So I guess this it it. This is the end.
On July 7th, I woke up at 5:00 am with a heavy heart. I heated in the microwave my breakfast, a meat Baozi from the restaurant at the corner of Da Xue Lu, my last authentic Chinese meal. I checked again my two heavy luggages full of souvenirs, a bit worried about their weight. Then I looked one last time at my first ever student apartment. My roommate woke up to say goodbye. It was an awkward goodbye. She knows I am bad at saying goodbye. My goodbyes are casual and cold. It’s not that I don’t care. Actually, I care too much. I just play like I am going to see the person the next morning.
It helps cure the sadness.
I arrived at JFK the same day at 8:00 pm. My dad picked me up at the airport, and we got home together. As I looked through the car windows toward the glowing Manhattan, I got this strange impression that Shanghai was just a long and nice dream.
People talk a lot about their semester, but they do not about how it feels to go home. Home is weird. Home does not come naturally immediately. It’s like you are new to it. You have to tame it again. You have warm welcome back at home with your family. Then you have to reintegrate the daily routine. You go see your friends, and they tell you everything you missed during the semester. And it was a lot. You need to get back in the group again and go with the flow. You have to learn again how to behave in the big city. It does not take long, you have been doing that for years, but it asks for a few tries. Finally, you have to deal with the mixed feelings, the incredible excitement to be back and see all your loved ones again, and on the other hand, the guilt of secretly missing abroad.
You are intensely loving two different stories at the same time.
People ask me what I learned from my experience in Shanghai, or the things I preferred. I would say it is too early to tell. So many things happened this semester. I encountered a new culture, lived on my own for the first time, discovered exotic unknown places and met unique individuals. Bright souvenirs have been flowing through my mind ever since I am back. With time, I understand some will last longer than others. These one will be the answer to what I really did learn from Shanghai.
For the moment, all I know is that this trip made me different. I am different. I have grown. China is a wonderful country. It makes you think. It makes you examine and wonder. It makes you understand. I now have tons of atypic stories to tell, some silly, some joyous, some sad, but all mind opening.
I started this blog in order to tell you a story. The story of my semester in Shanghai.I wanted to share with you my honest feelings about my life there. I hope you enjoyed reading through it. I personally enjoyed a lot writing about my experience. Writing was a nice way to get critical about the things I encountered, and to put some orders into the tsunami of emotions that flooded my mind..
I would love to think that maybe my writings made you dream a little, or even made you think about traveling too some day. There are places there to be discovered, they are just waiting for you to come.
Personally, I know about one that melted my heart.
Yes, China made me feel alive.