A Summer in China ends: My Reflection

I have been back in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for about eleven days now, and I still tear up sometimes thinking about China. Studying abroad in Shanghai, China, was the biggest learning experience of my life. Not only did I learn great knowledge from my fantastic professors, but I learned a lot about life by being in a foreign culture. As I expected, studying International Marketing in another country gave me another perspective on business. Learning Chinese language was challenging and interesting, and I was able to use it everyday in the city. Tai Chi also helped me grow both mentally and physically. It taught me how to slow down and appreciate every moment, while also focusing on the little movements of the body. I benefitted greatly from all of my classes. I also gained life experience by living in the biggest city in the world, having to make new friends, and figuring out my around as a foreigner. Shanghai stole my heart. I am ready to advance in Chinese language, start applying for better internships and job opportunities, and all around improve my skills as I am about to be a senior in college and I am ready to move up in the world. While in Shanghai, I met several expats who were involved with business. All of them had such impressive experience, focus, and drive. They inspired me to work even harder and to not limit myself on what I can do. Studying abroad in Shanghai has given me the knowledge and inspiration to take my career so much further than I ever imagined. I want to thank all the people that helped me embark on this journey. Without your support I would never have had this once in a lifetime opportunity. Thank you to the donors, University of Arkansas, my family, and my friends. And thank you China, for welcoming us as guests in your country 🙂 I will be back as soon as I can, hopefully to work in Shanghai!

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This is one of my favorite pictures of Emily and I 🙂 She and I became very close on our journey together. I love her and will hopefully see her sometime in the States.

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I had my friend take this picture of me after the first day of being in Shanghai 🙂 I did not know how deeply I was about to fall in love with that city.

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Week 6: Beijing Tour

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A typical alleyway in Beijing 🙂 This city has lots of character. Even though I was more attached to Shanghai, I really enjoyed Beijing.

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Another alleyway shot. I like the strange vehicle on the right, along with the ever present red decorations. The color red is symbolic of good fortune in China.

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Here is one grand entrance to Tiananmen Square.

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We frequented this street during our stay. This is a very pretty shopping district.

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I snuck a shot of some locals talking outside of a little store. I enjoyed being around so many people who spoke a different language than me. Also, the locals were always so kind to us. Nothing like feeling welcome in a faraway country!

Week 6: Beijing Tour

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Welcome to the Summer Palace! It was first constructed in 1750, ruined completely during the 1800’s, then rebuilt in 1886.

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This temple is probably the most famous site in the Summer Palace. The palace has several different areas within it, but this is the iconic view people think of.

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Oh the gorgeous lake and mountainside 🙂 That temple is the Tower of Buddhist Incense.

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The design, colors, and architecture of this temple amazes me. Chinese architecture and style is very pretty to me.

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We walked quite a while to get to this spot, but the view ended up being worthwhile.

Week 6: Beijing Tour

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Here is a woman making Chinese pottery. We got to take a tour of this factory before dinner.

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An example of the finely painted pottery this factory offered 🙂 such good artists.

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This is the entrance to the Ming Dynasty Tombs. There are 13 Ming tombs located here, and the area was chosen in the early 1400’s.

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A view of the most famous tomb there 🙂 this entire site was so beautiful and serene.

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Once we walked up to the top of the tomb area, we were awe-struck with this magnificent view. The countryside in Beijing is beautiful.

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There’s me standing next to the most famous Ming tomb 🙂 This is a symbolic marker for the tomb. The real burial is deep under the building.

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Driving back from the Tombs, we stopped at the Sacred Garden. There were statues like this one in a line all the way to another tomb. I love elephants!

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After the Tombs, we saw the Beijing Acrobatics show. This is the only photo I have from the evening because we were not allowed to take pictures of the performance. Oh well, they were amazing!

Week 6: Beijing Tour

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The grand entrance to the Temple of Heaven. This entire area was devoted to emperors and religious members of society. They prayed to the god of heaven, the god of earth, the god of water, and the god of war.

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This is the Circular Mound Altar. They were big on sacrifices and all kinds of gods.

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This is the Imperial Vault of Heaven. To walk up and see inside meant waiting in a very long line, which we did.

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This is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. I appreciated the intricate designs on all of these religious buildings.

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After the Temple of Heaven, we visited the Pearl Market. Obviously, they had several stands selling pearls like these, but there were also several souvenir stands.

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Here’s a shot of my friend Emily haggling with this woman on the price of some scarves. Haggling, or arguing the price, is the way of business in these markets. Honestly, it can be quite fun 🙂

Week 6: Beijing Tour

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Tiananmen Square 🙂 This the political center of the city, as well as all of China. Capturing the size of this square in a photo was impossible. I believe it is one of, if not the, biggest city square in the world.

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Another shot of Tiananmen Square 🙂

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Here is the entrance to Forbidden City. A picture of former Chairmen Mao Zedong is above the front entryway.

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A shot of me in the Forbidden City 🙂 It was so exciting to be in one of the five greatest palaces of the world. Especially knowing how many emperors lived here.

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The Forbidden City is enormous. In this shot, the people walking around helps show how big of a scale the city is on. The open grounds areas like this cover so much space. You really feel like you are in a little city.

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I liked these passage ways in between the temples and main buildings.

Week 6: Beijing Tour

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This is the Bullet train. We took this to get from Shanghai to Beijing. It reached about 150 mph, but rode so smoothly!

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Our first meal in Beijing 🙂 We ate food that is native to Beijing culture. I liked most of it, but I had to pass on the jellyfish and pig liver.

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Here is the night market area that was right by our hotel. We came here to walk around or get food regularly during our stay.

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This is a shot of a little side alley within the night market. China has so much character 🙂

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We stopped by a little hostel for some drinks and found this cool little hole in the wall. People from all over were staying there and hanging out in the restaurant area.

Week 5: Last week in Shanghai

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On rainy days like this, the tops of these high-rises are covered in clouds. The one on the very right is the Shanghai Tower. We were walking in Pudong district in the financial center.

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On the way to our farewell dinner, we walked along this lifted walkway with incredible views of the financial center. The rain is covering the top of the Pearl Center but it was amazing to be there.

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The restaurant we had our farewell dinner at had a great view of the Bund. In this shot, I captured the reflection of my friend Lo with the Bund as well. This was a happy accident, but it shows us looking at one of the most famous views of Shanghai for the last time.

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The farewell dinner! We had lots of fun together that night, but it was also a little bittersweet knowing we were to depart soon. I will miss these people!

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(From left to right: William, Adam, me, Yuan, Austin) It was so great to get to know each one of these guys. I was grateful to be on this journey with such awesome people.

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(From left to right: Wang Xu, me, Yocia, Ming Ming) Wang Xu was my Chinese language teacher, as well as our assistant director. She was always so sweet and helpful with everything. Yocia was our main director, and she was also very kind and generous. Ming Ming was my Tai Chi instructor. She was very patient and easy to talk to. I will miss these women 🙂

Week 5: Last week in Shanghai

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I will miss these crowded metro stations. Seeing people come and go, and wonder where they are going. Figuring out where I am going as well.

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This street was near our campus. I loved the trees that canopied over the streets, and the colorful signs on the buildings.

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Rusty bikes, brooms made of branches, modern wheelbarrows, signs that mean, “no horns.” Typical Shanghai 🙂

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Shanghai has an incredible transit system. Highways crossing over other highways in layers, metro stations, taxis, buses… They have figured out how to transport all 25 million residents.

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This is a cool little restaurant called Helen’s. We discovered it our last week in Shanghai. They had Western food and Chinese dice games. 🙂