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When you choose to study abroad, you hope that you get to travel so you can make the most of the experience. Early on in the semester, you could already hear of the different travel plans other students were trying to fit into our semester here in Beijing. Xi’an, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Thailand and Korea were just some of the many options we all had to choose from. While on the Silk Road trip a few months back, some of us asked Bill, one of the TBC staff members, what he recommended we do for the National Holiday Break that we were all eagerly anticipating. Quite frankly, he said “Leave China”.

Flash forward a few weeks to National Holiday Break and I understand why he said that. To put it simply, if you thought China was already crowded, you could only imagine what it felt like to travel within the country when every other person in the country was doing the same thing. As much as we wanted to explore Asia that week, a few friends and I made our way to Shanghai instead because ticket prices to leave the country were too high. I remember when I first told my roommate we were going to Shanghai she said, “Wow, you’re so brave!”. Even after hearing this, and having Bill say we should leave the country, I underestimated the crowds we were about to come across. Emphasis on underestimated. It was definitely an experience because the crowds we encountered were probably some of the biggest I have seen in my life. Two-hour lines, incredibly packed subway rides and the never-ending pushing and shoving in order to walk forward – you name it, we experienced it all. When visiting the different sites around the city, we would make it a point to grab onto another person’s bag or arm in order to stick together. We even resorted to lifting a selfie stick up in the air to signal where we were incase someone got lost in the large pool of people.

Although I make it seem like it was a rough trip to get through, we enjoyed every second of our week there. Even with the crowds, we were able to see the YuYuan Gardens, travel to Zhujijao, walk along the Bund, visit the Jade Buddha Temple, and even go up the Oriental Pearl Tower. At times it was stressful but there was obviously nothing we could do to control the amount of people who wanted to see Shanghai. It was National Holiday so of course people wanted to travel. It’s comparable to how in the States, we choose to go out of town for Fourth of July weekend. We were there for the same reason everyone else was there so we couldn’t really complain. Besides, have you really experienced China if you haven’t experienced the National Holiday crowds?


By Joyce de Leon, Fordham University, Fall 2015 Student