Travel Journal: China
After exactly one week at Tongji, I can safely say, “So far, sooooo good.” Putting aside my initial reaction upon entering the city, I was worried that once I arrived in China everything would quite spectacularly fall apart. Granted this fear was entirely unfounded, but still very real for me. My number one fear about the trip was going through all of the airport hassle. In order to keep my luggage under Delta’s (ridiculous) 50-pound weight limit for checked baggage and in order for my bags not to be left on the tarmac, I left quite a few unnecessary personal effects at home. So, during my first week in the Middle Kingdom I was prompted to dive head first into the ocean that is China’s shopping scene.
If China’s shopping scene is an ocean, then Shanghai is the Great Barrier Reef. With its numerous side-street stores, random markets malls, and underground shopping centers, it's a sea of merchandise populated with boundless, less-than-legal vendors who prowl the subway looking for unsuspecting foreigners to force their wares on. One thing that I wasn't prepared for was the amount of haggling I'd have to do to purchase the things I opted to leave at home. Personal discovery number one of this trip: I, Morgan Whitehead, am the worst haggler in all of China. It doesn’t matter what I’m shopping for, I always pay full price, if not over. I knew that things would be cheaper in China; I just didn’t know that sometimes I would have to argue my way to a cheaper price. My most recent interaction with a street vendor left me with both a bruised ego and bruised fruit.
Yet, each time, I continue to try strengthening my Chinese and weakening my pride with every overpriced item I purchase. Personal discovery number two: I, Morgan Whitehead, am awesome at trying new things. I've already eaten and explored a variety of random foods and places. Granted, not all of the foods were tasty, but at least I tried them. This week I've gotten lost going to Fuxing Park, eaten many a mystery meat, started my language classes, and taken the Metro all throughout the city. So I guess it doesn’t matter too much that I pay more than nearly every other customer at the fruit stand. I can’t miss an experience of a lifetime just because my stomach or my wallet may squirm a little at the sight. I've officially pushed all of my fears aside and I'm jumping head first into Shanghai life.
Elective classes and the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival begin next week!
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