New Beginnings


Shanghai. Home to over 24 million people. One of the largest cities on the planet and here I am. I’ve barely been outside of America let alone flown half way across the planet. Sixteen hours’ time difference from everything I know in a city ripe with opportunity. The only thing you can come in with is no expectations because what is there to expect? It is an unknown world completely full of people I have never met before, including the people I am living with and taking on the vast city with. I know nobody. Yet this first week here has been truly intoxicating.


This city is amazing. From the street vendors to the skyscrapers, everything about Shanghai grabs you and pulls you in and you can’t help but fall in love with it. You feel like you’re in a movie everywhere you go and everything that you’re seeing can’t be anything but virtual reality. You look across the Bund and see the Pearl Tower, the World Financial Center, and Shanghai Tower lit up at night with ads playing full length and you feel like you’re in a sci-fi movie.  Being in Shanghai is like being in New York City on steroids and I think that’s the only way to express it. Everything is faster, brighter, taller, and it just feels like I’ve time travelled.

Can you tell I love it here?


The people on my trip are great, too. Even though we are from all corners of the country, with all different backgrounds, this trip is already bringing us together despite it being our only initial commonality. There’s something stimulating about being complete strangers yet already becoming really good friends at the same time. We catch ourselves using the same phrases, popping off with the same slang, and having the same humor despite our regional differences. The spectrum of personalities is astounding as well. We have kids from massive universities with huge social presences to small private and ivy league schools with impressive academic backgrounds. For all of our differences, we mesh astoundingly well. I’m grateful I get to spend the next few months with these people because no matter how great the opportunity, the people that you spend your time around can really attribute a lot in making or breaking your experiences in life, and even more specific, abroad.


It’s refreshing coming abroad and meeting a whole new set of people and having so many “firsts” again. Being so accustomed to the US and our daily lives we often fall into such a routine that we stop seeking new experiences. We forget what it’s like to be open to new ideas, cultures, and lifestyles because we are so heavily engrained in our own lives. Shanghai is so new and every day is a new adventure. I absolutely cannot wait to explore Shanghai and China this spring with my new friends and really see what this country and this city has to offer. Shanghai is definitely a new beginning.


Riley Shulman


I’ll be sure to upload as many pictures and videos as I can, too! The connection is spotty at times and takes some time to download. 谢谢!

Also amazing photo credit to my new friend Gwen Nguyen!