Throughout my adventure in Shanghai, I have met many locals that I now consider my friends. Though I speak little Chinese, I am able to communicate through body language/gestures. I hold daily conversations about various subjects, which has made for an interesting experience. I talk about everything ranging from the weather to family and food. Being in Shanghai has taught me that despite being from a different place on the globe, it doesn’t mean you can’t have anything in common with someone else. Here are a few of my personal experiences.
1. There are two couples that work at a local convenience store in walking distance from my apartment. When I walk in, I am always greeted with warm smiles and friendly conversation. I learned that both couples have young children being raised by their families, who live hours away. They love to show me pictures and tell me about their children. I too have a child whom I miss very much. We love to show each other pictures of our children and I learned one of the ladies has a son the same age as my son. I never would have thought I would have so much in common with these ladies. We can relate on how hard it can be sometimes being so far away from family.
2. In one of my favorite places to get rice, I have met an amazing family. A hardworking couple, a cheerful grandmother, and the most adorable little girl. I have become a regular in the restaurant and when I come in they merely ask, “to go?” On days when I am headed back to my apartment from a long day of class, the mother notices my intricately braided hair. First, she examines it and tells me how beautiful it is, then she proceeds to gesture that she doesn’t know how to do it. She asks would I do her daughter’s hair in any style of my choosing. When I return, her daughter eagerly waits for me to start. As I French braid her hair, the entire family, as well as customers, come to watch the technique I use. When I finish, the family thanks me and the next day I see pictures of my work and how much the daughter loves her hair. It’s surprising that something as simple as braiding hair has created such a great relationship.
These are just two of my stories where I realized I had more in common with the locals than I would have ever imagined. When I first came to China, I thought I had nothing in common with anyone, but I glad I was proven wrong. I’ve truly created meaningful relationships with my newfound friends. After I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried communicating with people, I quickly realized they are just like me. Even though we grew up in very different environments, we share similarities.
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