It’s our last day in China, and I really don’t want to leave. I’m not only going to miss exploring China, but I’m also going to miss all of the people in our group especially our program coordinators Jane and Yangyang. Today, we went to our last cultural site visit at the Yu Garden. We took the bus there in the morning with Alex, the tour guide from our first day in Shanghai. He told us some history on the bus ride to Yu Garden. Once we got there, we walked through a little marketplace before arriving at the garden. We walked through the garden as Alex took a couple stops to explain traditions in China and the important aspects of Chinese gardens. The garden was much larger than I expected, and there were so many parts to the gardens. Once you thought you’d seen it all, there would be another pathway taking you to a different segment, and we didn’t even see the whole garden. We even wondered upon a small stage area where musicians were playing; Alex said it was for some sort of commercial. The architecture, plants, and stones were really beautiful and put together. My favorite part was how the pond for the koi fish went through the whole garden because there were little tunnels for the fish to swim through, and I just love koi fish.
After we went through the gardens, we had some free time to explore the market surrounding the garden. The market was similar to the one in Xi’an, but it was more put together, and we weren’t sure if we could bargain in some of the places. There were a lot of different food stands where we could get lunch as well, but I wasn’t that hungry. I bought t-shirts that said Shanghai for my younger cousins, and wandered through some other stores. Just like in Xi’an, I wasn’t really interested in buying that many things. Before we left the market area, I went into Starbucks for a drink. It was really interesting to see the difference in the Chinese Starbucks versus the ones in the US. I got a mango tea drink that was way too sweet for me. When we got back, there was a decent amount of time before our presentations. Some people went to the market, but I was so tired from staying up that I took a nice nap. I slept through when the cleaning person was supposed to clean my room, but shortly after I woke up and took the “Do not disturb” sign off, the lady knocked on my door. She had me sit at the desk in my room as she cleaned and offered me water. It was so nice because they usually refill the room with two waters per day, but she ended up giving me six water bottles total! Those were very nice to have because we can’t drink the tap water. Our group met in the thirty minutes before we had to leave for our presentations, and we did a quick run through to check that we were good on time.
Everyone met in the lobby to walk over to another hotel where we reserved a conference room to give our business presentations. We had a big idea competition for the best business plan. I thought our group did a good job presenting our QuikBike idea, and all of the other groups had cool ideas as well. After all of the presentations, the judges convened, and then we walked to our farewell dinner.
At the dinner, the food was really good. Midway through we also got to order drinks, and we all got different smoothie type drinks; mine had mango, passionfruit, and banana, and it was really tasty. Then, Dr. Li announced the winners of the big idea competition, and each group got little prizes. My group tied for second place. After that, we somehow started making people give speeches, and eventually just went around the room, and everybody gave a mini speech. They were all really genuine and nice to hear. It was going to be so weird to leave everybody after being with them almost 24-7 for two weeks. After dinner, we all planned on going to karaoke as our last hoorah. Our last night of exploring was one I’ll never forget, and I’ll miss China a lot. This was the best study abroad experience that I could have asked for.