Travel Journal #1 – Whirlwind of Colors & Sounds

These past two days in Shanghai have been a whirlwind of colors and sound. I can hardly breathe from all of the different fragrances of the city. Stepping off of the 14-hour flight into the airport, I was swept into the hustle of baggage claim and Chinese customs. These initial moments of confusion had me seriously doubting my choice to study abroad in China.
students at the Louisville Airport However, when Next Step China collected our group and we were driven into the city, I was sure that I’d made the right choice. From the highway, Shanghai unfolded before us in the afternoon heat. It was nothing like I had pictured. While it has its fair share of skyscrapers and certainly no shortage of people, the city seems to hold onto something accommodating in its hectic streets. Shanghai, as I was told upon entering the city, is quite international—there are plenty of foreigners living, working, and learning in the city. You can find food from nearly anywhere, and it can be found on various street corners. The feeling of home-away-from-home is tangible to me although the city is still so foreign.
Tongji University is a city itself compared to Centre’s campus, but no less beautiful with its widespread foliage and modern architecture intermingling with traditional Chinese buildings. The dorm rooms are small, but the first-class view of the city makes up for it tenfold. On my first night I couldn’t help but sit and watch the lights and people scramble beneath my window before I fell asleep. I can already tell this is going to be a great form of procrastination for me.
It’s now my second full day in the city and I’ve already taken the Metro to explore Jing’an Temple, spoken some Chinglish (mix of Chinese and English) with the locals, and bought a snazzy new scarf (it has Shanghai residents’ favorite form of transport on it—bikes!). Language class will start next week, which means that I can no longer hide how bad my Chinese has gotten over the summer break. But it also means that I’ll finally get to meet new people from outside of the Centre bubble. It’s been easy for all of the international students to band together with their own groups since classes haven’t begun yet, but I’m hoping that class will help us all branch out. My feet are aching after all of the walking I’ve done the past few days but my heart is full.
These first few days have been so incredible that I can’t wait to see what next week holds.
by Morgan Whitehead ’15, currently participating in the Centre-in-China study abroad program. Learn more about study abroad in China.
PHOTOS: The chalk writings of a Chinese man wishing the entire world a happy mid-autumn festival (top of page); at the Louisville airport with my classmates before our flight to Asia (above right).

By |2013-09-06T14:12:07-04:00September 6th, 2013|News, Study Abroad, Travel Journals - China|