Reflections About Shanghai

Tomorrow I am hopping on an airplane to Beijing to film for another TV show, Chinese Bridge Competition. I am only going to be a part of this show from July 30th until August 10th, but I am looking forward to days of paid hotels and food! (Yes, I am truly cheap and enjoy the free things in life!) The Chinese Bridge is an international Chinese language proficiency competition, for non-natives only of course. So the premise is, each country sends one or two college students to compete in China and the top 6 contestants receive three years scholarship to study in China. I had prepared for this show for about 6 months, I went through a preliminary contest for the state of Florida, got first place, and then went to Texas to compete for first place in the Southern Region. I tried my hardest, and up until the last contestant I was a shoe-in for first place, which would mean I would get to compete from the beginning and have a chance to have my parents fly over for free, but the last contestant was a white girl who half-way grew up in China…what were the chances right?! She was a really sweet girl though, and her Chinese was obviously amazing, so I had no hard feelings. I won second place though and therefore am getting a free trip to Beijing. It would’ve been a free round-trip from the States, but I’m already here 😦

Anyways, Shanghai is a mix of the modern and old, the area of our hotel is in an area famed for having buildings dating back to the early 1900s, and you can really tell. Last week, Diana, Luke, and I even went to the hotel that used to be a Gentleman’s Club, one that Ulysses S Grant spent time in… yes, the Civil War’s Ulysses S Grant (If you don’t know, now you know~). There are sections where it was obviously built during the British occupation of Shanghai, and others that are beautifully lit by modern lights and architecture. Really interesting, but to be honest there are more cons then pros, I have heard stereotypes about the south before but now I guess I get to confirm some (These are all based from my own personal experiences!). It is true, men really ARE tiny here! At least twenty times a day Diana and I scream at the height or waist size of a passing “man”, from the back some of them look like pre-teens. I feel bad saying this but it’s true. Back when I had only been in Northern China, whenever my American friends would ask me, “Aren’t all of the guys super short there?” I would always respond with, “Surprisingly, no there are some shorter than me, and some taller, just like in America. Now I know why the national height average is so low, no offense, but the southern guys are bringing them all down! Another stereotype about people from Shanghai is that they are superficial, at least compared to northern China, and it’s true as well. Girls here wear more short shorts, high heels, and tank tops than I’ve ever seen before. Also, everywhere you go in Shanghai is a shopping mall…I’m not joking, we go to the People’s Square and find that it’s a mall, go to a garden, turns out to be a mall, go to a park and it turns out to be the biggest mall I’ve ever seen in my life! Literally, 2 basement floors and nine stories above ground, about the size of a football field, not to mention the world’s longest commercial street is right here in Shanghai. Great for all you shopaholics out there, but not so fun for us on a college budget. Stereotype number three? That people from Shanghai are less friendly, I can definitely see the credence in this stereotype. I think Shanghai people remind me greatly of New Yorkers, it’s not that they are rude, but that they are more into themselves or what they are doing. So there were not many conversations with taxi drivers or random new friendships like I get in Shandong Province. I had a great time, but I can honestly say I prefer Beijing and Qingdao a lot more.

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