May and June Recap

July 10, 2017
The last month before school ended was pretty eventful for me. There were birthday brunches, going away parties for non-returning teachers, and plenty of opportunities to socialize. My first year in Shanghai, I was more into exploring the city and just having a few close friends. I was wary of the atmosphere at our school because it can get pretty gossipy, so I tried to stay closed off and just stick to those I knew. Plus, I came to Shanghai with my close friend Scott who was so entertaining that I just simply preferred his company to others.

By the end of the year this year, I decided to go out a lot more. I feel like in the last few months, I was able to become better friends with so many more people. Besides that, I got to know other teachers who are actually really cool. I'm relieved that I ended the year with a strong finish because at the beginning of the year, I was not very social. Not on purpose, but because I needed to heal from my surgery. 

Here is a recap of how I spent my the last 1.5 months of my second year in Shanghai...

*I moved from living on my school's campus to going to off-campus housing in a more residential area. I was worried about the whole moving process, but my friend's Chinese wife graciously offered to organize for movers to meet me. Thank goodness she arranged that for me just because I wouldn't have known how/been able to communicate that in Chinese. I ended up paying over $100 to move, but it was worth it to not have to do it myself. It's not like I could have lifted my couch, anyway. I didn't have the movers take all of my stuff because I was staying on campus for the last week of school. Long story short, I ended up leaving more behind than I needed to and caused myself to make four trips from campus to my new apartment in a taxi with a suitcase full of what I'd left behind. It seemed my friends did the same thing to themselves, so at least I was able to commiserate with them and split a taxi. It was pretty miserable going out in very hot and sticky weather trying to lift heavy suitcases with a bad back. At least that's over with and now I can just enjoy my new place. I'm SO much happier here! I feel more like an adult and can get food directly delivered to my door. 

* I got to try out a new themed bar that opened up in Shanghai called Wonderland. I'm sure you can guess what the theme entails based on the name of the bar. There's a bar area inside as well as comfy couches and a table all set up for tea. Additionally, there is outside seating, but Tara and I didn't want to sit there because we preferred to admire the decor inside. The back of the bar has a mural with the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, Tweedle Dee, mushrooms, teacups, etc. At the bar, the lights are surrounded by decorated hats, and you have the option to have alcohol served to you in a teapot, which you can then pour into tea cups. I'm a sucker for themed bars, and this one had a fun atmosphere. I will be back!

* My co-teacher took me to Suzhou. We had fun, but we both agreed that we would never leave Shanghai again during a Chinese National Holiday unless we were leaving China altogether. Suzhou was madness and was so packed with people that we couldn't actually do anything we intended to do! We spent an hour driving around before we could even find a parking space. The only place we saw parking was at a hotel, so we went back there to park the car, but that meant we had to eat there, too. Luckily, the restaurant was rather nice and there was even live music. Since we wasted so much time getting to Suzhou because of the traffic and then trying to find a parking spot, after we ate, we only had time to walk around for a little bit. I got to see some Suzhou silk shops, stalls full of snacks and local specialties, souvenir shops selling fans and tea, etc. 

Like I said, we still enjoyed ourselves because we made the most of it, but I would like to go back to Suzhou in the fall on just a regular weekend so that I can experience the museum (a 2 hour wait when we went) and the gardens (so full of tourists that it didn't look pleasant). At any rate, it was so nice of my co-teacher to offer to take me to Suzhou just because I said I hadn't been before.

*At the last minute, I decided to go to a concert. The artist Benjamin Francis Leftwich was coming to Shanghai, and a bunch of teachers from my school were planning on seeing him live. I never bought a ticket beforehand because I had never heard of this artist, but then one of my friends couldn't go, so I decided to just buy her ticket, go, and check him out. I wasn't expecting much, but I ended up loving the music. He's such a cool, down-to-earth guy who spent awhile after the show engaging with his fans, and his voice...amazing! My last concert before this one was years ago (Lady Gaga), so it was nice to be out listening to live music again!

* I finally got to try Liquid Laundry's brunch, and it was just as great as everyone said! I opted for the Artichoke-Spinach-Dill Benedict and wasn't disappointed. Of course I had to save room for a cinnamon roll for good. A group of us also tried another place for our friend's birthday brunch called Kafer. It was so posh in there that even though we were wearing dresses we felt underdressed. Some people were there getting their wedding photos, so you can imagine how nice it was. It was 400 RMB for a free flow and all-you-can-eat brunch. Yeah, it seems like a lot of money, but we had prosecco, mimosas, tons of cold dishes, cheese (harder to come by in Shanghai), and desserts. There was also a menu of entrees and we were allowed to order anything we wanted from the menu as well! Last but not least, there's a good view of the Bund and Huangpu River from the restaurant. I liked it so much that I would take someone visiting Shanghai there for one of their meals.

Tara and I also made it out to try Goose Island Brewhouse. They had more than 10 different kinds of beer on tap and a menu with typical bar food like nachos, wings, cheese fries, etc. With how many different restaurants I've gotten to try over the past few years, I still feel like I've barely scratched the surface of all the ones I'd love to try in Shanghai.

I also had a chance to visit one of my favorite coffeeshops in Shanghai--Lanna Coffee. They import their coffee beans from Yunnan Province! It would be my favorite place, but sometimes it gets too crowded, as it is a popular spot. Look at how cute it is on the inside, though! Luckily, when I went the last time, I was able to snag a seat.

I also was sure to set aside plenty of time for manicures, pedicures, and massages, as those seem to no longer be a treat, but more like part of my spoiled lifestyle here in Shanghai. Hey, when it's affordable, why not? Also, those massages helped me to destress a lot because I was feeling tons of anxiety about my upcoming surgery. For massages, I mostly went to Dragonfly, which caters to foreigners. While I will go to the small massage places on the street for a foot massage, I appreciate the cleanliness of Dragonfly and don't mind to pay a bit more for that.

What was last month like for you? 
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