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Experiencing a new culture and getting out of your comfort zone. How could it possibly be guaranteed better than by working abroad?
During my integrated bachelors program at Continental I was able to spend an assignment in Shanghai, China. For me it was the first time going to Asia and I didn’t know what to expect. In this blog entry I want you to get an impression of my first days in Shanghai, difficulties and special experiences.
Arriving mid of June, the first thing I noticed was how warm Asia is in the summer. Temperatures of 35°C and the incredibly high humidity felt really warm to me as a European. On the taxi drive to my apartment I was already surprised and amazed by Shanghai’s different appearance: Skyscrapers everywhere, countless people of all different nationalities and this weird smell everywhere caused by the smog. Everything was quite exciting alone in a 24 Million citizen town. I arrived on a national holiday, so the town was comparably empty.
Life in Shanghai
Shanghai is a very young and vivid city. There are a lot of international students, an active nightlife and every day you’d be able to find a new restaurant or a new club. In addition to that, Shanghai also offers a variety of different cultural spots and sights, like the Yuyuan Garden , the Bund, huge temples and parks, as well as the different districts. I lived in Jing’An, which is popular for expats and foreigners and in walking distance to all the important and famous spots downtown. My apartment was on the 17th floor of a skyscraper, offering an amazing view over Jing’An. I shared the apartment with some flatmates, including one German student. Besides living together we also did some trips outside of Shanghai, went to a gym near our apartment and cheered for Germany in the worldcup (unfortunately a short worldcup for Germany). Even though none of us were able to speak Chinese, we got pretty good at communicating – mostly supported by a lot of gestures and we tried to learn as much Chinese as possible.
It never gets boring in Shanghai and everyday we were able to discover something new.
Because it was summer and a lot of Chinese people took their yearly holiday, Shanghai was incredibly crowded. In the metro you usually stood extremely close to other people, just like you would imagine it to be in China. Especially the sights were so crowded, there was no chance to get there. That’s why I did several trips out of Shanghai, like to Suzhou, the gardencity, the former capital Nanjing, Moganshan, a popular destination to escape the city (also known as the Hamptons of Shanghai) or to Hangzhou to the famous Westlake visiting old Tea Villages. Furthermore I visited Qibao, an old part of Shanghai with a Chinese friend. Here we tried out all different kinds of traditional special food, like stinky tofu, pig’s feet, all kinds of dumplings, guts on sticks and a lot more. Trying some of these specialties cost me a lot of willpower because they were so different from what we eat in Germany – but how often do you have the chance to try out a pig’s foot or a thousand year old egg?
Due to all those interesting and special experiences time in Shanghai was rushing. Last month I visited Shanghai again, experiencing how beautiful the city is in winter. I can highly recommend to gain your own experiences in Shanghai and to visit as many special spots as possible, mostly off the track to get an insight into the life away from the tourist attractions.