This blog post is coming to you from Mr. Klenz and Mr. Tonniges, the trip chaperones to Shanghai.
We thought it might be helpful and interesting for our families and readers to get some more information about what our experience has been like, from traveling in the airport, to our 13 hour flight, to the weather, language barriers, etc. With only 3 and a half days left in our trip- here's what we've learned and experienced.
- We had a 4 hour flight from Vegas to Montreal, then a 13 hour flight from Montreal to Shanghai. During the flight we all had access to in-seat screens and movies, and were two meals and a snack. The flight was not a full one, but there is no way around sitting for 13 hours straight, in a compact space. Our first two-ish days of travel, felt more like 2 and a half weeks. We arrived, jet lagged and groggy.
- The Shanghai airport is decent size, but was clearly marked for us where we needed to go. Upon exiting the plane, we immediately scanned our fingerprints, and went through border control, where they checked our visas and passports- then off to customs.
- We ran into some baggage issues in Montreal, having been forced to check about half of our carry-on bags due to limited space. We were told we would pick them up at the carousel in Montreal, but when we asked at border control, they indicated that some of our carry-ons had actually been checked to Shanghai, and some were not. We were forced to split up, some of us continuing to our China gate, and others having to go back through security in order to find our bags, which has been mislabelled and almost left in Canada. Thanks to a very kind worker, we got everything settled, and were blessed that everything arrived on time.
- Our group has been surprised by how many American restaurant chains are available in China. One of the biggest reasons for taking this trip was to open the eyes of our students to a country from which many of our FLHS International students come from. We have seen Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Burger King, McDonalds, Papa Johns, Starbucks, Dairy Queen, KFC, and many more. For our students to experience and understand that the world is very much connected, and does not begin and end with the United States has been crucial.
- Language: all of the street signs and menus are in both Chinese characters, and English or the pinyin (Roman alphabet pronunciation). We have been surprised by the varying difference between natives choosing to be patience and work with us and some have been harder to engage with. Our group has not felt uncomfortable but at time confused since Shanghai is very much an international city and has people from around the world as well as millions of Chinese from around the country.
- Transportation: Around the city of Shanghai transportation has been very easy for our group. Both advisors and students are within walking distance to both the school and the metro station.
- Local Food: We've been repeating the mantra "try everything once" over and over again when it comes to food. We've been pushed out of our comfort zones, but often pleasantly surprised at how delicious a lot of the food is. We've had soup dumplings, roasted duck, sweet rice desserts, stinky tofu, jianbing (a wonton, egg, breakfast crepe), fried chicken cartilage, roasted bamboo, duck blood soup, and much more!
- Amazed by the scenery: Shanghai is a beautiful city, the city planning time and effort that has been put in has been visible to see. There are many green areas around to beautify the communities. While on our drive around the city we were amazed by the amount of tall buildings and how vertical the city both looks and feels. One experience that stuck out to us was that the highway had flower beds along the road.
- Connectivity issues: working with a VPN to access sites for homework has been tricky, as connection and service comes and goes as it pleases. We've been blessed to have access to Wi-Fi almost everyday so far, which has made things much smoother.
We have a packed day visiting the Fake Market, Jing'An Temple, Fu Xing Park, and shopping on Nanjing Rd today, followed by the start of the CISSMUNX conference tomorrow! Only a few more days to enjoy our Asian adventure!
Mr. Klenz and Mr. Tonniges