COB Study Abroad Program China
Waking up in Shanghai this morning, our smiles and spirits were bigger than ever thanks to what seemed like everyone’s first full night rest. We put on our walking shoes and met in the lobby at 10am. Today we were going to see the old and new Shanghai. It started with a trip to the Jade Buddha Temple. Previous to our arrival, I thought I knew what to expect from researching and looking at pictures of the Jade Buddha. I am happy to admit that my expectations were wrong and greatly surpassed. Pictures do not do this temple justice. The detail around the temple was immaculate. There was something to see around every corner, on every floor tile as well as every ceiling. When you enter this temple, you begin at the Grand Hall, which contains Three Golden Buddhas, front and center. It is accompanied by the Gods of the Twenty Heavens on the east and west sides of the room. As we left this room we searched for the two famous Jade Buddhas. The sitting Buddha could only be seen by purchasing a ticket and pictures were forbidden. The other one, a smaller laying Buddha which represents the death of Buddha, was near the exit of the temple.
The next stop was definitely my favorite of the day. We walked through a bargaining market, up a couple flights of stairs and into a little restaurant where we became witnesses to a very cool traditional tea ceremony. We all sat around one big table and watched as a woman started by showing us “Romeo and Juliet” bloom in hot water. This immediately caught and held my attention because I had no idea that: 1. Tea bloomed flowers in water and 2. There were so many different kinds and so many different meanings. For instance, Black tea is good for reducing your blood pressure. Green tea is filled with antioxidants and it’s great for healthy skin. Drinking tea in China is prepared and consumed as a sign of respect: for family gatherings, to express thanks for elders, and even to apologize. They also showed us these really awesome cups with black dragons on them that changed colors when hot tea was poured into them. I also thought it was really cool how they use tea flowers to decorate their homes. At the end of the ceremony, they showed us a tradition known as “finger tapping” which refers to how men and women are supposed to hold their tea cups. Women are supposed to hold it with the thumb and pointer finger while fanning out the other fingers. Men are supposed to keep all their fingers together. This is done as a sign of respect to the tea master.
After the ceremony was over we went to another family style lunch. It was one of the best so far. I really like how we don’t have to order anything or even look at a menu. They always just bring out a large variety of food. Next, we had about an hour to shop and bargain through the market. The language barrier makes this very difficult and getting a good deal takes a lot of time, but it was overall a successful shopping day.
Next stop was to a Shanghai Museum with over 7000 years of art and history. There were four floors with everything you could imagine like ancient coins, scripts, pagodas, and jade sculptures. At the exit I stopped at the gift store and found my name written in Chinese characters. My name is made of three characters, the first one meaning “Fortress,” followed by “Chinese,” and finished with “Sexy Lady.” I thought this souvenir was way too cool to pass up.
We finished the day up by going to the “Super Brand Mall” right in the middle of the beautiful Shanghai skyline. I was surprised by how many American stores were in there. It was also a relief and almost half of us bought something at H&M, which I thought was boring but necessary. At this point our feet were killing us and we took the subway back to the hotel. I would say it was a successful yet exhausting day. Most of us ended our day with a trip to the pool and a meal from room service. I was very thankful to be staying in such a comfortable and beautiful hotel room.