When planning a ten month trip to somewhere like China you cant help but make presumptions of what its going to be like. How will the food taste? Will I be able to find my way around? What will China be like?! I had thousands of questions but when I arrived in Shanghai I came to realise that not everything was the way I thought it would be.
Before I arrived in shanghai I always knew the city was big but I had no idea how big the city really was! It is jam packed with jaw dropping sites and filled with a wonderful sense of modern Chinese culture. It is everything I wanted it to be and more. I could never be bored here! I also did not realise how easy it would be to visit other places in China such as Suzhou or Hangzhou which are also beautiful cities close to Shanghai and accessible by train.
Being on the topic of travel, I cannot help but mention how incredibly cheap it is to get around in China. Before I came here I thought I would be strapped for cash wanting to see as much of Shanghai as I can. This is not the case, transport is insanely cheap. A 40 minute bus journey can cost me 10 Yuan the equivalent of 1 pound. The metro map and system is very similar to London’s so easy to pick up and also very cheap!
Food was also something I had many panic attacks about, being a fussy eater I would question how could I ever get used to the food here. Basically the food is delicious I love it and could eat it all day. But if I wanted a typical western meal I can purchase many items from my local supermarket in the imported section or head into the city for a huge variety of western style restaurants. Its as easy as that!
I am originally from Manchester in England. I am not saying that it unsafe at home, but I am definitely cautious when alone and like to keep an eye on my bag when it is busy. The thing I have been most surprised about in China is the safety! Before I came here, the idea of being in a foreign country where most people cannot communicate with me made me feel like I would have to be extra careful. I could not have been more wrong, Shanghai is the safest place I have ever been in the world. Nobody wants to harm one another; everyone is so friendly and has so much respect for each other. It is truly a beautiful way of living.
Finally I would like to add my expectations of being a teacher in a place like Shanghai. My main worry was not being able to communicate with my students and not have a good working environment with my peers. Also I have very little teaching experience prior to arriving in Shanghai so questions like would I be good enough? Came to mind. I cannot express more, how glad I am to have made the decision to come here. The Chinese students have so much respect for you as a teacher and work incredibly hard in all classes. I have never struggled, the staff at my school are so friendly and welcoming and the bond I have with my students is remarkable.
If I could look back now and speak to my past self, I would say stop worrying! Stop presuming just live it and take everything as it comes. Being here I have learnt a new thing everyday and it has truly been an experience of a lifetime.