My last day in China was a bittersweet end to my trip. I won’t lie that I could stay forever because I was exhausted and missed a good Philly cheesesteak from back home. Despite that, China has a special place in my heart. Never again will I look onto a buffet of food, see nothing I know, try all of it no matter how weird it looks, and not regret a thing. This is also the last time I will walk into a country without being able to read or speak the language and be essentially lost besides for saying “ni hao” to strangers that wave at me. This last day in Shanghai and China really was the end of what will probably be my favorite two weeks of the year. Still my last day made sure to exhaust me so I could sleep great.

We started the day off with the Yu Garden which really wowed me. The garden was created to be a microcosm of nature in 1577 for the emperor Pan Yuduan’s parents in their retirement. Yu means “please the parents”. I can’t speak for how they were pleased by their son’s creation but I really loved every part of it. There were so many small sections that felt so big as I walked through them, and there was a clear attention to detail throughout the whole garden. Some of my favorites were the grand rockery, the pond that encompassed the whole garden, and the exquisite jade rock. I loved the grand rockery because it really was so grand, the amount of rocks was stunning as well as the trees that were on top of them. The man made pond that encompassed the Yu Garden was so nice because of the huge koi fish and turtles that lived inside it. I have seen a whole lot of koi both in the United States and throughout my trip but these were among some of the biggest. The exquisite jade rock was also among my favorites because of the porousness and unique texture it possessed. Our guide said that sometimes incense would be lit at the bottom of the rock and the smoke would then pour from out all the holes making for a beautiful picture. In the other royal destinations I’ve visited during my two week stay, I saw many other jade rocks but this one was definitely set apart from the others because of its shape. Our tour guide also pointed out that on top of the walls in the garden there was a dragon whose body wrapped around the garden. Clearly any parent would be glad to get even half of this amazing gift from their children.

Outside of the garden was a shopping area where I was able to buy tea and other last minute souvenirs to bring to my family. I also enjoyed noodles with Nancy, Dora, and my other friends for lunch.

After my final presentation, our last dinner was really bittersweet. It was the last time I’ll probably enjoy good Chinese food for a while and also the countdown to the last time I would get to our Asian Institute friends Liliana, Dora, and Nancy before we left for the States.As the plane took off and the city of Shanghai got smaller and smaller I realized that my biggest regret is that I never learned to say good bye in Chinese, but regardless I’ll always miss China.

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