Roller Coaster Ride

In Shanghai, The Art of Travel Fall 2014, Farewells by Andrew Eisenson

Shanghai has been a roller coaster of both emotions and experiences. It has pushed me to the limits of exhaustion, fear, and stress, yet has also offered mesmerizing beauty, relaxation, and happiness. Shanghai is a city where one day it can be a clear blue sky and 75 degrees and the next day pollution can be at level 450 and you can’t see ten yards in front of you. Shanghai is a city where each day must be approached as it comes. In the past four months I have learned more about the world and more about myself than I could have ever imagined.

I didn’t really expect much when I came to Shanghai. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I was ignorant I really didn’t know anything about China and I never really interacted with Chinese people. Also, I never really shared this, but I really didn’t know the people I was living with. I had gone out with most of them before, but never really talked to them on a personal level, a level that should be known before you decide to live with people. As it turns out, my roommates are some of the best and most interesting people that I have ever met. They are intellectual, focused, yet know how to unwind and have fun. As it turns out, I am actually going to live with two of them when I return to New York. Not only have I met some of my best friends, but I’ve also learned a lot about myself. I think I have found what I am interested in, and what I want to do next summer, which is incredibly important.

Okay, but now back to China and Shanghai. The past four months was a very humbling experience. I’m writing this last post from the basement of the academic center while I watch a group of local Chinese portal students play ping pong, and some made-up dodge ball type game. As I watch them (and wish they would ask me to play), I began to think about all of the things I have learned about them since I have been here.  To me, the most interesting aspect of life here that I have learned is that the people are truly run by the government. The CCP, the head of the Chinese government, really have their hand in all aspects of life in China. When I first got to China, I had always been taught that communism and socialism are bad and it must be eradicated from political systems across the world. But now, after living in Shanghai and experiencing China, I don’t agree. The way that the CCP runs the government is the most efficient and practical way to run a country with the internal dynamics of China. Sure, things could be done differently, but nothing is perfect, and I believe over time things will get better in China.

On a more personal level, Shanghai has been an incredible experience. This semester has it its ups and its downs, but overall I am very happy that I took this opportunity and came to China. Being in Shanghai really took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to try new things and look at the world from a different perspective. Being forced out my comfort zone allowed me to grow as a person, both mentally and physically. Sure there are things that I wish I did differently, like travel more and immerse myself in the culture more, but there is no reason to waste time regretting things. I guess it just means that I will have to come back here soon, which I plan on doing within the next 3 years.

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