The first few weeks abroad were incredible—full of new experiences and new people. The very first week I was so excited to be in Shanghai and I took everything in. It’s funny to look back at the first day in Shanghai, tired after not sleeping on the 13-hour plane ride, but following our roommates around everywhere they took us while we setup for life in China for two months. I remember feeling so disoriented in our new surroundings and not quite understanding where we were in relation to the school. However, after about two weeks or so, I got used to the area and by about week four I felt like a local because I better understood how to get around on the subway without having to look up directions.
The first weekend we were there our program sent us and our roommates all on daytrips to different places. My group went to Ningbo where we went to a museum, then rented out a little boat on a pond where we took in the sights of a cute park. This was followed by dancing in a pavilion with some older Chinese people. I loved the little excursions that we took like this, or when the students on the program rented out a boat on the Bund for the fourth of July, because it meant that we all bonded with each other. My last study abroad was all Pitt students so this study abroad was really interesting because not only did we meet a bunch of Chinese students who were our roommates, but I got to make friends with students from other schools in the US.
I also remember during the first two weeks we went to the Bund and Lujiazui, the financial district where the Shanghai Tower (the world’s second tallest building) is located. All of the buildings were lit up and that’s where we had a real, “wow, we’re in China” moment. It had hit me when we had first landed and left the airport, as well as when we first got on campus, but seeing the Pearl Tower lit up at night right after we exited the metro station was different and even more awe-inducing.
One of the reasons I love study abroad so much is because everyone knows that we only have a finite amount of time to experience everything, so we do a lot of interesting stuff in a short period of time. The first four weeks this was difficult because our International Marketing class was a three-credit class abbreviated into about a month. We had so many readings, projects, and a mid-term or final always around the corner and as a result didn’t have too much time to explore those first few weeks. But, once we were done with that class, we had time to do things like study in the largest Starbucks in the world, or even go to Beijing. Those first few weeks, though busy, were so much fun and I wouldn’t change a thing!