Yu (Gotta See This) Garden

I woke up this morning with a slightly heavy heart knowing that today would be our last day to explore Shanghai. Luckily, my excitement about visiting the Yu Garden this morning was able to overshadow the pre-departure sadness. To get to the garden itself, we walked through a bustling marketplace teeming with any sort of souvenir one could imagine from Shanghai. It was a gorgeous day to walk through the garden’s many buildings and enclosures. Throughout the site were lush greenery, carved stone, and beautiful lanterns (among other interesting things such as koi and decorative wooden windows). This was probably my favorite site we visited over the two weeks, as I love gardens and design. It was the perfect end to a sweet trip. And of course, we couldn’t leave such a picturesque space without taking photos (one of many is attached).

After we left the garden, we were given free time to explore the marketplace. I used the time to pick up some last minute souvenirs for friends and family. Anything you could want was for sale; custom figurines, tea, keychains, candy, dumplings, you name it. After gathering our wares, we gathered again to head back to the hotel.

From there, it was crunch time. Our presentation was due at 3:00 pm, so we used the time to make any last minute changes to our idea. We came up with a dock that linked up with your average smartphone and allowed the user to project the screen onto a surface as well as type more comfortably with a full-sized keyboard. After adding a couple stylistic touches, we were ready to present! I enjoyed seeing what directions other groups took the prompt. I was surprised that no other group decided to go with a physical object rather than an app. The cool thing about all of the products was that I don’t think any of us would have thought of these ideas prior to visiting China for two weeks. They were all rooted in aspects of China that (at least from talking to other students) we did not know were prominent parts of China’s environment.

We finished off the night with a farewell dinner. I’ll spare everyone the typical “best meal so far” comment, but I must say: the food was very good. After some words from the Asia Institute, they were so kind to give us each scrolls!

I’m so grateful to the Asia Institute and Pitt staff who made this trip possible. It was truly some of the best weeks of my life, and I feel that this opportunity has helped me grow professionally, academically, and personally. Xie xie!

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