Adrian Wong in Shanghai

Why it's important to be curious, ask questions and explore

Adrian Wong studied at Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting & Finance in China for the Winter 2018 semester. He is an Economics student, with the Management option, on the Waterloo campus.

Imagine yourself travelling to a foreign country to study abroad for a semester. Try to visualize the many adventures you will embark on and the lifelong friends you will meet along the way.

It was only during my 15-hour flight to Pudong Airport, Shanghai, China that I had this sudden realization. I’m not exactly the type of person that gets excited over anything until the final moments leading up to it, but the excitement and nerves really did hit me like a freight train. Having completed my fair share of research and homework on Shanghai prior to my departure, I still found myself with a mountain of uncertainty and unanswered questions that were all soon to become reality.

"I was not going to allow this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be cut short by fear and uncertainty, so I decided to submerge myself into the culture as much as I possibly could."

During the first week of my stay in Shanghai, I found it extremely difficult to do much of anything. I thought that the language barrier was a big hurdle to surpass, not to mention the fact that I hadn’t met many of the other exchange students yet so there was a lot of alone time. It was during this time that I was able to do a lot of thinking about the importance of my trip here to Shanghai and in the end, I decided that I would go “all in”. I was not going to allow this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be cut short by fear and uncertainty, so I decided to submerge myself into the culture as much as I possibly could.

It started with slowly learning the language, eating the local food, and meeting locals. As each day passed, it became easier to adapt and I was having more and more fun. I came here to Shanghai to learn about my roots from China and now I feel like I have achieved that goal.

As anyone can imagine, going on exchange can be exciting and frightening at the very same time. I have now been in Shanghai for little over two months and I can say with the utmost confidence that this was the best decision I could have possibly made. While here, I have been able to make countless new friends as each day passes. Every day is a new experience waiting to unfold and you never know what to expect.

Going on new adventures and trying new things is so exciting. I have learned so much about myself, something that I would have never been able to do if I stayed in the comfort of my home in Canada, which was something that I always believed that I could do.

You will get to the point where you enjoy your exchange so much that it feels like home. It becomes your home away from home, a place that you will always cherish and hold close to your heart for the rest of your life. The friends you will make and the experiences you will gain are for life. I strongly recommend to anyone that is even slightly considering an exchange to take this opportunity for it is one that is worth every penny and every ounce of sweat, fear, and smiles in your body. 

"Something that I realized here in Shanghai is to be comfortable with the unknown."

You can prepare yourself as much as you possibly can for an exchange and still find yourself with a handful of unanswered questions. However, I am very grateful for the team at Laurier International, as they were there every step of the way to provide their constant support for me. Although I travelled alone to Shanghai, I always felt like I had Laurier International by my side.

There will undoubtedly be questions and curiosities that you must figure out as time passes. Some questions are just left to be answered in due time. Something that I realized here in Shanghai is to be comfortable with the unknown. It is okay to be nervous about a test, trip, food, or culture but the important thing to remember is that, while you won’t always know where you are headed,know that you are headed somewhere.

It is important to never lose your dinosaur (Step Brothers). It is important to never lose the kid instinct in your body, the one that was adventurous and curious, the one that never stopped asking why. The quotation from this movie has taught me to never stop exploring and to always remember to have fun, something that I have learned to be extremely important during my stay here in China.