New Blog, Who Dis?

Hi friends! If you followed along with my journey in China and would like to read about my more recent travels, I created a new blog, Meg’s Bold Escape, to continue keeping track of my adventures. Feel free to follow that blog if you are interested!

If you would like more of an explanation for why I created a new blog, my travel goals, etc, I would check out this post first. Don’t worry, all of my China posts have been copied over to the new blog and can be found here.

Linked below are some more recent places I’ve been since China:

San Francisco, CA during summer 2017 (in progress):

Spring break 2018 to Gatlinburg, TN:

Ontario, Canada during summer 2018:

Let me know what you think of the new blog, I would love to hear questions, comments, or suggestions! I hope to keep traveling with you all in the future!

-Megan

It’s Not Goodbye, It’s a See-You-Later

I apologize for waiting so long to write this post! Life back in the States has been pretty busy with unpacking, catching up with friends and family, a Chase Rice concert, and getting adjusted back to Indiana time. I have also been in the process of getting ready to move to Dearborn, Michigan on Sunday for my summer internship which I am beyond excited for! I think having 2 weeks at home before work was the perfect amount of time; it seems like my life is always in a constant state of transition, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m definitely more excited to explore Dearborn this summer, thanks to my experiences in China. China has taught me to embrace change and I’m going to try my best to continue to do that here, especially during this stage of my life! There is always an adventure everywhere you look, you just have to make sure to look every once in a while.

Going back to the flight and arriving at home: the flight back didn’t seem nearly as long as the flight to Shanghai. I guess I’ve just gotten used to flying and travelling; we also knew everyone a lot better than when we flew to Shanghai, so having 25+ other people to talk to was nice. Anyway, we landed in Chicago right on time and were so excited to be back home! We all made it through customs and got our bags relatively easily and then the sad part happened. I’m not going to call them goodbyes, because we will all see each other at Purdue (plus my squad of people also have plans to hang out at least 3 times this summer), but it felt really weird saying “see you later” to the people who have been like a second family to me for 4 months. I know I’ve talked about it a lot, but when you go to a country where you don’t speak the language or know anyone, the people you travel with are basically the only people that exist to you for your entire time abroad. Doing life with them literally every day and experiencing everything we did overseas together really has a way of bonding you all together in a special way.

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Arriving in Chicago.

After we said our “see you laters,” the group of us that were flying back to Indy headed to a different terminal to find our boarding gate. We had to go through security again and then we all ended up eating at Chili’s in the airport because we had about an hour until boarding. This is where a lot of the reverse-culture shocks happened:

  1. Being able to understand the people around you was weird. I definitely eavesdropped on a lot more conversations than normal. Also, the people here can understand what we say, so we can no longer openly talk about people right next to us. I’ll have to be extra careful about that.
  2. People here look like us! I also knew that I was back in America because I immediately saw an old guy wearing a camo cutoff shirt and a Chevy hat. Ahh, home sweet home.
  3. Restaurant etiquette. In China, you have to wave your server over and point to what you want, and they don’t necessarily wait on you like here in the States. I also brought a water bottle out of habit (you don’t get free cold water in China), and then I was asked what I would like to drink. Insanity! We could understand our server and tell her if we wanted a simple modification to our meal. We also had to remember to tip.
  4. American sized portions (and prices!). Food in China is cheap. Food in America is not (however, the portions are way bigger in the US). It took a second to realize that my chips and queso were actually 7 USD and not 7 RMB. Big difference there. I also used my debit card for the first time in 4 months, which felt really weird.

We ate and then boarded our small plane at around 7:15 and landed almost exactly an hour later back in Indy. Man, did it feel good to be home! Everyone got their bags and reunited with their families. My family and my two friends Ashlee and Hannah were there to greet me and it was so good to see them! I insisted on driving home (my parents drove my car to the airport, upon my request) even though I hadn’t really slept in like 40 hours, and it was amazing. I already had plans to wash and detail my car along with doing the oil change and tire rotation it was due for.

Jet lag didn’t hit me too bad initially (I would just get tired around 2 pm every day, but I managed to stay up all day), but I did have a few nights where I woke up at 2 or 3 am and couldn’t go back to sleep! The first Wednesday after I arrived back in the US, I actually came home and slept from 5-9 pm (and woke up thinking it was 9 am, whoops) and then went back to bed and slept from 11 to 11. I’ve gotten into the bad habit of sleeping in pretty late, which is really unusual for me. I’ll have to fix that when I start work on Tuesday!

The weirdest thing for me was that America didn’t really feel like home when we arrived. It was weird that driving my car home and sleeping in my own bed was weird. It felt weird drinking water out of the tap. It was weird looking out my window and seeing grass and trees instead of industrial complex. It was weird that I couldn’t walk upstairs to Graham’s room and have movie night with everyone whenever we wanted. These feelings of not knowing what was home only lasted for about a day, and then I was mostly back to normal. When I say I was back to normal, I don’t mean that everything was the same as before I left. Being home was the same, but I am not the same person that I left here 4 months ago and I am grateful for that.

I suppose this is where I end this blog. If you’ve been following my journey for these 4 months, or if this is the first post you’ve read, thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to share this with ya’ll. I’m happy that I was able to put my memories, pictures, and thoughts somewhere where others could read; along with providing me a way to have my entire journey summarized in one place! These last 4 months prove that a small-town Midwestern kid who has never traveled much before can survive (and actually thrive!) in a country and culture that is as different as night and day. Who knows, maybe I’ll post here occasionally as I experience new things and inevitably explore other parts of the world! This blog is one of my favorite things I’ve done in my life, and is also one of my proudest accomplishments from this trip. We may be back in America now, but I’ll always have my memories, pictures, and friends to remind me of what an amazing journey I’ve been so blessed to have.

Until next time,

-Megan

The Return to Meiguo, Beautiful Country

It feels like just yesterday I was on the way to Shanghai having no idea what I was in for for the next 4 months. Now, I am currently somewhere north of Alaska 6 hours into the flight back from Shanghai to Chicago! I can’t believe how fast this semester has flown by (pun intended) and it didn’t really settle in that we were leaving for America until I boarded the plane and saw friendly American flight attendants that spoke the best English I’ve heard in 4 months. One of them has a son that is going to Purdue in the fall! It was really, really nice to have a conversation with someone who understood every word I said. Other notable observations from the flight: having Diet Coke with ice (I literally haven’t had pop with ice in months, it really is an amazing combination), hearing announcements in American English instead of Chinese, and I was actually able to sleep really well for about 3 hours. I’m trying to stay awake until I get back to Indy at around 10 pm tonight so I can conquer jet lag and not waste any time sleeping during these next two weeks before I start work.

After studying for the first half of the week and taking (and hopefully passing) our finals Wednesday and Thursday, the next two days were spent going downtown and redoing some of our favorite things in the city. Almost immediately after our exam finished at noon on Thursday, Graham, TJ, and I had a quick last lunch at La Bamba and then Nick and I met up with some of the others at Cages. I enjoyed my last Boxing Cat Ringside Red Lager, played what was probably the longest game of cornhole ever, and enjoyed celebrating the end of the semester. I also tried sushi for the first time that night (not a huge fan, but it wasn’t bad). We headed back to Ziroom for the night and had our last movie night in Graham’s room. I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but our new movie night situation involves taking mattresses and laying them on the floor of someone’s room and hooking up a computer and speaker to this TV we “borrowed” from a hall closet in Ziroom. It’s pretty creative, in my opinion. My plan was to stay up pretty late the next couple of nights and sleep in to attempt to get back on American time. The staying up late worked, the sleeping in did not. I’m exhausted, but it’s a good exhausted.

It rained most of the day Friday, so Graham, Nick, TJ, and I didn’t head downtown until around 1 for xialongbao (soup-filled dumplings) and some last minute fake market and souvenir shopping. We also got friendship bracelets (we were supposed to all do a last trip to Nanjing and get them there, but the trip didn’t end up happening, so we settled for bracelets from the fake market instead). I’m really going to miss the fake marts when I get home. I also insisted that we go and get milkshakes at Bistro Burger one last time before dinner. These are literally the best shakes you will ever have in your life; Oreo Mudslide is definitely the way to go if you want to live to the fullest. After shakes, we met up with Tony for our last dinner at a Cantonese place and did the famous walk down Nanjing Road to the Bund one last time. This is definitely my favorite part of Shanghai; I’ve really grown to love Shanghai for the amazing city it is. Looking at the most incredible skyline in the world for the last time, it finally hit me that I’m really going to miss it here despite all of the cultural frustrations we’ve experienced (or “getting China’d,” as we like to call it). I couldn’t help but reflect and think about how far we’ve come since seeing the Bund for the first time when we arrived in Shanghai back in January. The past 4 months have gone so quickly, but we’ve all seen and experienced so much that you can’t remain in the same mindset you had before coming here. I’ve seen the absolute best and some of the worst parts of this country, and I’ve been here for so long that I honestly can’t remember what I was like before China.

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Wow I’m going to miss these people.

I believe that you need to experience the good and the bad to really understand what it is like to live in a different country. You can travel the world and stay in fancy hotels, lay on the beach, and do touristy things, but I don’t believe you’ve fully experienced a new place until you see how the everyday people live. We definitely had the good when we lived in Xuhui for the first 6 weeks and had a lot of the not-so-good when we moved way out to Minghang and lived off-campus for the last 12. Living in Ziroom taught me a whole slew of new lessons about living in Suburban China that I honestly don’t think I would have learned had we stayed downtown. We had to bike a mile to class every day and experienced how most Chinese people get around. We took engineering classes that were taught in a very different way than we’re used to and had to adapt to the Chinese learning style. We learned how to live without the everyday conveniences we were lucky enough to have when we lived downtown, such as dryers, free electricity, and endless food options. We’ve learned how to communicate despite the huge language barrier. I’m fortunate to have traveled and experienced all that I have here and I will never take that for granted. I’m so proud of what this group has been able to do in the 4 short months that we’ve been here.

As for me personally, I’ve gotten a lot out of this trip. I signed up to spend an entire semester in a country where I didn’t know the language or the culture, along with having no international experience whatsoever. I’ve been challenged in ways I couldn’t have imagined and have had so much fun living outside of my comfort zone. I traveled all over this country and have been in more airports in China than I have in the US. I’ve hiked mountains, ridden camels, seen historical monuments, slept in a yurt, and learned kung fu. I met people from all over the world and tried new food. I learned how to navigate a city with 27 million people. I did life with the same group of people for 4 months and they’ve become some of my best friends. I learned how to adapt and go with the flow when things don’t go as planned. I can now see the positive in every situation and see it as a way to grow and develop myself. I’ve become more open-minded. I am a better person now because of what I’ve done in China.

On that note, I’m going to wrap it up here and save the next couple of posts for when I actually get back home. Stay tuned to learn about my reverse-culture shock and first few days back in the best country in the world. The Chinese word for America, Meiguo, literally translates to “beautiful country” and you definitely can’t argue with that. Thanks so much for letting me share my stories and adventures with ya’ll; turns out, engineering students can also learn to enjoy writing!

-Megan

The Final Countdown

As I’m sitting here with less than a week left in this country, I’m struggling to come up with the words to describe how it feels to be in the homestretch of this experience. I’ve determined that I’m more than ready to come home, but I’m not going to let the anticipation get in the way of enjoying my last week in China. I’m finding that the small culture differences are bothering me a little more than usual, and I wish that I could just drive my car instead of biking or taking the subway. As the weather gets warmer, so does the temperature on the metro when you’re stuck on there for an hour with thousands of smelly people. It’s just as pleasant as it sounds.

China has taught me a lot in the 4 short months that I’ve been here; the first lesson being learning to adapt and live outside of your comfort zone. I’ve been outside of small-town Indiana for 4 months! That’s nuts! It hasn’t always been easy by all means, and I noticed that it took me a little longer than most to adjust and get used to life here. I was pretty overwhelmed with culture shock along with simply living in a city this big! At home, I just jump in my car whenever life gets crazy or stressful and go for a drive. I obviously couldn’t do that here, and I had to come up with other ways to deal with the feelings of being out of place and missing life back home. Even though I have adapted and thoroughly enjoyed my time here, it is exhausting to do life in a completely different way and I’m ready to go home and be that small town girl that almost got left behind for 4 months. Now that I’ve got a pretty good mix of two opposite cultures, I’m interested to see how that will change my views when I get home.

Another thing I’ve learned about myself since being in China is that I now have a sense of adventure. I might not be the most world-traveled, cultured person out there, but I do recognize the value in trying and experiencing new things. It’s also just plain fun! For me, I’ve found that it doesn’t matter a lot about what I do, it matters who I’m with and I’m super thankful for the group of people here that I’ve traveled all over the country with. You guys made all of the trips we took so memorable! From delayed flights to hiking mountains to exploring new cities to sleeping in a yurt, I’ll never forget all of the things we’ve done here! I’m lucky to call these people some of my best friends and I know that we will have a blast at Purdue for the remainder of our time there.

All life lessons aside, this past week was mostly spent studying for our finals on Wednesday and Thursday (I almost forgot what studying was) along with our last burger night on Wednesday. Some friends and I stayed in a hostel downtown on Friday night and then went and met our old Chinese culture teacher, Weiqi, for lunch on Saturday afternoon. We went to Grandma’s Kitchen, a restaurant near our old campus that has really good food at an affordable price. Weiqi is so much fun and it was really good getting to see her before we all leave on Saturday! After lunch, Weiqi told us about this DIY Magnum ice cream store that was set up on the rooftop of a mall in People’s Square. We’re not the type to refuse ice cream, so we all headed that way after lunch.

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Our lunch.

We had to wait in line for about 30 minutes before we were let into the area where you make your ice cream. For 28 RMB, you picked what flavor of ice cream, what kind of chocolate you wanted it dipped in, 3 toppings, and a chocolate drizzle. I swear, these were the prettiest ice cream bars I’ve seen in my life. I’ve never heard of Mangum bars before, but they’re really cheap here and apparently found in the US as well. After taking the first bite of my ice cream, I understood the hype. The ice cream tasted as good as it looked and I couldn’t get enough of the chocolate coating! To top it all off, we were on an outdoor rooftop with an amazing view of downtown.

 

 

After we were finished with our ice cream, a few of us stopped by the fabric market to pick up some shirts we had made the previous week (I had a flannel made). We picked up our stuff and headed back to Minhang (*sigh*). The first half of the week will be filled with studying (it really is less “studying” and more of “learning the concepts for the first time”). It hasn’t hit me yet that we are leaving; this is my last Sunday in China and I had just taken my second-to-last trip to downtown. Shanghai is an incredible city, and I will definitely miss spending time here, but it is (almost) time to come home! There are 25 of us on the group flight from Pudong to Chicago Saturday afternoon, and then another handful of us will catch a connecting flight into Indianapolis later that night. Because of the time difference, I’ll be back in Indiana only 6 hours the same day after our departure from Shanghai after a 15 hour flight!

-Megan

The Shanghai Auto Show

The Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition took place from April 19th to 28th. Seeing as how we don’t have class on Thursdays, it was the perfect opportunity to go downtown and check it out. All of the car people (me, Graham, Nick, Mason, Aman, TJ, and Alex) left at 10 and took the metro to the end of line 2 and arrived at the National Exhibition and Convention Center a little before noon. We bought our tickets and headed in. The place was huuuuuuge and was divided up into 4 different “leaves” on each floor with a circular food court area in the middle. We started in the leaf that we were closest to and slowly made our way through the whole show.

An interesting thing about auto shows in China are all of the Chinese brand cars that are basically rip-offs of well-known American and European brands. For example, there is a car company called “Land Wind” and the cars are pretty much an exact replica of Land Rover. We also saw a fake Mercedes G-Wagon at the booth literally right next to Mercedes, which was a bold move in my opinion. Regardless, there was pretty much every car brand, from Ferrari, Maserati, and McLaren (you couldn’t go up and sit in them unless you were a serious buyer, which we obviously weren’t) to Volkswagen, Buick, and BMW. The Chinese absolutely love BMW and Volkswagen, so those booths were constantly crowded with people.

Since I know that you all are wondering- we found Ford on the second floor of the convention center next to Honda and Toyota. Ford had the best display by far, and I’m not just saying that because I’m totally biased, theirs was a lot more interactive than the others. They had a virtual reality zone where it felt like you were driving the SUVs, a Raptor that they had on a hydraulic lift you could go up in, a station to make Ford pins, and a cutaway 1.0L EcoBoost engine. It. Was. Amazing. I obviously took part in all of the activities and was like a kid in a candy store. The Raptor was the only truck they had (makes sense because there isn’t a large truck market in China), the Ford Everest is the large SUV they have instead of the Expedition, and we were able to sit in the new Mustang. I’m even more excited to work for them this summer (if that’s even possible).

Perhaps the most exciting thing that happened all day was the Foton truck booth. If you’ve seen my post about our visit to BFCEC in Beijing (see Home? No, That’s Just Cummins), you’ll know that Cummins has a joint venture with Foton here in China, and they put engines in the light-duty Foton trucks. They had an entire display of “the new Cummins X12 engine” in front of one of them. I got really excited because that is the engine my dad did and it was super cool getting to see it shown off in Shanghai. I later found out that they didn’t in fact use the X12, it was actually the ISG and they just changed the sign to X12 because it was new and exciting. This was a very Chinese thing to do because they don’t really know a whole lot about the engines or care about the specifics. Even though the ISG engine was incorrectly labeled as the X12, it was still really awesome to see Cummins representin’ over here.

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This is actually the ISG.

The auto show was supposed to close at 7, however, everything started closing down at 6 so we really had no choice but to leave an hour early with the crowd. In China, always assume that closing time is an hour to an hour and half earlier than what is stated. We had been there for 6 hours and pretty much saw everything, so we were fine with it. We headed back to the crowded metro station and went downtown for dinner before returning to Minhang around 10:30. For how annoying it is to get downtown from where we live, I still somehow manage to do it multiple times a week. But our days of spending hours on the metro are limited (how is it May 1st already??); we now only have 12 more days until our flight back home!

-Megan

Just Another Day (Week) in Paradise

Those who know 90’s country music will get the Phil Vassar reference in the title (I may or may not be listening to my old country playlist right now), but all songs aside, the week following our Inner Mongolia/Huashan trip would turn out to be pretty busy. I did end up doing my homework due Monday before we left for the trip (kudos to me for actually working ahead for once), so I didn’t have to worry about that once we returned, so I blogged and downloaded pictures all day on Monday. It was also good to catch up with some of my other friends who didn’t go on our trip since I hadn’t seen them for almost a week!

On Tuesday, me and some others joined the Purdue MSE 230 class for a company visit to Saic Volkswagen in Shanghai. It was near the Auto Museum in the northwestern part of Shanghai, so the TA for that course booked a bus for us and invited other students to tag along. The visit sounded cool to me, even though I had already seen the Auto Museum. Graham, Nick, and I signed up to go and then skipped the museum and went downtown after the tour. The actual Volkswagen facility was really cool- we were able to see entire cars being assembled! The only complaint I had was that we went way too fast; they had us ride on golf carts and really sped through the building so I feel like I missed a lot of cool stuff.

Following the tour, TJ, Graham, Nick, and I took the metro downtown and went to the propaganda museum. The museum houses a bunch of propaganda posters from the Cultural Revolution and was really interesting. When you try to find the museum, you’ll think you’re lost because it’s literally in the basement of an apartment complex. We didn’t get there until about 4:30 and the museum closed at 5, so we had a very quick 30-minute walk through of the place, which was the perfect amount of time because the museum was pretty small. It was really neat to see though, and a great way to kill some time before meeting up with David and Mitch at Shanghai Brewery for buy one get one free burgers. I’m really going to miss nights like these when I come home.

Wednesday would be the day that I would finally find a solution to my stolen bike problem. Graham helped me find a “forgotten” bike on our way to lunch. There were surprisingly a lot of unlocked bikes, but I wanted to find one that looked forgotten because I felt kind of bad about stealing someone’s ride. It’s not really stealing; I’m going to use the bike for two weeks and then leave it in the same spot we found it in so it’s more of an extended borrowing. We found one that was pretty rusty outside of the Middle Building and it looked like it needed some loving, so I hopped on and claimed it as mine. I decided to call her “Ratchet Rhonda” because the seat was broken, the kickstand was bent, and the brakes didn’t really work, but she would do for the next two weeks. Graham and I then rode to a small hardware store because we had to get materials for our heat and mass transfer project. All we needed was some styrofoam, a hot glue gun, and empty water bottles to set up an experiment to measure the heat transfer coefficient through the bottles within an “adiabatic” chamber. We ended up finding a styrofoam cooler in the trash on our way that would be the perfect size for our experiment and found the rest of the materials at a hole in the wall hardware store. School is boring I know, but I’m telling you this because we literally had to tie the styrofoam cooler to the back of my bike in order to transport it, and the sight of me riding a rusty stolen bike with a bunch of trash styrofoam tied to it was such a ridiculous sight. We literally couldn’t stop laughing for the entire ride back to the lab.

I’ve gotten pretty tired of eating the same food at the canteen on campus, so a few times a week we’ll go to our usual restaurant for lunch, La Bamba. It is a mediocre Mexican restaurant close to campus that has ridiculously cheap deals every day of the week. Tuesday is 15 RMB quesadillas, Wednesday is 15 RMB tacos, Friday is 15 RMB burritos, you get the gist. The staff all recognizes us and immediately starts cooking a bunch of whatever is on sale that day as soon as we walk in because we’ll order like 15 quesadillas at a time! They also give us free chips and salsa when we have a big group come in. La Bamba has become the usual hangout spot; we ate and played euchre for a couple of hours on Friday after class and also went for lunch on Wednesday. They also have decent internet, so I may wind up studying for finals there instead of my desk at Ziroom.

Speaking of finals, I have one on Wednesday and Thursday of the week after next. Maybe one of these days I’ll find the motivation to study. Today is not that day.

-Megan

The Most Dangerous Hike in the World

The Plank Road in the Sky on Mount Hua was one of the two things on my bucket list for when I came to China (the other was the Great Wall). They say it’s the most dangerous hike in the world and supposedly 100 people die every year on it. You walk on a series of 2×4’s nailed into the side of a mountain 7000 feet up in the sky only connected by a small harness. I saw some videos and pictures of it before I came here, and immediately decided that I had to do it before I came back to the US or I would regret it for the rest of my life. Speaking of coming back to the US, I am currently writing this on the flight back to Shanghai, aka my last flight in China until we all return home to the land of the free. It’s a little bittersweet; I’m really looking forward to coming home but it’s strange that I won’t have any more crazy weekend adventures like this.

I started the morning at about 60% of my full energy level. I felt the beginning of a cold coming on and my throat was hurting a little bit, I’m pretty sure I broke a toe from jumping off my bunk bed the morning before, and I was still pretty tired from the Inner Mongolia trip. Even though I had quite a few reasons not to hike, nothing was going to stop me from doing this plank walk today. We left the hostel at 7:30 and took a bus to the scenic area ticket office in order to buy another bus ticket to take us up the mountain to the cableway station. This is a good place to mention that we got completely price-gauged at every stage simply getting to the plank road. We paid 40 RMB for a bus, 126 RMB for the cable car (both were only one-way), 100 RMB just to get into the park, and 30 RMB for a harness to do the walk. Luckily, we knew about this beforehand and came prepared (thanks Lucas and Emily).

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View from the cable car entrance.

Mom, this is where you stop reading.

We finally reach the part of the mountain where you actually hike after a 15 minute cable car ride and find the plank road on a map pretty quickly. We took the fast way there since we were a little pressed for time, and reached the walk in about 30 minutes. Then, we had to wait in line for close to an hour. The waiting path was really narrow and there was two-way traffic on it, so people kept squeezing past us to get by after they finished the walk. I still wasn’t very nervous about the walk at this point even though everyone I’ve talked to said that waiting is the worst part because the anticipation keeps building. Maybe it was just because I was tired or the fact that we couldn’t see the actual planks yet, but I was still waiting for the nerves to kick in. We got our harnesses and eventually see the beginning of the walk: a series of metal bars nailed between two sections of the mountain that lead straight down. You were supposed to hook your carabiners on a cable that ran alongside the makeshift ladder until you reached the planks.

At this point, I’m STILL not scared, just really excited. We reached the planks and slowly made our way across them. The path itself was pretty narrow and there were people going both ways on it. Once you build your confidence by going across once, the way back is a piece of cake and people would make their way around you by unhooking their carabiner and stepping around you while you ducked under their harness. We took a lot of pictures despite the risk of dropping our phones 7000 feet down the mountain, and I even got a picture of me leaning back off the side of the mountain even though the guards kept telling me no because it was “too dangerous.” I personally think that if you allow people to risk their lives doing this walk, you lose all credibility when deciding what is and isn’t “too dangerous.” I’ve gotta say, there’s no better adrenaline rush than hanging off the side of a mountain by only a small harness. It was completely exhilarating and I loved every second of it.

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Nothing can describe how this moment felt.

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Not a better adrenaline rush in the world.

I can now say that I survived the world’s most dangerous hike and didn’t even freak out once! The walk itself wasn’t very long; you do the planks and then reach a point where there are just holes in the mountain you step in. After we got off the planks, we had a snack lunch and started heading down the mountain. I was pretty tired, so once I did what I came here to do, I was more than ready to head back. We still got some good photos of the scenery though! The journey back to Shanghai would be quite the trek; we first had to catch the cable car down the mountain and get on the bus back to our hostel, find a taxi to the Huashan Railway Station, take the 40 minute bullet train back to Xi’an and get a taxi to the airport quickly, and then board our flight for the Pudong airport where we would then have to take an hour taxi ride back to Ziroom. We got in at around 12:30 am and I went to bed immediately since I had an early class in the morning.

So that wraps up what was probably the craziest weekend of my life. We did so much traveling in the past few days- from spending over 10 hours in a van, taking 3 flights in 5 days, and catching trains, taxis, and buses multiple times daily, we’ve literally done it all. This was my last big trip while I’m in China, and there couldn’t have been a better or more exciting way to end this whole study abroad experience! I’m looking forward to a fun week, taking a one-night trip to Nanjing next Wednesday, and then hopefully passing my finals the week after that and then I’ll be on a plane back to the US! Thanks for reading about all of my travels, it truly means so much to me that you all have stuck around for this long! I’ve really grown to love writing about all of the adventures I’ve been fortunate enough to have over here, and I’m glad I could spend this semester sharing them with you. I’ll keep writing as long as y’all keep reading.

-Megan