A lot of things went wrong during my semester abroad in Shanghai, China. Specifically with the living abroad part of studying abroad (the academic part is another blog altogether). Some of these mishaps didn’t really have an upside. When I couldn’t find my brand of dry shampoo, for example, there was no miraculous Chinese alternative ... I just used baby powder. But most disasters shook out OK, like when my favorite Korean fried rice place closed earlier than expected and I bought dinner from a nearby food stand I’d have never tried otherwise. It was about 8 kuai cheaper and the best fried rice I’ve ever had, bar none.
All told, these situations led me to try, taste, explore and experience things that I may not have otherwise — and to grow in ways that were never on my agenda.
When I started college, the ground was crunchy with salt and the snow was so thick you could sled down the amphitheater steps. I was careful to not invade my roommate’s space as I unpacked (she had started in September and would not move back in for a few days). Besides my residence hall’s community advisor, there was one other person on my floor — an athlete, maybe — and the whole process was very calm and very quiet.
I was so in love with Mount Holyoke College that the idea of arriving a semester later than my peers never threatened my decision to come here. But it did present a few concerns. As a spring admit, or “springie,” I wondered, how would I meet people? Could I really catch up with the rest of my class? What was a Mountain Day?