The Final Chapter

By: Connor and Michael

It’s time for us to go. After two amazing weeks in China, we are heading back to the US. Shanghai has had so much to offer us, and everyone found something great to do during our free time in the city. From the tourist shops of Nanjing Road, to the real shops of Huaihai Road, to the cafes of the former French Concession, to the skyscrapers of Lujiazui, Shanghai was not short of fun places to go, and these few days were definitely not enough to see the city. So for many of us, Shanghai will be a repeat destination.

Michael and Piper say hello to the window-washers at the Shanghai World Financial Center Observation Deck, more than 1,500 feet above the ground

Throughout the trip, the China that we found was not always the China we expected. But everywhere we went, we found something worthwhile and new. The mud of the farming village we visited seemed a long way from Shanghai, but we had been there only a few days ago. All of us saw so many different sides of the same country. For those of us who have been to China before, we all leave with a new appreciation for its true scope and diversity. And for those of us who had never been there before, this trip was a whirlwind introduction.

The students of GEA China 2017 raise a toast at the final banquet in Shangha

On our final night, in the cosmopolitan metropolis that is Shanghai, we ended the trip the way we began it. Our GEA team, including Professor Sheehan and his wife, had a banquet consisting of just an absurd enough amount of food to satisfy an army, including dumplings, duck, and a variety of other Chinese dishes. Everyone at the dinner took turns praising one another and toasting Professor Sheehan, culminating in a major group toast at the end. During this intimate dinner, we were offered the opportunity to reflect on our time in China, and in doing so, simultaneously reflect on the growth we experienced, ultimately coming to the conclusion that our growth was fueled by the diversity and adversity we faced together. From the alleys of Shanghai, to the Paul Witt Hotel, to the 100th floor of the world financial center, I can confidently say that Global East Asia China was an experience that we will all never forget.

Shanghai style Shengjian Bao at the final banquet – a (delicious) local specialty

Unfortunately, leaving Shanghai was not quite as easy as getting there. As we split off to go to our various destinations, most of us encountered some sort of weather-related delay. After two weeks of spectacular weather in China, our luck finally ran out, and the Shanghai wet season decided to begin on the day that we were due to fly out of Shanghai. The group headed back to Los Angeles was even stranded on the tarmac for almost three hours — enough time for a movie or two.

This trip has given us a lot – places I never thought I’d go to, friends I’m so glad to have met, and the most satisfying Popsicle I’ve had since I was 6 or 7. But now, as we arrive home and our jet lag begins to do battle with our exhaustion, the only things we can do are to thank the East Asian Studies Center and its incredible staff and teachers for creating such a mind-opening trip for us and to hope that next year’s group has just as great a time as we did.

Signing Off

-Michael and Connor