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

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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Sheryl in Shanghai Part I

Well, this is one of the first few extended moments I’ve had to sit down and do some writing on what I’ve been up to since my mom arrived last week! It’s really been a whirlwind and I give her major props for keeping up the the crazy long days and excursions I’ve planned. I met my mom at the airport, shuttled her back to my apartment and told her to pack for the next day! What a trooper. I wonder where I get my go go go attitude and lifestyle…..for those of you that don’t know me that’s a joke. I got it from my mom, the original energizer bunny.

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Beijing Part III

So much happened on our second day that I didn’t include so this is filling in the blanks and summing up the trip! We were at a mall doing as the Chinese do, which is shopping when we heard the sounds of the dragon dance! I have grown up listening to this tune and it somewhat is a traumatic sound given that I was scared of them when I was little. This dance was the best one I’ve ever seen and so intricate!

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Beautiful Beijing Part II

This was by far my favorite part of the trip and an experience I will treasure for some time to come! It was so special! I’ve been to other parts of the Great Wall and this one was the most special. Not to mention that it was lightly snowing with ominous clouds that added to the beautiful morning. You take the cable car up the wall and can walk the section before either taking a chairlift down or as we opted, a toboggan! I really enjoyed this day so much and it’s part of what makes Beijing and China so special.

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Beautiful Beijing Part I

Happy Chinese New Year! For three days of my break, I went to Beijing with two friends and had a great time in the freezing cold! We visited all the tourist spots, had delicious food and the highlight was going to the Great Wall! I have been to different sections of the wall and this without doubt the best one so far! Loved it. This post is broken into three parts because even though I was only there for three days, a lot happened!

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The New and Latest from Shanghai

Life lately has been a lot of the same with teaching and my daily routines here. There is something so lovely about a routine! My semester is wrapping up before Chinese New Year. I will have two intensive sessions in February before the new semester starts in March. I am so proud of all my students and every single one of them has made so much progress in English and coming into their adorable personalities. Last week I was told that I am now a real chinese person because my hair is black. They are the funniest little humans. So here’s to the old, new and exciting plans for the future!

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First Few Days of 2019: Shanghai Edition

Ni Hao 2019! 2019 is here and the holidays have had me in a state of sentimental reflection thinking about the past year and immensely looking forward to this one! There are so many moments in life, and even more now, that I pause and think “is this real life.” So many funny moments that are absurd, magical, wonderful and sometimes heartbreaking. I spent New Years Eve with my favorite British gals, Stacey and Fran eating delicious food, watching Taylor Swift on Netflix and popping some Proseco to ring in 2019. I was also introduced to the show the Inbetweeners, had a proper cup of British tea and danced around in a circle singing some old English song.

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Lessons in Life

You know you live somewhere and are not just visiting in the smallest of ways that are all related to people. Life is about relationships. Not just with our family and friends and coworkers, but the daily people we pass by and have interactions with. Living somewhere is when the local Family Mart cashiers know you like the brown sugar syrup in your latte, the bakery cashier assumes you want honey lemon ginger tea whe she sees you and the dumpling lady doesn’t ask for your order because she knows you want two orders of the first dumpling on the menu. I have been listening to a lot of podcasts lately and one was talking about making impact in the world and how they are often big and small. Yet, these labels are just what they are, labels. Because what is often perceived as a big impact is actually much smaller compared to the waves that small impacts continue to make.

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