Ctripper: China ain't what it used to be—Come see for yourself!

by Emily Eliot
Posted: September 29th, 2010 | Updated: July 25th, 2012 | Comments
Ctrip Ctripper posts come to us directly from the good folks at Ctrip, China's top online travel agency (and proud sponsor of ChinaTravel.net). Stay tuned for Ctrip special offers, travel tips, news on new travel deals, tours and activities, and slices of life-in-China from Ctrip staff and interns. Scared to come to China? Emily's here to tell you there's nothing to be afraid of.... >>> I never studied abroad in college. If I had, I would have had to come to China considering I was busting my butt to learn the language. But having already lived in Asia for 12 years, and knowing that I would definitely be moving back to Asia after graduation, I thought it made more sense to stay in Vermont and get through my political science degree on campus. Now that fall has officially arrived in Shanghai, the city has been flooded once again with a new batch of wide-eyed study abroad kids. They're everywhere! When I meet these young students (such as our wonderful interns Becca, Michaela and Kaela) I am fascinated to hear about their experiences and impressions of the country I now call home. For most of them, the study abroad semester is the first time they've stepped foot on Chinese soil, and I am always curious to know if it is at all like what they expected. Often the answer is no. The truth is, the city of Shanghai, and increasingly Beijing and other big Chinese cities, has very little left of what many foreigners imagine to be stereotypical China. Back-to-back bicycle traffic has been replaced by motorcycles and Buicks, dumpling stands have been replaced by fine international cuisine, and kooky corner shops have been replaced by state-of-the-art malls full of designer labels. I stumbled across a blog entry yesterday by Pepperdine student Kealy Jaynes who arrived in Shanghai just one week ago to exactly this epiphany.

"Ultimately, I came to China on the preconceived notion that I would be forced out of my comfort zone. While some might view culture shock as an unfortunate consequence of being abroad, I find the prospect of encountering the strange, new and unfamiliar exciting.

So I set out that morning eager to learn and immerse myself in all things Chinese, only to end up confused and somewhat miffed at the general lack of what I perceived to be "Chineseness" around me.

Where were the shady dumpling vendors? The bumper-to-bumper bike traffic?"

Right now in America, interest in China and the pursuit of the Chinese language are at an all-time high. For many young students, cities like Shanghai and Beijing serve as these sort of beacons of hope amidst an otherwise dismal international job market, and so the drive to become China-savvy is strong. But despite all the excitement, it seems that still the only way to really understand the complexities of this place is to come see for yourself. Kealy continues,

"And suddenly there it was--culture shock had arrived, not in the tsunami wave that I had anticipated, but rather in a slow tide that snuck up and took me by surprise.

Clearly I had underestimated this city, with its strange synthesis of the old and the new, the modern and the traditional, the thriving and the suffering--the growing pains of a country in the midst of rapid change... After one week, I've learned more than I've ever known about China, and at the same time, never been more confused about the country. When culture shock comes, it rushes in like a flood.

One thing I do know for sure though, is that I can't wait to dive deeper."

What Kealy has figured out, and what I hope all the students who get the chance to come to China learn, is that this country isn't just its history. China isn't just The Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Terracotta Warriors, etc. China also boasts some of the most modern & international cities in the world and is constantly growing and improving beyond all expectations. But don't take my word for it. Or Kealy's. Come see for yourself!
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