I’ve lived in big cities for most of my life. I hate the city. they’re all the same. Something that I came up with while I was here was “In the back of a taxi, every city feels the same”. And that is probably the truest thing I’ve ever said. All cities ARE the same: smog, people, noises, smells. All cities smell like hot garbage mixed with pee; and Shanghai is not different.
When people ask me ‘how’s China’ I respond that it’s basically like being in New York City except I can’t understand anybody and nobody can understand me (which, again, isn’t that different from being in New York City). People are surprised by my response because half of people I talk to have this perception of China being this ancient Eastern culture with a lot of antiquated traditions and the other half view China as a communist military state like North Korea or East Berlin circa Cold War Era. They are almost disappointed to hear that, here in Shanghai at least, I take the subway, I go out to clubs and bars that play Western (mostly American) music, and I shop at mostly high end American retail stores (okay, I don’t actually do any of those things but if I wanted to I totally could). What I’m getting at, is that the city of Shanghai has been fully ‘Americanized’.
What I HAVE to do in any city I am in is find an oasis. A place where I can forget I am in a city and feel as free as I did as a kid growing up in Ohio. So I’ve found my oasis in Shanghai and it has changed the entire game. Fudan’s campus is filled with little green spaces that are peaceful, and calm, and beautiful, and…smells nice. And that is where my research is heading: How are urban sustainable farms in Shanghai acting as an oasis for both the farmers and the people who buy from them? More soon!