Guest Post by: Finance & CISB Junior Catherine Schwarzwalder. She is a Foster School Undergraduate who participated on Foster Exchange at Peking University in Beijing, China.
Golden Week (黄金周) is a week-long national holiday held in China during the first week of October to commemorate the founding of the People’s Republic of China. People around the country have the week off and often use this time to travel home to see family or to visit popular tourist destinations around China. Most exchange students at Peking also took advantage of this week to travel. Despite the warnings of the insane crowds in the large cities, a group of friends and I decided to take a trip south to Shanghai.
Shanghai is often considered the largest, and most “westernized” city in mainland China. It was my first time visiting Shanghai and I was excited to experience the city for myself. It reminded me a lot of a big city back home with fancy designer shops and big bright lights for blocks on end. Visiting the city and seeing some more western aspects was comforting to me, especially after a month and a half away from the U.S. The food in Shanghai was also delicious and I indulged in many of Shanghai’s infamous soup dumplings (小笼包) as well as some much needed Western foods like eggs benedict and salami. The first night I got to explore the city on my own. I walked all the way to the Bund, which is the financial district in Shanghai with incredible towers and fancy modern buildings. The next few days were filled with exploration and sightseeing. I got to see the largest Starbucks Roastery in the world and eat some very good cheesecake and coffee. We went to a restaurant that overlooked the Bund and it was one of the most amazing views I have ever seen. We also explored some more obscure parts of Shanghai like a small hidden art district and the Jewish Refugee Museum.
One of the most unique experiences in Shanghai, however, wasn’t touring the city, but it was having a traditional meal with my friend’s uncle. She invited us to dinner at their home and we were showered with traditional Chinese hospitality. Her uncle served us special teas and small treats, and even had his son play several pieces of music for us on his violin. Having a family style meal with my friends and their family was exactly what I needed at this point in my study abroad. It was the perfect little dose of home before we headed back to Beijing.