A mere 10 days after submitting my FINAL Masters dissertation for a MSc in Global Media & Communications at the London School of Economics (i.e.: blood, sweat, tears, and 72 hours of no sleep), I boarded a plane bound for Shanghai, China to begin another journey of academic exploration, language learning and the jumping of cultural hurdles. But before the venture into East Asia began, I was lucky enough to spend some fast and furious days visiting with family and friends in various parts of the U.S. My boyfriend Ray and I (a fellow LSE cohort who’s crazy enough to move to Shanghai with me) city-hopped from Chicago, IL; New York, NY; Nazareth, PA; and, finally, Bodega Bay, CA in what was to be a whirlwind of good food, long talks and some great laughs with the people we love most.
The below pictures are taken with some members of the Lewis family from the deck of our rented beach house close to Bodega Bay, CA. These photos are taken a few minutes before our departure to the airport to catch our flight to Shanghai:
The time spent at home visiting family and friends was amazing, but incredibly TOO short. After the previous year spent studying in a new city (London), with new people/food/culture and life adjustments, I was ready to unpack my bags, raid the fridge and snuggle up with my parents for a few hours of TiVo on the couch. But alas, 10 days of “home-sweet-home” later and I was suddenly on a 12 ½ hour flight headed to Taipei. Ironically, no one bats an eye at this in the Lewis family anymore 🙂 Here is the complete digital album of my trip home and visit to Bodega Bay.
Almost 13 hours of flying in a (very) crowded and older model airbus, we landed in Taipei, Taiwan for a 3 hour layover before the final leg to our Shanghai destination (SIDE NOTE: by “older model airbus” I mean NO personal entertainment consul, a movie shown 15 feet away with no English sub-titles and 2 lousy meals. I’m not a high-maintenance traveler, but 13 hours on a plane makes one take notice of such things…or lack thereof).
Below are photos from the very modern Taipei airport in Taiwan.
After a grand total of 21 hours in travel time, we finally arrived in Shanghai, China mid-morning on Sunday, September 6th. Having no permanent place to live at this time, we had pre-arranged temporary residence at a hotel located on the campus of the Fudan School of Journalism–AKA: my new University (or “J” School, as it’s commonly known). The large, rather luxurious Fuxuan Hotel sits prominently on the eastern section of the J-School campus and is home to formal J-School assemblies, meetings and training sessions. Arriving via cab with 9 large, very heavy pieces of luggage, in 95 degree weather, after 21 hours of traveling, the Fuxuan Hotel looked like THE oasis of legend. We scrambled up the steps and into the marble, low-lit, plushy lobby with the AC humming and finally sighed: ” We are here!”
After some lost in translation moments with the concierge at check-in (something tells me I need to VASTLY improve my Mandarin skills), we were able to settle into our very comfortable room with fantastic views of the Fudan University campus and surrounding areas. Hunger overrode fatigue at this point, and we decided to “splurge” on room service–a meal that cost us the equivalent of 10 US dollars (USD) for two large portions. Our official first meal in China was delicious and spicy Shanghai fried noodles and dumpling soup.
As indicated by the sheer look of exhaustion in above photo, we crashed shortly after the yummy Shanghai-nese meal without much attempt to beat the jet-lag. At this point, there was nothing else to do but sleep and re-charge for all the adventures that settling into a new country entails. Stay tuned for details regarding life at Fudan University, as well as the immersion into traditional Chinese tourism…megaphones, flags, tour boats and more…
I leave you with a photo taken from our hotel room. The view is of Fudan University. Notice the HUGE twin teaching towers, the lovely rows of trees and squat student housing buildings. Downtown Shanghai can be seen in the distance.
UPDATE: After 3 days in the Fuxuan Hotel, Ray and I decided on an apartment in the lovely and posh Luwan District of Shanghai. Click here for photos of our new diggs.