I have a student who emails me with the header, "Dear Professor G." I may or may not absolutely love this to pieces.
Well, Professor G went to Shanghai this weekend for my very first expense paid, "business trip." I was excited. Last week I recieved my expense report info (including a monthly budget for phone bills/cab rides/formal dinners with Chi.nese business partners and students/and casual coffee, snacks with students). Also included in my expenses is a semesterly trip to Shanghai for corporate functions - round-trip train tickets and a generous budget for a hotel stay.
I was stoked on the hotel. As a self-proclaimed budget travel extraodinaire (3 weeks in Europe for 1000$ what what!!), I was excited to pick out a cute, clean, and more comfortabe place to stay than the places where I usually lay my head (three people in a double bed in Thailand for 5 nights? Ya, that happened.) Having a nicer place to stay because I'm on "business" made me feel like a grown-up and not a backpackin' wanderer.
I arrived early Saturday in order to see my fave Brit Steph who now lives in the city. We had lunch and went to H&M which is glorious compared to our HZ one. Why is everything (western) better in Shanghai!!????! Then there was some trouble because the directions from the internet were wrong to my precious hotel, so I ended up going back to Steph's to shower and get ready for my dinner while she was a great friend and looked up the real hotel info for me and mapped out how to get there by subway.
A good scrub and 800 pounds of makeup later, I was in the tube and on my way to the dinner. I greeted some of the fellow teachers and had a seat at a table. "Hi, are you a student?" the pretty blonde girl next to me asked. "I'm a teacher," I replied.
The rest of the evening was good though. Lots of talking and reassuring the students that everything will be ok. Meeting the new group of students took me back to the year that I came to Chi.na in that group - everything was new and these people were my world. Because the group this year is almost double the size of my group, they don't seen to have the close-knit-ness that my group did. But they are very interesting people from so many backgrounds.
I got to meet 9 of my 12 students and I am so excited about them. Like - wanna pinch their faces and make pom-poms and follow them around cheering, "you can do it! change the world!" - excited.
They have questions, they are curious, they speak their mind, they seem to be adjusting to life abroad. These are all great signs to me.
This morning I was asked to leave by the hotel because the person who had reserved my room for the next night was arriving early (um...rude).
So I too the subway again to see an old classmate from my MAIS year. We had brunch, she cooked me a fab plate of french toast and we caught up after not seeing each other for 1.5 years. It's weird to have lived here so long that I haven't seen some of my friends in years.
Then I was off to find Steph again to grab some luggages I had let her borrow for her move (we made a fabulous plan to meet in the subway station for a pass-off since my phone had run out of money) and then back to Hangzhou.
I rested for a bit, after the guard to the gate and my Iranian dormmate helped me with my luggages (presh heads). Then I was off to the gym and grocery store where the Chin.ese fellow behind me told me to, "go back to my country," after I told him that he was being rude for placing his goods on the check-out counter before mine when I was in front of him in line. That was special.
I just shook my head and turned away from him. But what I should have done is say, "I'm Professor G! You can't cut Professor G!" (just kidding, ha).
The French Concession, Shanghai - I loooove the trees here:
I thought about applying to the store, "Struggle" but decided against it...(look closely at the store sign):