Ode d’Eric

I’d like to take the first part of my last post to thank my travel partner and fellow Global Fellow Eric Wang. In the states, I tend to be a relatively independent person. However, in China I became almost completely dependent because of the language barrier. That is where Eric came in. This guy did nearly everything for me, which was probably more than he bargained for. He talked to all of our bosses, got us around with cabbies and avoided getting ripped off, ordered all of my train tickets, introduced me and brought me into his group of friends from Shanghai, lent me a room at his house on the weekends, and even ordered my food for me more often than not. Now, this dependency wasn’t perfect (for example, Eric liked to walk into restaurants and ask me what I wanted even though I couldn’t read a single thing on the menu), but it made my experience in China about a billion times better than it could have been. I understood another impact Eric made on my experience when he left before me and I had to take taxis by myself. Not only did I not know how to tell the cabbies where to go, but I was ripped off each and every time (Eric if you’re reading this, it cost me 125 rmb to get from the train station to my hotel and 50 to get to the airport which should have been a 10 minute drive). So, Eric, thank you for helping me out so much, I really appreciated it. Now, on to the actual post!

I wrapped up my last week at Cubespace this past week and while I am very excited to move on to the next aspect of my travels, I will miss parts of this trip. First and foremost, I will deeply, deeply miss the cheap food and labor costs. Sure there were a few western places in Shanghai that cost about the same as in the states, but most of the time I could spend the equivalent of two US dollars and get more food than I can personally eat. Also, on any given day, I could purchase an hour long foot massage and pedicure for the equivalent of 15 US dollars. This, I will miss deeply. In addition, I will miss some of the people I met along the way. In my personal experience, Chinese people tend to be more quiet and shy when you first get to know them, However, once you engage them in conversation and make their acquaintance, they are very kind hearted people and will go out of their way to be hospitable and make sure that you feel comfortable and are having a good time.

There are also a couple of things that I do not think I will miss about this experience. The first thing that comes to mind is the heat. During the summer in the Yangzhou area, the heat and humidity is intense every day. I cannot remember a day where I could walk outside and not be sweating within 30 seconds. Also, thanks to my lovely father’s genes, I sweat more than a whore in church most of the time, so this heat did not do me any favors. Second, I will not miss the driving. Every time I was in a car in China, I noticed that most of the time, rules and street signs are just mere suggestions. Drivers will really do what they want more or less 99% of the time. This led to some stressful car rides and walks in the city. Lastly, I will not miss the mosquitoes. Those little buggers designed by Satan himself were everywhere. I’ve been covered in mosquito bites for 8 straight weeks.

All in all, this was most definitely an experience for the books. I learned a lot, grew a lot, and was able to better learn and understand my place in the world. My eyes have been opened, my appetite for world travel has been whetted, and I am beyond ready for the next part of my journey in Sweden. One last thank you to Eric, Cubespace and everyone involved, and the Global Fellows program for giving me this life changing opportunity. Austin D. out.

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