December 2018 Update

I have been too quiet on this blog. That will change next year.

What keeps me busy in Shanghai?

I meet with my Mandarin teacher (Hanyu laoshi) 1-2 times per week. It is a difficult language to learn, but I keep working at it. I spend time every day listening to native speakers…hoping to be able to understand part of what they are saying. I can usually pick out individual words, but full comprehension just isn’t there yet.

I am the board secretary for the American Club Shanghai (ACS). This is one of my volunteer positions. ACS is a great group, and I expect to take on more responsibility next year.

I am on the editorial team for Courier magazine, which is the publication of the Shanghai Expatriate Association (SEA). This also is a volunteer position. My role will change next year, and I expect that transition (top secret for now) to give me an opportunity to expand my skill set.

I play mahjong every Friday with SEA. Not only is this a fun social experience, but it is also good “exercise” for my brain as I strategize each game.

I play “may I” every Wednesday with Brits Abroad Shanghai. It is a card game similar to rummy and “phase 10.” This also is social as well as more brain exercise.

I have done some traveling. I just posted some of those stories to minnesotatoshanghai.com. I have more to post.

As a shy introvert I need to push myself constantly to find more opportunities to meet people. Making friends has been harder than I expected, but like the language, I keep working at it. ACS, SEA and Brits Abroad all offer a variety of events and activities every week.

And lately, I’ve been attending all of the parties put on by the expat groups, in addition to a few private parties also. Here some are pictures from holiday parties.

 

I made an unplanned trip back to Minnesota in November. My husband went home for emergency eye surgery. He is healing well and hopefully will get most of his vision back. Because of this trip I was able to spend Thanksgiving in the US. I really enjoyed spending time with my dad, brothers and their families.

I leave Shanghai Thursday so I can spend Christmas in Minnesota. I am very excited, but I will miss my Shanghai life, and Dave, as he is staying in China for the rest of the year.

Just before my husband flew home for his surgery his boss asked him if he’d like to extend his work in Shanghai beyond the originally planned two years. I surprised myself by immediately agreeing that we should stay longer. I agreed to this adventure because I want to see all of Asia. One more year just won’t be enough for me to do everything I want to do. There are others reasons also I think we should stay, but I will work those into more content to post here.

More to come in 2019…..

Happy holidays!!

Terra Cotta Warriors

jewelsworldtravels

A farmer was digging a well for water in 1974. It was a very dry year. He unearthed one of the greatest discoveries of my lifetime.

You really need to see pit 1 of the Terra Cotta Warrior Museum. Here are my pictures, but they don’t fully capture how amazing this active archaeological site is.

The building is over 250 yards long – more than 2 football fields.

Site of the well the farmer was digging

New section they recently started digging out more warriors

I wonder if the people who created the warriors and buried them could have imagined our interest in them now.

Warrior hospital

The chariots didn’t survive- the empty space behind the horses

Terra cotta warriors- a very, very difficult puzzle!

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Great Barrier Reef

jewelsworldtravels

I completed my open water scuba diving requirements 17 years ago on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Since then I had completed 13 dives. (Puts me way behind the curve from most divers.)

As a Minnesotan, diving is an expensive hobby because it requires me to travel somewhere else to dive. I dove once in Lake Huron, for practice. It was cold.

I have spent way more time visiting Europe than going places where I could dive, but I did put the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) on my bucket list once I realized how much I love to dive.

But…realistically, I didn’t actually believe, at the time, that I would ever scuba dive the GBR.

I just returned from a fantastic trip to Australia, and it started in Cairns.

Cairns is a small town where many people go to access the GBR. I know an Australian woman who described it…

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Pumpkin pie

I found pumpkin pie in Shanghai. It was, without a doubt, the worst piece of pumpkin pie I’ve ever eaten. But that is ok.

The texture of the pie was good.

The color of the pie was perfect.

The flavor was off as it was likely missing at least clove, and perhaps other spices.

But it was still a taste of home.

One of the challenges of expat life is missing favorite foods. It never occurred to me that I could find a pumpkin pie in China, so when I did I couldn’t resist eating it.

I still miss pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, and diet Mountain Dew.

I have found a great source for turkey so I will be able to have a little taste of an American Thanksgiving dinner next month.

What food do you miss if you are an expat? Or would you miss if you couldn’t find it?

Street of Eternal Happiness

The “Street of Eternal Happiness” is a book set in Shanghai, and written by fellow Minnesotan Rob Schmitz,

This book really spoke to me. I enjoyed it so much I would recommend it to everyone, especially all westerners who are living in Shanghai.

The book includes excellent historical details on China, Shanghai in particular, and the ever-evolving culture. I’ve heard from many people how much Shanghai has changed, and is still changing, but I hadn’t really considered the impact that change has on cultural differences until I read the book.

Rob compared Shanghai to NYC, and how “raw” NYC still was over a hundred years ago.

Between reading the book, and thinking about Rob’s descriptions of Shanghai and its people, and having lived here now for a couple of months, I have found that my attitudes have definitely softened.

The first subway opened in NYC in 1904. The first subway line opened in Shanghai in 1994, and the system grew quickly. Average weekday ridership in NYC was just under 6 million in 2016. Average ridership in Shanghai is 10 million per day. Subway etiquette is still evolving in Shanghai. There is lots of pushing and shoving here, and I try to set a good example, not that anyone is paying any attention to me. I am often the only person who isn’t on their phone.

Shanghai is…”the most populated city of the most populated country on the planet” and I have discovered that patience goes a long way towards harmony with my neighbors.

My favorite part of the book are the stories of people who lived and/or worked on the Street of Eternal Happiness, currently known as Changle Lu. Living in a city with more than 24 million other people means that I will only ever know a very, very small percentage of the population. And, since my knowledge of the language isn’t good, right now I have very little chance of really getting to know my neighbors. Rob got to know several families on the street, and did a great job of sharing their stories.

It was also a good reminder that we all do have a story.

My story right now is in Shanghai, and it is still evolving. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Driving Miss Daisy

Or in my case, driving miss Julie…

It is common for expats in Shanghai to have a driver. Ours is named Li.

In 5 weeks I’ve used the driver twice. The first time was to pick up a vacuum, six blocks away. And again today because it was raining- my second typhoon- and I knew the driver would need to be out anyway to pick Dave up at the airport.

I don’t want to drive myself in Shanghai. I am comfortable taking the metro. I like biking. And I walk. And traffic is terrible!

I suppose the primary reason I don’t use the driver is because having a driver seems to me to indicate a level of wealth and a lifestyle that I don’t have. But he is getting paid to do a job.

I will probably get used to it, like so many other odd things about living in China.