Day 12: Shang-Bye, Shanghai

Our final full day in China is here, and needless to say all of us are pretty sad about it. We’re seeing the Yu Garden today as well as the market surrounding it, and then our final presentation is in the afternoon followed by the farewell dinner. It always seemed like the farewell dinner was so far away when I looked at the itinerary, I can’t believe that its actually happening tonight.

We started the day with our tour guide Alex at the Yu Garden. This is definitely one of my top three favorite sites we’ve seen on the entire trip. The rockeries, the koi fish, the architecture, all of it was so beautiful. It was very hot and humid that day, but I didn’t mind since the scenery was so lovely. Although the Yu Garden has existed for 400 years, it has undergone a lot of restoration and reconstruction due to the damage it endured during the Opium Wars in the 19th century.

We finished touring through the garden and the marketplace (where I bought yet another set of chopsticks), but my friend Ruben and I decided to not take the bus back with the rest of the group so that we could spend more time going through the garden. We stayed for about another hour and saw way more of the garden than we saw before. I had no idea that we missed so much when we walked through the first time, so I was really glad that we stayed. It was almost like a maze when we were going through without a tour guide, because you would think that you’ve seen it all only to stumble upon an entirely new area. They even had an art exhibit from local Shanghai artists inside one of the buildings that we completely missed the first time through.

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When we found our way back to the hotel after locating the subway, taking it to the correct stop and then asking a stranger for directions to the hotel, I met with my group so we could practice presenting. At around 4 we left the hotel and walked to another hotel where we would be giving our presentations. It was a fairly long walk but the space we were in was perfect. One by one, the six groups pitched their products to us and I was impressed by all of them! I think that everyone put a lot of thought into their projects and did a great job of getting their innovative ideas across.

Our farewell dinner was at a restaurant called The Silk Road. They brought out so much food it was impossible to finish it all, no matter how good it was. Everyone really enjoyed the meat that was served skewered onto little swords; it was both delicious and fun to eat, and we definitely didn’t play with the swords after.

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At the dinner Dr. Li also announced what our groups won after presenting because the final project was a competition. There were categories like most innovative product and best presentation, and my group ended up tying for 2nd place overall! I was proud of us because we put a lot of work into our product and I think it paid off.

Once Dr. Li finished handing out the awards, he made some final remarks to us about the trip as a whole and it was very nice. A few other people spoke briefly when prompted by the rest of the group, and then we ended up going around the table so each person got a chance to address the entire group. It was really sweet and a little emotional because it started to hit that we would be leaving tomorrow morning. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of students to go on this adventure with, and I’m sad to say that the adventure in China ends tomorrow.

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