Jolena is an official CAPA vlogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Finance and International Business major at University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Shanghai this semester.
In this week's post, Jolena takes part in a CAPA Shanghai excursion to Suzhou and visits Zhujiajiao to experience more of China.
And just like that I’ve been in Shanghai for two weeks. Although the first week felt like a vacation it soon came to an end as we quickly dove into classes. I can’t comment much on school yet because the only classes I’ve had so far are through East China Normal University’s (ECNU) Global Chinese Program; and these were Chinese and Chinese Philosophy. This coming week I’ll be starting my Global Business Institute classes, so I’d consider this week my first “real” week of school. Once I’ve experienced them I’ll be sure to update but today I wanted to talk about last weekend’s CAPA excursion and the ECNU excursion I went on yesterday.
Last Saturday we visited the “Venice of the East,” aka Suzhou. We woke up early to get to the subway and rode a few stops to Shanghai railway station. From there we rode the high-speed rail which was a cool experience. We made it to Suzhou in 25 minutes when it typically would take hours by regular train or car. To be honest, we were all pretty worn out by the end of the week and were expecting to nap on the train, but within a blink of the eye we’d arrived in Suzhou!
First, we visited the Lingering Garden which had beautiful landscaping and a little pond in the main area. There were also some ancient style rooms to walk through. It was probably what I expected from a traditional Chinese garden.
Next, we took a boat ride down the canals in Suzhou. I’ve never been to Venice, so this was a close second. Lining the canal were also little souvenir shops and food stalls so we spent a good amount of time just wandering around and window shopping!
We ended the trip with a family style lunch. Food has definitely been such an experience in China; a lot of the time it’s a guessing game of what each dish it. I thought that being of Chinese ethnicity I’d know what most dishes were but in Suzhou we got a pot of broth with an entire duck in it which I’d never seen before. We spent a lot of time debating whether it was a chicken or duck, and then we struggled serving the dish because we didn’t have tools besides our chopsticks. It was a bit messy but overall a memorable ordeal.
This past Saturday ECNU offered three destinations for students to visit. My fellow CAPA students and I chose to visit Zhujiajiao, another water town on the outskirts of Shanghai. It was about an hour’s bus ride, with buses provided by the university. Upon arrival the staff had a riddle game set up where we split into groups to find the foods mentioned in the riddles. It was pretty difficult as the vocabulary was a bit outdated, but altogether, we had a fun time! We didn’t exactly win the game—in fact we gave up pretty easily, but I blame it on our eagerness to explore on our own.
There were stalls along the waterways with local food and trinkets, similar to Suzhou, but I personally found Zhujiajiao a little bit livelier. It was crowded but the town was larger, so we were able to get our breathing space in some areas. I think the shops had more variety, and there were more options in food. My group ate at a Cantonese cuisine restaurant and then eventually ventured to a more modern part of Zhujiajiao. It was a nice day trip with beautiful weather and I’m glad we got the opportunity to go!
China is so large with so much to see and it shocks me that I’ve only seen a tiny bit of it. I’m definitely looking forward to our future excursions!
Sarah's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.