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Rachel Palfini

May 28, 2014

This post is somewhat overdue as our Spring Break was more than three weeks ago, but as finals are fast approaching, I need a reminder of the good ole vacation days. To start the trip, Christa Lee '15 and I went to visit last year's Chinese language assistant in Xi'an! Catherine was the best host and...

Volunteering at Migrant School

Rachel Palfini

May 22, 2014

There are a lot of migrant workers in China, over 130 million. Most migrant workers are leaving poor, rural villages and moving to cities on China's eastern coast in search of better job opportunities. Most of these jobs are in factories, low-paying according to American standards, but much higher wages...

The Most Popular Game in China

Rachel Palfini

May 15, 2014

I'm about to let you all in on a little secret. It's…how to play the most popular game in China! Now, there really is no name to this game, although I presume nicknames have popped up all over China. It is really easy to play, but you rarely win, and you don't even need to have someone explain...

Marriage Corner at People’s Park

Marriage Corner at People’s Park

Rachel Palfini

May 7, 2014

As many of you probably know, Chinese culture, like so many others, places great emphasis on marriage. China has been a patriarchal society since its origin over 5000 years ago, and as such, much value is placed on producing sons. With recent medical advances in the past few decades, the sex ratio in...

Thick Skin

Thick Skin

Rachel Palfini

April 26, 2014

Mandarin is the first oral language I have studied. In high school, I took four years of Latin, but we rarely read aloud, as Latin is a dead language and impossibly difficult to converse in (Latin grammar is very complicated). One of the reasons I enjoyed studying Mandarin so much my first year at Whitman...

Celebrating 21st Birthday in China

Celebrating 21st Birthday in China

Rachel Palfini

April 5, 2014

Last Saturday, I, along with my Chinese tutor (Alex), and CIEE classmate (Kasia), went to Tianzifang (天子方) to celebrate our birthdays (mine was on Sunday and Kasia's was Tuesday). Tianzifang is this relatively new "old-style" shopping area in Shanghai that mostly serves foreign tourists....

“The Goddess”

Rachel Palfini

March 20, 2014

Despite what some days may feel like, I am taking other courses in Shanghai besides my Chinese language class! Last week in Chinese Film and Cinema, we watched Wu Yonggong's "The Goddess," which was released in 1934. "The Goddess" was part of the 1930s overall leftist-turn of Chinese cinema, which was...

Slice of Seattle in Shanghai

Slice of Seattle in Shanghai

Rachel Palfini

March 16, 2014

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...

A Typical Day in Shanghai

A Typical Day in Shanghai

Rachel Palfini

March 10, 2014

7:30 am: Wake up and review for daily Chinese quiz (~30 new characters) 8:30 am: Eat breakfast with host mom or dad 9:10 am: Leave for school 9:20 am: Catch bus to school or walk to metro if bus hasn't arrived yet by 9:20 9:50 am: Arrive at school 10: 00 am: Chinese class begins 11:50...

Culture Shock

Culture Shock

Rachel Palfini

March 7, 2014

Many people told me I would experience culture shock when I came to Shanghai, but I did not take any of their comments seriously. Last summer, I lived on the Thailand/Burma border doing volunteer work with Burmese migrant workers and we lived in really basic conditions: bucket showers, squat toilets,...

Navigating City of 上海 (Shanghai)

Navigating City of 上海 (Shanghai)

Rachel Palfini

March 1, 2014

I have now been in Shanghai for a week and cannot believe how much has changed since my first night. My first evening in Shanghai was pretty rough, mostly because my plane was delayed in Vancouver for four hours. I'm a pretty relaxed, go with the flow, traveler because I realize you can't control ev...

Old Town (南市) Shanghai

Old Town (南市) Shanghai

Rachel Palfini

March 1, 2014

Today was my first day in Shanghai without CIEE orientation activities, so with my trusty Lonely Planet guidebook in hand, I headed for Old Town Shanghai. There are 11 districts in Shanghai and Old Town is one of them. I chose to spend the day in Old Town because it's supposedly the "most traditionally...

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