Deep-fried pork ribs crusted in cumin, pan-fried noodles smothered in thick soy sauce, steamed buns filled with fatty brisket, and Chinese crepes layered with cilantro and fried wontons. This, in a nutshell, is what I’ve been consuming since returning to Shanghai a few months ago.
Needless to say, I’ve been feeling a bit “fluffy,” as my mom and I like to say. (It sounds so much nicer than “fat” or “pudgy,” don’t you think?)
As a quick fix, and to put me back on the right track, I decided to do a juice cleanse. That’s right, a juice cleanse. As in, nothing but juice. For three days. Continue reading →
Last weekend, new bike tour company Culture Shock invited me for a four-hour morning ride around Shanghai. Officially open for business later this week, the long-term French expats have been running special media tours in order to work out its kinks.
As of now, the company runs two tours: one in the morning (9am-12:30pm) and one in the afternoon (1pm-5:30pm). Both begin at the Eclair Cafe in theXintiandi Andaz Hotel, where you receive a complimentary croissant or pain au chocolat and coffee/tea, and end at the same place. The tour gives a pretty good feel for the surrounding area ( approx. 10km), as well as some insight into Chinese culture. Here’s a look at my experience:
I’ve always considered myself a city girl. The sound of buzzing neon lights, the energy of people as they crowd the sidewalks, the ability to get a slice of pizza at 3am on a Tuesday. As someone who grew up in Small Town, U.S.A, the thrill of moving somewhere bigger–somewhere better–was not only a dream, but a necessity.
So here I am, in what seems to be the world’s largest city–Shanghai. Population 25 million. Complete with humming motorbikes, all-night street food, and subway cars resembling the inside of a sardine can.
I’ve lived in quite a few apartments over the years–thirteen to be exact. I’ve lived in studios, junior one-bedrooms, a house, even a sorority house. I’ve rented places in Florida, Washington, D.C., Seoul, and Bogota. So I thought finding a place in Shanghai, especially after living here for a year (in school housing) would be no different. I was wrong.
Shanghai is a bustling city, with a population of 25 million. That’s right, I said 25 million. People come here from all over the world for business, as it’s a global financial center and a major transportation hub. Needless to say, hotels are always booked, and realtors make a pretty decent living. There’s some hefty competition for apartments, though, and they go fast. I learned this the hard way. In fact, I learned a lot of things over the last few weeks–about Shanghai, the housing market, and myself. But don’t worry, I’ll save the lessons on personal growth for a phone call with my mother.
As an expat, there’s nothing more exciting than having friends and family visit. You get the opportunity to show off your new home, introduce them to a new culture, and hopefully convince them that you’re not completely insane for living abroad. However, there’s also a flip side. It can be quite stressful having guests, especially if you live in a non-English speaking country and plan to spend some of their vacation working, leaving them to their own devices.
Earlier this week, my friend Matt, a reporter for China Daily, asked me to provide some quotes for an article about life as an expat in Shanghai. I gave him my views on the easy transition and the similarities and contrasts from my time in Colombia. I thought nothing of it and assumed he would weave a line or two into his text; but apparently I was quoted heavily enough to warrant a picture in the paper. Not having anysolo pictures of me galavanting through the streets of China, I scrambled to get something together and asked a coworker, Maja Kelly, to take some photos after work, around the neighborhood.
I never expected to live in China. In fact, China wasn’t even on my radar when considering international teaching jobs. This wasn’t because of the long plane ride home (although that does suck), or the strange food and customs (let’s be honest, this is what intrigued me). My aversion was strictly environmental: I was scared to death of the pollution.
But, as I’ve learned during my time abroad, nothing is what it seems, and you really have no idea about the reality of a place until you actually live there.