Two weeks have flown by and it’s our last day here in China. I’m really sad to have to say goodbye as it seems we’re only just getting used to the culture here, but there are definitely some Western comforts I’m looking forward to when I get home.
For our last day, we started out with a trip to the Yu Garden, a beautiful Chinese garden seemingly isolated in the middle of Shanghai. Were it not for the groups of tourists inside, it would have been very peaceful. Some of my favorite parts of the visit to the Yu garden were the Dragon and the rockery, once again held together with sticky rice and fruit juice, an ongoing theme in all the architecture we’ve seen on this trip starting with the city wall in Xi’an. We learned the major difference between the darker colored Shanghai dragon and the yellow Beijing dragon: the number of toes each dragon possesses. The Beijing dragon has five toes while the Shanghai dragon has four toes. Furthermore, we learned the symbolism behind the koi fish and turtles ubiquitous in the pools in the garden. Koi fish represent wealth and turtles represent longevity, as such it was fortuitous for the owner of the garden to place those two animals in their garden, often in great quantity as we counted more than fourteen turtles in one such pond.
After our trip around the garden where we were able to take copious amounts of pictures to remember our last day, we had the chance to explore the markets around the Yu garden, which were somewhat of a tourist trap. I was able to practice my bargaining skills again, this time with much more success than I had in Beijing at the Pearl Market. I got two glasses printed with the Shanghai skyline and pandas for 20 yuan, an acceptable deal at just over one dollar each, especially considering the starting price of one glass for 35 yuan. I think that even the short two week time span has taught me a lot about what to expect from the bargaining culture, especially in these tourist settings. What I’ve learned has been invaluable in contributing to the completion of my group’s final project, an app used to facilitate local bargaining.
In the afternoon we prepared our presentations on products to fill gaps in the market we had seen during our time in China. While everyone had initially been drawn to the idea of translator apps and other devices to conquer the language barrier during our brainstorming in the first week, the more time we spent here in China, the more complex and well-suited for the culture our ideas became. Our final presentations varied from laundry services, to bargaining apps, trip planners, and Pokémon Go style virtual reality apps. I think all the presentations turned out really well, and the celebration meal we had afterwards was a great way to conclude our time here. It’s been a jam packed two weeks, and I’m incredibly glad I had the opportunity to visit China at such a young age and do all these things that without Pitt study abroad and the Asia Institute I would not have been able to do.