In my first year at Sheffield, I became really good friends with David, who is an international student from China. Over the Christmas holidays he went back home to China to see his family, and asked me if I would like to come visit him! This was an absolutely wonderful opportunity and it was so great to be able to meet his family and understand his background and culture more. I was able to try the famous Peking duck which was very nice!
I met him in Beijing and he took me to the Forbidden City and The Great Wall and all the best local restaurants! However, he had to leave to go back to Sheffield for exams so I stayed a bit longer and visited Shanghai by myself. This was a completely different experience! I didn’t find China a very touristy place and I was quite surprised to find that very very few people spoke English, which was perhaps just my own ignorance. I stuck out like a sore thumb and everyone stared at me everywhere I went. This made me quite uncomfortable, but I know it was meant with no bad intention. Then, my phone broke! Normally I wouldn’t have minded quite as much, but I had no ability to contact anyone, no internet access and it was all quite daunting in such an unfamiliar place. Along with this, the travel card I got from the bank was being rejected at all the ATM’s so I couldn’t get any money out either. It was definitely not a desirable situation to be in!
A few days later I managed to buy a cheap phone and sort out my bank card so it all worked out. China is a completely different world to England and I find it very fascinating, both their culture and history. Overall, I still had a great time in China and it was lovely to see a familiar face from home while on this year abroad.