Laney’s Reflections on Shanghai

by Laney ’17

We continued our day in Shanghai with shopping at Tianzifang. This marketplace was compact, winding, and crowded, much different than the broad avenues in other parts of the city. The labyrinth of shops contained every possible gift or trinket. We drifted from shop to shop, bargaining for and buying everything from tiny backpacks and trendy clothing to jars of tea and obscure instruments.

It was really interesting to see the Chinese interpretation of American brands. There were entire shops dedicated to knock off brands, and some were even misprinted and misspelled. Calvin Klein became “Colvin,” and Donald Duck became “nalddo.” This being said, I was shocked by how cool everyone dresses in these large Chinese cities. So many of the urban youth are effortlessly fashionable and avant garde in a way that  American fashion icons are constantly trying to emulate.

While we continued to migrate through Shanghai, I was struck by how much attention we attracted. Maybe half a dozen times, a random person will ask to take a picture with our group, and even more frequently we see cameras pointed sneakily in our direction. It is crazy to see how fascinating our diverse American group is to the homogeneous China.

Next on our tour of Shanghai we visited the financial district. We went to the 101st floor of the World Financial Center. The building was sleek and modern, much like those you would find on Wall Street. It was the tallest building I have ever been in, taller than the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building, and the view is amazing. We floated over Shanghai and precariously leaned against the glass.

We then headed to dinner. By now, we’re all exhausted from a jam-packed day and residual jet lag. We ate another delicious, traditional Chinese meal that was accompanied by the “sleepy haha’s,” which is the name for giggles that come from exhaustion. Even Cheng laoshi joined in on the jokes. Even though I am tired and jet-lagged, it is comforting that everyone else is in the same position as I am.

By this point, we are all beyond tired, but there is more of Shanghai to see! Our last destination is a boat tour that runs between two beautiful skylines of Shanghai. The view was truly spectacular, and it possessed a striking similarity to New York City. The skyscrapers were just as tall and grand, and the Yangtse played the Hudson.

This day in Shanghai made me realize how much there is to see in China. The global powerhouse city, Shanghai contains people and architecture similar to that in the US, but I am anxious to see what the rural areas and smaller cities hold for us. I hope the rest of the trip remains this rich and exciting.

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