know you’ll be reading this so thank you so much. Granting me this experience was the perfect way to round off three incredible years at LJMU. I’ll never forget the trip or the things I learned and it truly is something that I know is going to set me up for life. When i’m fluent in Mandarin in a few years, i’ll give you a call (haha!)
This trip was something I never expected to end up on. I mean, I never thought i’d be so lucky. Had you have told me a year ago that i’d have done 2 weeks in Shanghai i’d have told you never. But, one year on and here I am! Obviously now, the sky’s the limit and I can only hope to return to the remarkable country of China in the near future.