Arrival in Shanghai

By Danielle Then and Grace Mi

The first day of our trip was very hectic but our TA, Carlos, came to the rescue, earning the nickname “Mama Bear.” 

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From that point, everything was smooth sailing (or flying, rather) as most of the students napped or watched the free films Asiana Air provided on the way to Incheon. Landing at the airport was akin to landing in a cloud, and the view was spectacular. After enjoying Korean barbecue in Korea, some students preferred the back of their own eyelids, however.

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Upon our arrival in Shanghai, we had our first Chinese family-style meal, served up on a lazy susan. Professor Sheehan taught the class the first thing about banquet etiquette by giving a toast. We were then shown our home-base for the next month, and  everyone went out with Professor Sheehan and bought cellphones. We returned to Fudan, at which point most students went to sleep. Some of the more adventurous students went out to see the city, some even venturing as far as the Bund.

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The next morning was free for more adventure, and all of the students got together at 2 p.m. to visit Sichuan Road, a historically Japanese area of Shanghai to “find globalization.” It wasn’t long before all of us students realized that we’d be spending the next month trying to figure out what that word, “globalization,” meant. The area was full of a lot of things that most of the students were very curious about (for instance, “how did this Japanese district end up in the middle of Shanghai?”). We took many pictures for our first day of class, in which we would be presenting our take on “globalization.”

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The day was quite rainy, so we got back together for an early dinner and to finish our assignment for the first day of class.

For the first day of class, we discussed a little bit of Chinese and global history to put our projects in context, presented our projects, and discussed globalization. For an interesting point, we looked into the creation of museums and what it means to be a tourist. The class presented their analyses on Sichuan Road, which resulted in some entertaining conclusions (Carlos is a K-pop star, apparently).

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We also had our first day of language class, which turned out to be hilarious, given that a number of the students in the class already speak Mandarin, and given the accents of the students who do not. During our second day of class, we covered more global Chinese history and continued our discussion of museums into the creation of traditions and what those traditions mean about culture. The second language class went much more smoothly and by the end of it, almost everyone could count to one hundred.

By the end of the second day of class, we were all still in shock about being in China and looking forward to the adventure ahead!