By: Andrew Stearns, Foster Undergraduate who participated in the Shanghai Core Abroad Program
Shanghai, the Paris of the East—with a lot more smoking. I definitely didn’t expect that secondhand surprise, but this lung trauma was more than made up for by the experiences my friends and I came across. I say experiences because there is no physical way that I can pick one event that perfectly encapsulates my time in Shanghai. I can, however, tell you my favorite.
Growing up in Southern California, I went to Disneyland a few times with my family or frie
nds, and my favorite part of the park was always Tomorrowland. Running around in a futuristic utopia made me excited about the possibilities that humanity had in the future to create a place like this. I never thought that I would be able to see such a fascinating place, but Shanghai proved me wrong.
Imagine two crystal balls with a silver skewer centering and connecting them together. That’s the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.
Imagine the Empire State Building as a pagoda, with multiple upward curved roofs stacked on top of each other. That’s the Jin Mao Tower.
Imagine a rectangular bottle opener, one with a large square hole at the top of it. That’s the Shanghai World Financial Center.
Imagine a traditional cylindrical building, but grab it from the top and twist it so that it becomes both taller and curved along the sides. That’s the Shanghai Tower—opening to the public soon.
All of these futuristic buildings are within blocks of one another, and they made me feel like I had been transported to another world. No, at first it made me feel like I was being pranked. The whole setup of the skyline looked fake along the side of the Huangpu river, and I felt as though I was taking a picture in front of a poster of a skyline printout. But when I actually went across the river and stared up the side of these buildings, I finally felt as though I was in the future—that I was in a place that made me feel something I couldn’t and still cannot describe.
This was already the third day of the study abroad program, but this experience made it real that I was in Shanghai. I was in a new country, on a new continent, halfway around the world. The buildings I saw above me and the commuters on their way to work below were a testament to the ingenuity of humanity and its relentless desire to progress and break boundaries for the future. The colors and reflections I saw around me were unlike any I had seen before, and it only makes me more excited to know that there are places like this on our own planet that inspire awe and action.