An Adopted Chinese American in Shanghai

You would think and Chinese in China would blend in. Think again! Not everyday, but whenever I meet new people or a stranger strikes up a conversation, it is naturally brought up that I was adopted. Despite my face as they point out, I am American and don’t speak Chinese. I wasn’t an American Born Chinese (ABC) yet I look and am Chinese. Next week I will be heading back to the province, Kunming where I was born to travel and visit my orphanage and wanted to write this post about living in China as an adult adoptee.

Everyone’s reaction has been very positive and it explains why my face is Chinese but the rest of me isn’t quite. From taxi drivers where I have explained it over a translation app, most reactions are understanding or saying something like “very good” and that “I’m lucky.” A new coworker even thought I was joking at first when I said I didn’t speak Chinese and complimented me on my English accent. Shanghai is such a metropolitan city where people from all over China come to work and live.

As the hundreds of thousands of girls adopted from China grow up, I have a feeling that more will want to live in the country they were born in. Shanghai is its own world compared to the rest of China and for me the perfect hub and home base. I will be here at least two more years and there is so much more to discover.

I love China and am looking forward to exploring more of it. It is such a diverse country rich in history and stunning landscapes. I love the contrasts between polite/direct, modern/history, tradition and so on. I am nervous but mostly excited for my trip next week! I haven’t been back since I was 10 and looking forward to it a lot. I have no idea what will happen, how I will feel or what I will learn. It’s going to be an adventure and I look forward to sharing it with you when I’m back πŸ™‚

-Kaila

The Shanghai Kid

Fabulous, expectation, advanced, pressure and lovely. These are all words I would associate with the “Shanghai Kid.” These past nine months teaching have given me incredible close insight into the world of kids growing up in Shanghai. There are so many sub-cultures that my anthropology degree has me constantly dissecting and categorizing daily observations. Education in Shanghai is constantly changing at a rate that I would bet is one of the highest in the world. There are shifts I have already seen in only eight months. It is an exciting industry to work in and I’m constantly looking at the differences/similarities to America and what additions I would make to strengthen different curriculums.

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24 Hours in Beijing and A Book

So I went to Beijing for 24 hours to meet Cass and have some fun before she went back to the States! I miss her already. We had the best time. Between Shanghai and Beijing, she went back to her hometown and had a profound and beautiful experience. It was great to meet her post her trip, talk about it and just have fun running around Beijing. I loved going to the wall with all the verdant and luscious greenery compared to the cold temperatures I experienced in February. Ps. I used “verdant” because it was one of classes vocabulary words. We can all expand our vocabulary!

We got to Beijing around 2, dropped our stuff at our hotel and hiked up to the park. It’s such a nice view up at the park to look down at!

A beautiful way to spend an afternoon in Beijing.

We dropped by Wangfujing Snack Street. Unfortunately half of the vendors were closed because they are doing remodeling.

My favorite snack! Duck pancakes. The street usually is crowded with scorpions, fried bugs and so much more food. Thank goodness the duck wraps weren’t on hold for the remodeling.

After this we went for manicures then attempted to go see the Olympic Birds Nest Stadium lit up at night. However, there was a huge event going on and we couldn’t get in vicinity of the Olympic Park area. Next time!

This is how you do the Great Wall with no one else crowding you. We had our hotel arrange us a driver, got up at 5:30am and drove 1.5 hours to the Mutianyu section for the opening at 7:30. This is the less crowded section and by the time we made it down at 10, there were all ready swarms of groups heading up.

I highly recommend taking the gondola up. That way you can walk downhill (mostly) on the walk to the area where you can either take the chairlift or toboggan down. Obviously I recommend the toboggan because it’s so fun! We headed back to Beijing and went straight to the Forbidden City which was 2 minutes walk away from our hotel!

We both were here together with our families in 2004 and are back together in 2019. Cass said that the two times she has been back to China has been with me! So special.

Last time I was in Beijing I didn’t have tickets to go inside the palace. They limit the daily amount of people to 80,000 and you can buy them in advance online 10 days before. We had tickets for the prior day but didn’t make it in time and fortunately were able to snag some tickets on the spot.

Best 20rmb I’ve spent! I got these two headbands for us and we became quite the attraction.

We also met some Spanish guys, traded hats around and spent the rest of the day exploring the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and Beijing before I dashed off to catch my train and head back to Shanghai.

AND I also finally read the book “Shanghai Girls” by Lisa See and loved it. I couldn’t put it down and finished it on the train. SO GOOD. It gave me such perspective on Shanghai and it is a beautiful story of family, love, tragedy and immigration. Mostly it is a story about people and trying to do what’s right in the moment.

I’ve started another one of her books, “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.”

Showing Off Shanghai

The Olson twins have taken Shanghai these last few days! Okay so we aren’t actually twins, but I just had my friend from the states come visit and was determined to show her Shanghai’s best. We have known each other since we were wee little things, grew up in the same neighborhood in Denver and went back to China with our families in 2004! It was so much fun to have her in town and she is off for the next few days traveling before we meet in Beijing next week for more Olson twin fun. The best part about having visitors is that you get to see where you live through fresh eyes. There is no rest for the wicked and everyday she pretty much fell asleep within minutes of the head hitting the pillow. I like to keep my friends busy and on the go go go!

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Shanghai Life Lately

I love a “life lately” post as it allows me to reflect on the latest and greatest and share with all of you! It is the most perfect weather in Shanghai right now, with sunny days that have a light breeze and aren’t too hot…yet. Summer is coming and it is going to be a struggle surviving the heat and humidity. Lately I’ve been ordering a lot of food and not cooking. I know people don’t believe me, but ordering and having food delivered is often cheaper than cooking. Welcome to shanghai and high consumerism! I love my delivery via moped. Lately I’ve also been thinking a lot. What’s new. I’ve been planning future trips, scolding naughty kids, singing Queen songs with my precocious students and wondering what’s the next step! So here’s a little glimpse into what I have been up to….

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Dating in Shanghai

I gave thought about writing this post for a while and there is no better time than the present! When I moved to Shanghai I was in a relationship and had confidence that it would work out long-distance and I had viewed my move as not forever. However, after only a few weeks it ended in what was a very unfortunate way as I was cheated on. I definitely did not see it coming and it was a huge shock to me. I don’t write this to shame anyone in the situation, but as a way to share my experience and let’s face it all we’ve all had breakups and unfortunately cheating is not an uncommon in relationships. People can say what they want about long distance relationships, but I think they can really work if both people are committed to making it work with a plan to eventually live in the same area again. That’s not my story but this is!

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I Got Netflix and The Show That Sucked Me In

I’m a millennial and have a smartphone, so of course this is not my first experience with Netflix. However I took a huge break from Netflix and haven’t watched any since moving to China. For one I really felt to busy and I would rather read a book, take a nap, go explore than get sucked in. However, this show got me. I reinstalled Netflix on my phone and stumbled across “The Bodyguard” which is a 6 episode season and WOW. It blew me away. The episodes are longer than the typical 45 minutes and this show is beyond anything I could expect.

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I’m Learning Chinese and Other Tidbits From Shanghai

(Very cool art exhibit from Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama)

The day has finally come! I have a mandarin tutor and am studying the language. Some may ask why it took the long; I’ve been living in Shanghai for 7 months. It is easy to get by in Shanghai with little knowledge of the language given the international and global culture of the city. HOWEVER, I did not want to be one of those foreigners who moved here and never took the time to learn the language beyond little phrases. There are plenty of those types of expats.

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