There is much to talk about in terms of reflecting on my experiences in Shanghai, both good and bad. However, this experience has fundamentally shifted my values and outlook on life. I think I had one of the most rewarding experiences just this past weekend. For my final project in my journalism class, I had to create a pictorial essay—basically just telling a story through pictures. I decided to do this assignment on an area in Shanghai that has 140 art galleries, M50. I went with a translator and I got to interview artists and gallery owners and I got to meet some of the most interesting people. There was one owner who would sold art solely by college and high school students so they do not feel discouraged from pursuing art. Everyone had their own interesting stories. This is something I wish I could have done more here, talk to locals. It’s very difficult with the language barrier and this was the first time I had a translator with me. However, if there were a few more times I could’ve had this same experience with locals, that would have been great.
One of my biggest problems here was with NYU Shanghai itself. As I mentioned in my previous post, the work load is very, very intense. I would suggest that they should make specific classes just for study away students who only have 4 months to explore Shanghai. Maybe these classes could be more involved in Shanghai itself. I also had an issue with the dorms being so far away. However, NYU Shanghai is fixing this problem and they’re working on building a dorm in a more centrally located area. Other than the school, the only other main obstacle I’ve faced in Shanghai is constantly getting led to places that do not exist or have closed down. I’m not sure what can be done to fix this.
It’s interesting, here I feel like I’m a bit of a spectacle. I am often stared at and people take pictures of me. I feel like at first I was uncomfortable but now I’ve gotten a bit used to it. That’s going to be something different when I go home. I think something that’s also going to be very different is how often I try to talk through gestures and with my hands. Because of the language barrier here, I often use elaborate gestures to explain myself. That will be something that I feel as though I will bring back with me to the states.
One of the best things about my time here are the people I surrounded myself with. I had an incredible group of friends who constantly enhanced all of my experiences. Even when I got led to places that don’t exist, or had to stay up all night to finish an essay, my friends were right by my side, helping me every step of the way. It will be nice when we are all back in New York, even though I know we will be busy with our own lives, we will always have this shared experience of being together in Shanghai.
While there are certain aspects that I’ll miss about Shanghai, I am very excited to be home with my family.