Slice of Seattle in Shanghai

Rachel Palfini

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Today, I joined a fellow CIEE student (Margot) at a coffee shop (Magodo’s 520 Coffee) across from ECNU to work on homework together. I’ve been to lots of coffee shops in Shanghai and they are very similar to the US. Starbucks and Coffeebean & Tea Leaf are basically the same, and they are the only places where you can guarantee someone speaks English. I’ve also tried out some non-US brand coffee shops, like Muskcat Coffee, and those are also basically the same as Starbucks.

The entrance to Magodo's 520 Coffee. Never would have expected what I found inside based on the sign.

The entrance to Magodo’s 520 Coffee. Never would have expected what I found inside based on the sign.

BUT this place, Magodo’s 520 Coffee, is special. I walked in, not knowing what to expect and then *bam* it was like I had been transplanted back to the Pacific Northwest.  The interior is all brick with fake aged wooden tables and fake trees/plants everywhere. There are tons of bookshelves and interesting trinkets creating an overall rustic feel––not like I’m living in one of the biggest cities in the world.

At Magodo's 520 Coffee, they don't give you a number, they give you a bear!

At Magodo’s 520 Coffee, they don’t give you a number, they give you a bear!

Go Canada!

Go Canada!?

Note the bricks and bear painting.

Note the bricks and books.

Really cool lighting fixtures and fake trees.

Really cool lighting fixtures and fake trees.

Books on books!

Books on books!

If you lacked a companion, there were stuffed bears scattered to make you feel less awkward.

If you lacked a companion, there were stuffed bears scattered to make you feel less awkward.

We tried to order a waffle with the toppings on the side, on two separate plates....this is what we received. We're still working on our Chinese ordering skills!

We tried to order a waffle with the toppings on the side, on two separate plates….this is what we received. We’re still working on our Chinese ordering skills!

I’ve come to really appreciate these moments in Shanghai. All day, every day, I’m bombarded by the fact that I’m in China. Whether it’s riding the bus/metro and hearing the stops announced in Chinese, walking down the sidewalk filled with street food vendors, or trying to buy lens wipes (which apparently don’t exist in China), I never really have a moment to escape and pretend that I’m somewhere else, somewhere familiar. Magodo’s 520 Coffee, is one of those places though, where I can get a few moments of escape from the bustling city.

Another one of my moments of escape was at this park two weekends ago. It was on my way to finding the Confucian temple and I had gotten stranded in the middle of the huge street on one of the medians. The pedestrian cross signal was on and I had almost made it across the street, but even when the pedestrian cross signal is on, cars are still allowed to make left turns. By the time all the left turn cars crossed, the cross walk sign had turned off, which meant I had to wait for the next one to make it  all the way across.

The median, which you can see in this photo, is where I got stranded by the left turning cars (when my walk signal was on).

The median, which you can see in the middle of this photo, is where I got stranded by the left turning cars.

View of the street when I was stranded on the median.

View of the street when I was stranded on the median.

It was a blessing in disguise though, because I had time to look around and see this little park. I would have turned the other way if I had gotten all the way across in one light, so it was fortunate that I got to stop and smell the smog for a moment. I haven’t come across any other little parks like this but I’m sure there are more popping up. It looked like the trees were newly planted and it was well maintained. No one else was walking in it while I was there (probably because it was just barely sprinkling and no one likes to go outside when it rains here). It was right in front of some apartment buildings, so I’m assuming it is a little park for the residents.

The pretty little park in the middle of downtown Shanghai.

The pretty little park in the middle of downtown Shanghai.

The park, nestled amongst some apartment buildings.

The park, nestled amongst some apartment buildings.

Yes, Shanghai is a HUGE city. There is so much to do and see, so many different kinds of food to try and drinks to taste. But amidst Shanghai’s grandeur I have found little spaces of tranquility, where I can escape, for a moment, the city of 23 million.

-Little Sparrow

New Foods I’ve Eaten in Shanghai:

-Jellyfish (really good)
-Cow Stomach Lining (not as great)
-Snails (ambivalent)
-Cow Cheek (I do NOT recommend)
-Cow Tongue (not as great)
-青菜 (qÄ«ngcài – amazing leafy vegetable)
-Mandarin Fish (really good)
-带鱼 = Hairtail fish (amazing!)

…and many more amazing things that I don’t know the English/Chinese name for…yet 😉

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