I arrived in Guangzhou on Friday in the early afternoon, a half a day before the rest of the team. After checking into my hotel, I met up with an employee from Great China, who offered to take me around the city for a bit and get dinner with me. Being in a foreign city with no language skills, it is exponentially better having someone take you around to avoid any translation problems or getting lost. I met up with Selena, and we started our afternoon adventures in the humid city of Guangzhou.
Our first stop was priority was obviously getting bubble tea. I got a taro flavored bubble tea (a regular, delicious staple of my diet), while she settled for a traditional milk tea. We took the subway to the Tiahne district, famous for shopping, and meandered through a few clothing shops. She wanted to take me to her favorite dumpling restaurant, so our next stop was this little nook restaurant in a different part of the city. I was glad to have some not-so-spicy foods again. We talked about favorite foods and Cantonese dishes during dinner, and she shared a bit about Guangzhou’s history while we walked back to the subway and finally to our last destination.
As it was getting later in the evening, we arrived at the the city-center near the river waterfront, a very open and pleasant place to walk around. It is a perfect place to be just as the sun is setting, as the Guangzhou (Canton) Tower lights up, ferries float down the river, and the skyline is picturesque. We shared more stories of families, cultural differences, and future goals. It was so much fun, and I felt like I learned so much from our conversation.
At times in our conversation, we had trouble communicating, as there were language barriers. I had to think of other words or simpler phrases to communicate my message or ask a question, and many times when we would realize we misunderstood each other, we would just end up looking confused and laughing. This conversation clearly demonstrated how important it is to be an effective communicator, whether in a college essay or just while making a new friend in a foreign country, and how the simplest things can be confusing and laughably misunderstood to another person. Overall, I had a great day back in Guangzhou and am excited for all that is to come!
Molly is a recent grad from Yale with a B.S. in Psychology and a concentration in Education Studies. She loves traveling and experiencing new cultures. Follow her photo journey in China on Instagram: instagram.com/mollymichaels.