Finally, The End is Here

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 15. Farewells, Shanghai by Irina1 Comment

As my semester abroad in Shanghai draws to a close, the only thing I can think about is how much I can’t wait to be back home in Illinois.

Looking back on my time here is difficult- mostly because I spent most of my waking hours working in the school building and can only remember a blur of projects, papers, and deadlines. I now see that NYU Shanghai was not the best choice for a study abroad experience. I had a great time studying here for the summer because I took Chinese and Journalism and they also offered a trip to Beijing. However, coming here for a semester was far different. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I gained much from the academics at NYU Shanghai other than stress. Indeed, I’d have to say that this semester was defined by dissatisfaction.

I really hope NYU Shanghai can create a better study abroad community because I’ve heard many complaints from fellow visiting students. I would recommend a more curated list of study abroad-specific events and trips established early on in the semester. I think there should be a required class specifically for study away students that would meet once a week to take trips to various places in Shanghai to learn more about the culture and history of the city. There are definitely improvements that can and should be made.

I bid Shanghai farewell with the heaviest of hearts. I did not have the time to explore nearly everything I wanted, nor did I have the time to truly enjoy my time here. It will probably be years and years until I return to the city and by then I know it will have changed dramatically. While I might visit, I’m not sure I can live in such vast and busy city. I think the most rewarding part of my time here was stumbling upon little treasures I had never heard about. I’ll remember walking down randomly beautiful roads and drinking coffees in nice cafes as well as playing with all the stray animals for years to come.

While I’m excited to be home for Christmas, I’m not sure how I’ll feel returning to New York City after a year away. I think my time abroad has made me realize that there are other ways of life worth living other than what I’ve been taught to believe. I’m afraid to that I’ll find New York less charming than I thought it once was.

Lastly, I’d like to thank this course for making me slow down and think about my experience abroad. Writing down my thought has definitely helped me understand what living abroad really means and has been a great outlet for reflection. I wish I had heard of this course sooner, so I could have taken it while in Prague but I’m glad to have been a part of this blog. It would be great if there was more student interaction within our online community, though I’m not sure how it would be fostered. I feel like we’ve all been like pen pals this semester and it would lovely to have a follow-up in New York.


  1. Hi Irina,

    I hope you find yourself home safe in Illinois, free from stress and surrounded by good company. I have absolutely loved reading your posts all semester, and as you so nicely put it, being your ‘pen pal’. I completely agree that we should have a follow-up, even if we all just meet for coffee in the city one day 🙂

    I’m sorry Shanghai has been a little tough for you. Two of my suitemates in Berlin actually study at the Shanghai campus full time, and they often spoke of the site’s underdevelopment. Nonetheless, I respect the way you bravely gave the city a shot – remember to give yourself credit for taking on the challenge; the language, the culture and the lifestyle are so starkly different from New York, and you immersed yourself in it head on. Be proud of the way in which you found beauty in a place that wasn’t what you were expecting; when you look back, I hope your memories are colored with those special, small moments.

    Have a wonderful break! You deserve it.

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