China: A Landscape of Cultural, Geographical, and Authentic Beauty

“Every exit is an entry somewhere else.” – Tom Stoppard

Since I set foot out of the taxi from the airport, Shanghai immersed me in its great abundance of culture present on every street. Shanghai a city likened to a relatively clean and amazingly safe ‘Asian New York’, is usually bustling till late (bar Chinese New Year) and always ripe for exploration.

Going from 30 degree beach days to a city where evenings can be 1 degree, was not easy, you’re constantly in consideration about the summertime fun your buddies at home are having. (but) The considerably meager cost of living in China for necessities sprinkled on top of the main course of the rich and inviting cultural experience China has to offer had me feeling at home within my first few days.

The delicious hot noodle soups, freshly made dumplings, and hot tea warmed me right up every day. And though I usually say I’m not a winter person, I learned to enjoy the cold as I found it great to cycle and walk around in, whilst snug indoors.

Contrary to expectations, Chinese workplace culture is relatively casual and relaxed, however, people are less ‘lively’ and more focused on the task when inside the workplace. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the company of the various personalities at my workplace and spent many a lunchtime with them.

During Chinese New Year I went on an eventful 3-day hiking tour to a rural tea farming town, called Suichang with a fellow Australian student from Melbourne. And then traveled to Beijing on China’s bullet train system.

By the end of my trip, I became accustomed to Shanghai as it was starting to feel like a second home. I had spots where I was a scheduled regular and haunting grounds where I’d go for certain bargains; had made plenty of brief friendships with those ranging from work colleagues to other international foreigners along the way. My most significant take away would be an appreciation of the strong pride and love for heritage and nation the people of China have with one another, which became somewhat contagious.

Manish Seneviratne

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