4th July. Tuesday morning. Pudong International Airport. Shanghai. Right now I’m waiting at gates area for my flight to Vienna. Sitting with the view at planes that take off and are landing. I watch them and look through the space in the background thinking there – around 30 kilometers forward – is placed Shanghai. Of course I’m still at Shanghai, but in its one of the furthermost suburban.
Pudong New District. The place where the major time of the last year happened. I well remember the first time I arrived here: with humble Chinese (Nǐ hǎo, xièxie, and other basic words like these), no vision how place around my university looks like, no idea how the place where I’m going to live is called (I mean Caolu Town – 曹路镇), nothing!
Still I remember how I came with a pain in my left foot due to poison that a small fruit-fly infected me in Poland; around 40 degree Celsius and the guard of the university who take me around the Uni in the noon when I was suffering the pain of my foot, was sweating and yet the guard destroyed my luggage because he wanted to help me, but couldn’t handle to ride a bicycle and to hold my luggage… I can’t complain. I’m happy I didn’t gave up any time and I experienced the first year in Shanghai well!
Today, I know how:
– to get from the airport to the Uni area without taxi
– to ask in the restaurant for a dish: I can somehow read names in Chinese, I can discuss e.g. if the food should be spicy (辣(椒) – là(jiāo)) or sweet (甜 – tián) or whatever
– I know which major buses to use to get to the metro, city center…
– I can argue with taxists whether I noticed they’d like to cheat me on money!
– I know local attractions and still I get know about new one…
This year was a great examination of my skills: living far from friends/family, finding a self in some communities, getting in new relationships, etc. In general when I think about my life in Shanghai for now I can say nothing I’ve done should be regretted! Even mistake I made came to be “good” as they – and people who helped me in time of weaknesses – made me stronger, wiser. I dare to write this way as I really can see myself how I changed, how much I worked on and still work on my weaknesses and skills to become better and better!
When I think how much I learned in this year, I can only thank, thank and thank! To my family, my parents for giving me a chance and support in my study life; to people I met: from China, Singapore, the USA, from many many countries; I’m thankful to the International Community I belong to that I became a part of them, of you! If you read it and you know you helped me somehow, you were talking with me, gave some pieces of advice, a help hand. Thank you!
As a Catholic I’m also thankful to the God he let me get closer in believe. The least expected place to grow up in faith – China – I grew here the most! It’s thanks to the Church community (International Community) and thanks to people I met! I don’t know how it happened, but I’m happy it’s in China. A country where I feared to be chased because of believe. But it was wrong thinking. However, I know Christian in general are chased and perhaps the only Shanghai is a safe place for believers. Nevertheless, I’m happy I’m accepted and I do I accept people who are not Christian. Now I feel it completed, specially because here I live in a Muslim community as well.
The Hui minority from Xinjiang (新疆) who run the Street Food here in China, their presence let me get closer to Muslim believe. Friday’s Yuanshen Market nearby Lujiazui became the place I’d be in touch with Muslim, to be at their meeting in Mosque and to try their local dishes!
What Shanghai gave me as well is the proud from where I come from. Never felt such proud because of being Polish like here. It’s not only due to good words I hear about Poland, I started – even very recently – really appreciate my Homeland! Now, when I watch Poland from further perspective, ok, on the one hand I can be somehow ashamed how people behave in Poland and what I read on social medias; but on the other hand, NO ONE cares what happens in Poland – what bad happens – but how amazing is my country and how many values are hidden in our Polish community!
Specially I admired it after living in Shanghai itself! Alright, I’d develop Poland much more to make the country similar to what e.g. Shanghai is – as a metropolis or as I laugh “city-country”; but I really liked our Polish/European behavior, Savoir-vivre, cuisine, more than before! In this year I noticed how much I couldn’t stand living maybe not in Shanghai itself, but in general in China!
In before I used to abuse Polish/European culture telling we are worse because we have not that peace as Chinese have, we’re not polite and modest as they (Asian in majority) do! I used to use China as a place to get free from the European influences. Even as I remember I mentioned once I’d rather take a plane back to Shanghai – while being in Doha and waiting for a plane to Warsaw in January- than continue my flight to Poland.
It was too strong, but I don’t regret I said/wrote it! At least now I can see better how wrong I was – somehow – and how to accept some weaknesses I see in Poland/Europe. Why I write this way? I want to point out a thought that often can appear in someone, it is a kind of hate to the origin place you came from. Think for a while: is it that bad as you guess it is? Are there only enemies or you have family/friends as well? Maybe the situation that’s in your country is temporarily bad, but not that much you’d leave your country?
Now to make my writing clear, I don’t mean living in China is bad – it might be taken like this – I just contrast the living quality, now basing at cultural/behavioral aspect. Also the Chinese cuisine couldn’t replace the Polish/European one – this I mentioned in the previous writing as well! Simply, now watching at Shanghai/China and thinking about minutes that are left here, now I’m happy I lived my life well in Shanghai, I hope to do the same after the summer holiday; but the more I’m happy – again – I come back to Europe, to my family, friends! In the same time I understood what means to live in Homeland/in Europe when you consider how much you miss your dear and near people, whom you can achieve ONLY by plane, and still it’s too long time to come…
Now, having less than 10 minutes to boarding, I know I leave Shanghai with a huge baggage of experience and another one is waiting from September. The most happy I’m because of direct flight to Vienna, without any interchanges in meantime! Such direct way back is great to me as I do a jump into the European civilization at once! I don’t have to long any other hours somewhere else to arrive in civilization I’m well acquainted!
The Chinese world/civilization, even if match to me somehow, still is too odd, too different to get used to live here for longer time! I think and I know, people and their behavior just tire me the most. I don’t judge, make prejudice or something like this. Nevertheless, I let myself to give an annual impression of living in China/in Shanghai, including these good pictures and bad one. These first one you can read in other writings, can see from the picture, these second one I mention them here to end the summary at all!
Now entrancing the plane and waiting for take off, I only think about the view of Shanghai from above, wonder what the holiday in Poland will be like, hope that I’ll come back here with the new energy and perspective to live another year!