- The Metro
Athough my first few weeks in Shanghai were spent grumbling on about the fact that it takes me (minimum) thirty minutes to get anywhere, I’ve learned to use my (extensive) time on the subway productively. Wherever I go, I’m sure to have the book I’m reading at that time on me, and suddenly my thirty minute commutes turn into five engrossing pages and an almost missed stop. This isn’t even mentioning the fact that it costs me 6RMB ($1) to cross Shanghai, (remember, this city is the size of the state of Rhode Island!).
- Produce Markets
Yes, I have been trying to eat healthier since I moved overseas, and the produce markets you can find on virtually every corner make that quite easy. For a fraction of the price of produce in America, I can buy fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs, even tofu and shrimp. Although visitors may be wary of the cleanliness and sanitation of said markets, a five minute walk is much preferred over a twenty minute commute to Carrefour for residents.
- Ohio State China Global Gateway
In a city where I have very few connections to my home life, the fact that the University I am now alumna of has an office located in Shanghai is amazing. Not only does the Global Gateway send out information on alumni events, such as game watch events (bloody marys and Ohio State football at 8AM Sunday morning – what could be better!?), but they also give me the opportunity to stay involved with OSU. This past Monday I was a representative for OSU at the Shixi High School university fair. It was quite an experience to see so many young, international students who, in most cases, had already heard of OSU and, in many cases, already were planning to apply! O-H!
- My AGIF Puxi Small Group
How lucky I am to have found a church that I feel so welcome at, and that has resources for me to further my faith outside of just church services. I was connected with a small group that usually meets just a few metro stops from my house, and that is filled with some really awesome people. Last Sunday I went to my first meeting. There were about nine of us, and we had some really great discussion – I was so comfortable immediately! It made me realize that I have always been lacking a friend group that has accepted let alone encouraged me to talk about my faith. Now I have that, and I already know I will be making some very close relationships with my new friends, while my relationship with God is strengthened!
Ok, so these carb and fat loaded buns of joy are not part of my clean eating plan, but that doesn’t mean I love them any less! They are the black sheep of my top 10 list, and even though I love them, I will only get one every two weeks or so. The baozi is a steamed bun with pork and vegetables inside of it, and the meat is g-r-e-asy. I think an accurate conversion for calories in to calories out would be one baozi (approx.. 4/5 bites) for every twenty minutes on the stair stepper(!!!). For that reason, I keep them as my special, occasional treat.
- Sprout Works
Although there are a ton of really yummy tasting foods that will add on two pants sizes, cause your cholesterol to skyrocket, and make you feel like an awful person for ingesting that into your body in general, (see number 5), Shanghai also has an amazing and expansive spread of restaurants to choose from. You could visit just one area and literally get whatever you wanted – Korean, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, American, Italian, you name it. Last week, I went to a restaurant that I sighted while I was in Xintiandi, named Sprout Works. Sprout Works is like a salad bar on steroids – and all of the food is so tasty. You start by deciding if you want to be ‘conservative’ and order half a salad (read: this ‘half salad’ fills up virtually the whole plate). I got the powerhouse salad, and went (again, ‘conservative’) with the smallest option for sides (two), and watched as my server piled soy sauce glazed sweet potoatoes and lentils with frisee duck onto my plate. Although there are further options (pesto salmon, lemon and basil chicken, soups, breads, etc), I exercised self control and stopped there. It was so tasty and for 60RMB, or $10, the take home box of leftovers was just an added perk.
- Second Chance Animal Aid
To be honest, I never would have expected an animal shelter-type organization in Shanghai. On the ten minute walk from the metro station to my apartment, I see on average three stray animals, and it’s pretty obvious that strays are just a thing here. However, the SCAA does provide hope and the prospect for potential forever homes to the few lucky animals that come to them. Plus, SCAA offer a great option for expats who are unsure about the amount of time they’ll be in Shanghai but who really want a cat! The SCAA doesn’t have a shelter by choice, which means that all the animals that come to them are placed in foster homes. It’s not difficult to apply to be a foster home, you really just need to have a love for animals and one Sunday every month free to attend Adoption Days (since there is no shelter, this is the main way animals are adopted). This past week, I was a ‘foster-foster mom’, watching a cute, fat, two year old tabby while her foster mom was out of town. Unfortunately, since I teach every Sunday, I can’t be a long-term foster mom, but with the holidays coming up, I won’t be surprised if I get a few more feline companions before the new year.
8. New Pathways
This seems like a kind of obvious one, but it wouldn’t be an accurate ‘top ten’ list if I didn’t throw my company in there. There are definitely some days and some classes that frustrate me, make me question my decision to teach, etc – but these are few and far between. For the most part, I love teaching and even more than that, I love the projects we are doing as a team here at NPE(can’t say too much about them yet!). Although I don’t really get to see people during the week, due to the different class schedule everyone has, I love Friday morning meetings because I get to catch up with the whole ELA team. Another thing that’s really cool is just how totally involved the ‘higher ups’ in the company are. The CEO of NPE can be seen walking around the office between classes, and the COO will take the time to thoroughly answer any question you have for him, at any point in time. It’s obvious they really care about their employees – which I learn to really value every time I go home and my roommate (who works for EF) can’t stop complaining about his day at work, coworkers, management, etc. To be frank, I quite like going into the office and coming up with lesson plans that I think the kids will enjoy. This weekend, I’m doing a fun activity (it involves candy!) to let them experience a little Halloween fun in class. Boo!
Mopeds are a highly favored mode of transportation around here – when it comes to China, versatility is key. Mopeds can weave in and out of traffic, transport people, supplies, groceries or animals, and can and will be seen not only on the road but on sidewalks as well. For pedestrians, mopeds are probably not as popular, but I will ride a moped whenever the opportunity presents itself. Usually, this is when I am on my way somewhere and can’t get the whole way there by metro or foot. Church is a good example, I take the metro all the way to the jinqiao station, but the church itself would probably take an hour to walk to! Many people who have made ‘moped-taxiing’ their business know when the metro line stops short of popular destinations, and they wait outside the station. I could take a taxi, but for the same price, I can take a moped and get Shanghai’s dirty, polluted wind in my hair and my life endangered – and who wouldn’t want that!!!
Of course, Facetime is not specific to China, but it is one of my favorite things right now, and will probably continue to be until teleportation is invented. I spend a good amount of time facetiming people back home (mostly my parents and my friend Reece), and it’s the closest thing I get to solving my homesickness. I guess I wouldn’t say I’m homesick necessarily, but I do miss home every day. It’s not a crippling type of miss, it doesn’t impact my day to day actions or decisions, but it’s always there, in the back of my head – the desire to be hugging my parents or petting my dog. Every Friday morning I have a facetime session planned with Mom and Dad, and every meeting I actually make, is an awesome hour or two spent talking with my favorite parents. With my friends, it’s more sporadic – but what initially was meant to be a fifteen minute check in, easily turns into two hours of chatting and laughing.