Hidden in the middle of the park in People’s Square, we were greeted by countless parents sitting in front of an umbrellas with resumes of their son/daughter attached. Information on the resume is not like one you would see in a job resume. Instead, these are resumes advertising their son/daughter’s job salary, personal descriptions (i.e. funny, intelligent), partner interest, and etc. Many parents wander around the marriage market in hopes of finding a potential spouse for their son/daughter that meets their standards. Once they have found someone who meets their qualifications, a blind date is set up. These blind dates can be arranged by between the parents or a dating agency on site. This crowded place is especially popular among adults and parents who are either in search of a potential spouse for themselves or their child. If you are a foreigner, you are more likely to be approached by parents and dating agencies as many of us were.
Professor Li jokingly asked a girl in the group to pick a potential “husband” from the never ending wall of resumes. Eventually, we did end up finding one. He was 25 years old, about 6 ft. tall, lived in an apartment, and banked in about 5,000 RMB per month. In Shanghai, apartments are quite expensive with most starting as low as $1000 per month. A decent income in Shanghai is roughly 20,000 RMB per month. (Mai Ka Vang)
After visiting the marriage market, we made our way out of People’s Park and moved on to our next activity, the scavenger hunt. We were briefed on the rules and objectives of the scavenger hunt and like the amazing race (Week 1) it involved following clues, traveling, and answering questions. The first location on the scavenger hunt was a very large Shanghai department store. Once there, we located the CIEE staff and asked (in Mandarin) for the next clue. The second clue led us to a famous traditional Chinese medicine store. There, we learned that the store had been open for close to one hundred years. We also learned of several preventative medicines such as fish oil, ginger root, shark fin, and other various plants. After completing the question sheet, we found the CIEE staff and moved on to the next clue. The third clue led us further down the road to one of the famous hotels of Shanghai and required us to take a picture with a local. The fourth and final clue led us to the endpoint of the scavenger hunt located right next to the river on the bund. Although my group of Emma Fero, Joann Huynh, and myself did not win first place, we tied for second and all received fans as prizes. Unsurprisingly, not everyone was able to decipher the ambiguous clues and make their way through the scavenger hunt, so two of the groups went missing. It was later learned that they gave up and headed back to the dorms via the subway. As for the groups that completed the scavenger hunt, we were all treated to a delicious dinner of something similar to hotpot style food. It included a steaming hot broth in which we added out desired portions of lamb, pork, and vegetables. After we all devoured our greatly anticipated meals, and cleared our sinuses in the process, we headed back to the dorms to read for class and get a good night’s sleep. (Alex Villarreal)
A couple days later, in the early evening hours, we attended a KTV (Karaoke TV) station located near the campus with a couple of our Chinese buddies, Professor Li, Ian, and Professor Dennis. We were given two microphones along with tambourines and maracas. During the three hours that we were there, we belted out to a variety of music genres from Katy Perry’s, “California Girls” to “Drops of Jupiter” by Train while chowing down on the famous KFC. Surprisingly, KFC is quite popular here in Shanghai in comparison to the states. My Chinese buddy told me that it’s because KFC was the first fast food restaurant that was introduced to China which is why it’s still quite popular among many people. The highlight of this night was watching Evan sing both the guy and the girl part for the song “Love Shot”. Some of us were pretty sure he probably practiced this song when he was younger because he nailed it that night. Who knows? (Mai Ka Vang)
After class, the group bussed to Shanghai Physical Education University. On the bus ride there, Dr. Li demonstrated a number of martial arts poses, mentioning that he had studied Taiji as a performance art, even though he definitely could have dislocated everyone’s jaws with a high kick to the face. At the Martial Arts Museum, we were greeted by intricately made hand-held weapons showcased in the lobby, and the Taoist yin-yang symbol engraved in a large pillar at the center. Many weapons had red material near the handle, which we were told was supposed to prevent blood from dripping down the handle and making it hard to wield. How ingenious. The floor of the museum showed names of well known martial artists, expanding far beyond the scope of Jet Li and Jackie Chan.
The museum featured many hand-held weapons made from all sorts of metals, models of communities holding Taiji demonstrations outside and learning in the classroom, artwork of standard positions and martial arts being used in wartime, figures of martial artists in traditional dress, etc. etc. From the exhibits, it was obvious that China’s history incorporates an elaborate history of martial arts as well, and it served as a form of defense, performance art, and a way to engage the community. In the basement of the museum, there were interactive simulations where you could fight Jet Li, test your hearing, or watch a video showing basic maneuvers. Here, Dr. Li engaged everyone in a group demonstration of a simple maneuver, which he made look easier than it actually was (for us at least). Apologies to the other visitors who had to walk by our flailing arms and witness our lack of balance. (Joann Huynh)
On our last Saturday in Shanghai, we had a morning of free time, afternoon at the Shanghai M50 Art Galleries, then our group left for Quanjude Beijing Duck Restaurant for our final dinner together. The food was fantastic, as usual. The waiters brought out countless dishes of meats, soups, and a couple things that were unidentifiable to a foreigner, but still tasted great! Thankfully, we got to spend one last dinner with Professor Dennis , Professor Li, and the CIEE leaders who all made the trip most memorable.
Our bus then took us to the Huangpu River where we had a boat cruise on the Bund. The night view of the city with all the buildings shining was gorgeous; some of us students grew up in small towns, so a sight like this is something indescribable. Unlike the other boat “cruises” we had, this one was more of the type of cruise many of us had pictured: big boat with lots of people. The skyline was lit with all colors of reds, yellows, greens, and blues. It was definitely picture perfect.
As the program was inevitably coming to an end, our “See you later”s and very sincere “Welp, have a nice life!”s were approaching quickly. Parting from the people who lead us through the trip was a little tough, but we’ve all discovered our ways of staying in contact with those we met in China. We all developed relationships with each other and created memories that will last a lifetime. (Emma Fero)