Today’s entry was written by Brittany, Jakob and Brenton

After figuring out what time we had to be awake, we were excited to sleep in until at least 8 in the morning. After we enjoyed our breakfast, I took the time to go back upstairs with my roommate Kailee and enjoy two hours of relaxation before we had to meet and begin our day from Xi’an to Shanghai.

During the bus ride to the airport, we had to decide what song we were going to sing for our visit to the autism center for senior citizens the next day. Many of the students had disagreed with the original choice of This Land is Your Land, and our ever-so-helpful tour guide Bruce introduced us to his music which ranged from Britney Spears to obscure artists who covered pop songs from America. We heard a song from Justin Bieber but had no luck in selecting our own.

We get to the airport and had our lunch that (surprise) included a lazy susan and rice and assorted Chinese dishes. I’m sure that we have had enough rice to last a lifetime in the U.S. “At first it was cool–I mean, we were eating rice in China–but eventually the novelty wore off and I’m just sick of it,” said Kailee. The vegetarian isolation continued and we all had to sit at the same table, receiving our usual dose of eggplant and green vegetables. It was a shocker when we received fruit.

After stuffing ourselves once again, we made our way to security where many of us were thoroughly wanded down and Jack found it hilarious. “It was just funny when I saw other people having to stand on that podium and we didn’t even have to take off our shoes,” said Jack. We waited in the terminal for what seemed like hours before first boarding a tarmac bus and then getting in our airplane. At first, we were all surprised that the plane was so empty. We moved around to take advantage of the empty space, but our flight attendant informed us of another incoming bus and we sadly moved back to our original seats.

In Shanghai it was the same song and dance: get off plane, walk ten miles to get our luggage, walk to our new bus and meet our guide. Because Shanghai is Bruce’s hometown, he was also our local guide and was aided by his assistant Teresa. We arrived at the hotel shortly after and got ready for a fancy night out with dinner at a nearby hotel and an acrobatic show.

Our dinner had started out well enough with scrambled eggs! In the vegetarian room, Jack had noticed that one of our dishes had meat in it and Tori told Bruce. What ensued was awkward and hilarious. We still aren’t exactly sure what was said, but there was a small amount of shouting. Apparently in the meat lovers’ room, the restaurant we were in had accidently given them the wrong dishes meant for another table and more shouting occurred. —Brittany

Shanghai acrobat performanceA student performer rides a tightrope at the Shanghai Acrobatic Show. Photo by Tara

Our entrance into the theatre gave no hint of what was to come. A fast-flying troupe of acrobats awaited. After a long day, as tired as we were, some of us thought we might sleep, but this was not to be the case. We soon found the experience was so enthralling that we didn’t dare blink, let alone doze off. The wide variety of tricks and stunts ranged from unicycle riding and juggling to high flips while suspended by cables. All the while our excitement ranged from on the edge of our seats to ecstatic. This famous group from Shanghai is not your average acrobatic circus act. The members, who study at a special school, ranged from very young to more mature adults. Bruce Li, our tour director, informed us that many of the students begin the special training as early as age six or seven. The performers showcased masterful body contortion and mesmerizing hand-eye coordination while maintaining both elegance and pizzazz. Every aspect contributed to an engrossing experience for our entire group.-Jakob

New York City is awfully far from Shanghai, yet not all that different, from what I could tell. As we got off the bus after the acrobat show and stepped into the French Concession (an old neighborhood where French Citizens used to reside) we were overwhelmed by glowing signs, soaring high rise buildings, and many people with bags overloading their arms.

The French ConcessionThe French Concession district in Shanghai where many people socialize, shop and dine out. Photo by Kate.

All of this reminded us of New York City, but with a Chinese twist. Instead of the smell of cheesy New York style pizza, there was a scent of sweet and sour chicken and won-tons. The area was filled with hundreds of people shopping, eating and enjoying the benefits of living in a large urban city. And being a city with 23.75 million citizens and hundreds of huge business offices, it is nothing less than a massive urban city. With twenty minutes to ourselves, we jumped into the exciting atmosphere and shopped, socialized, and just had a good time. This should prove to be a prelude to what is to come for us in Shanghai paradise. –-Brenton