I greeted China with a mix of skepticism and enthusiasm. Growing up intrigued by, yet apprehensive about, China, I didn’t know if I’d see a bleak picture of communistic oppression or a thriving society of high achieving students and colorful celebrations. Ultimately, I came away with a sense that the Chinese are much like me: individuals each with their own love of family, value of friends, goals for success, appreciation for food, and efforts to juggle work, play, and the commute or transition between the two. I can’t possibly summarize all I have learned about its politics, economy, or environmental challenges, so I’ll focus on my little glimpse into their world.
Shanghai was our first stop, a huge city of 24 million people. To put that into context, that is roughly 3 times the size of Chicago. Since food is the most important reason to explore a new city, I will tell you that I enjoyed sesame rice balls, rice-wrapped seaweed, spicy noodles with raisins, shrimp dumplings, spring rolls, shrimp-fried rice, and spicy chicken (served whole with skin and bones). My fellow travelers ate a variety of pork dishes (they eat more pork than beef or chicken in China) – pork dumplings, buns, balls, and rice dishes. Shanghai is also home to the world’s largest Starbucks. Just saying.
provides us with healthcare, housing, and pensions; we are growing and have more information and more freedom than before. We are happy.”
and Traditional Chinese Medicine. It was incredible and the students were able to relate it back to my class lectures. :)
Next, grocery shopping with the locals. That means 3 square blocks of outdoor market: one part covered, dusty and pungent, with animals and seafood, every body part available for purchase; the other part uncovered, dusty and aromatic, with more colors and shapes of fruits and vegetables than most of us knew existed.
Then lunch at a popular Dim Sum restaurant, with huge round tables that sat 10 people but more importantly had a 3-feet diameter lazy susan in the middle heaped with dumplings with every kind of filling – seafood, vegetables, meat. Also several soy dishes – grilled soy cakes, fermented tofu, soy pudding, all better than they sound and certainly better for you than the processed soy protein additives in the US. And Coke. That’s been a consistent theme throughout China – Coke served everywhere with every meal. :(