During elementary school, we learn about these ancient empires that seem so far away, but China is not some distant relative anymore; they are on centerstage. I could not contain my excitement to visit China and immerse myself in their rich cultural history that encompasses all aspects of life. Before landing in the sprawling city of Shanghai, I had not met many people from China, so I was excited to study social interaction. As part of the course, each student had to go having a particular topic in mind to study. Studying the way people interact in a society is a great way to get a better grasp on the social/cultural climate. People live different kinds of lives depending on where they live, so what better way than to conduct this form of study in China.
China is truly a vastly different society than in the US. When walking around, you find yourself in a sea of people and electric scooters. There was an inescapable feeling of community; we were all in this (life) together. Personal space is non-existent in China and you will find this out quickly. Don’t take offense if someone bumps into you and doesn’t apologize; this is just the culture. People need to get to where they need to go and so the best way is to get there efficiently. Similarly, eating in China is a community based activity. Most of the meals we enjoyed were presented on lazy susan’s which made many dishes available to all that were dining. As part of our cultural experience, the food was incredible and colorful and represented a particular vision by the chef. The best dish I had was a whole lotus root stuffed with sweet sticky rice and a sweet sauce over top; highly recommended! China is truly a foodie’s paradise; our group was lucky to have such a culinary experience.
The best sites to see were the Shanghai Tower, Terra Cotta Warriors, The Bund, and the Longmen Grotto. Shanghai Tower is the second tallest tower in the world with a beautiful view of the 26 million strong city. The Terra Cotta Warriors are a 2200 year old discovery made to protect the first emperor in his afterlife. No words can describe gazing upon the sea of hundreds of unique stone figures. City life in Shanghai is it’s strength so the Bund captured the desire to shop till you drop with countless shopping centers and small kiosks. The most powerful experience was at the Longmen Grotto with the large statues of Buddha; very humbling. Overall this trip has inspired me to travel more and move toward success.
Will Patterson is majoring in International Studies with a minor in Philosophy. He participated in a faculty-led trip to China through the Anthropology, Sociology, and Criminal Justice Department in July, 2018. Will had the following to say about his time abroad, “The more places you travel and the more people you meet; you will find that we all want similar things in life. We all want happiness and friendship; kindness is a universal language, so use it.”
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