Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"It all started with a mouse..." - W. Disney

For me, it all started with a very long plane ride. When I arrived at the airport in Shanghai (which has lots of art, but no a/c - be warned future visitors!), I met fellow Foreign Trainers (FTs) Reid (MN), Andrew (Canada), and Charlotte (Britain). We arrived at the hotel, settled in our rooms, and later went for my first Chinese dinner with Charlotte and Andrew. We shared 3 types of Congee (rice porridge). Then sleep. 

My hotel

My room


The next morning, there was the trip to the bank, buying of a cell phone, paperwork, and orientation (with Japanese curry for lunch) with the other FTs: Matt (Canada), Michelle (LA), Sharin (LA), Amelia (NY), Tarryn (South Africa), Hope (AL), Cynthia (Reid's girlfriend from LA). Siobhan (Britain) did not arrive until Saturday, due to the fact that the person in charge of booking flights neglected to do so for her. Anyway, fun day, lots of information learned, with brief tour of the local area and how to get to the metro.

Saturday was a free day, and I spent it touring the city. I took the subway (which is huge, has multiple entrances/exits and a kind of underground shopping mall at each station) to the Jing'an Temple, then wandered and found my way eventually to the Shanghai Exhibition Center, where there was an expat "cuisine" festival going on. I thought this meant that expats would have booths with foods from their countries, but really, it was mostly booths with information about China travel, Mandarin lessons, dental care, insurance, etc. There was a small food area, and I had a chocolate crepe for lunch. Then I wandered back out into the humidity to find my way to People's Park, the Shanghai Art Museum (pretty neat), and the Grand Theatre (which sadly didn't have anything to do inside). Then I sat down in the park for a bit to read and cool off. Fun fact that I learned later: When I went in to People's Park there was a LARGE group of Chinese people with signs gathered together exchanging information of some kind. Apparently, this is known as a marriage market (pictures to come), where adults bring personal ads about their children to find them spouses! 
Exhibition Center

Grand Theater

Then I met some local Chinese people. We went to a teahouse and saw a tea performance and sampled some teas: Ginseng (good for the heart, blood pressure), Jasmine (aka dragon eyeball for sore throat and eye puffiness), Berry (good for digestion), Green (to lose weight), Lichi (aka black, also for the eyes), and Chrysanthemum (which I forget what it is good for). Then I said good-bye and made my way to the Bund on the Haungpu River, where there are lots of old buildings and views of modern Pudong. 


View of Pudong
I took the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel to Pudong and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower to get views of Shanghai. It was much cooler than I thought - not only was the observation deck so high that my ears popped, the lower ball had an arcade, space exhibit with a holographic book that you touched and it turned pages, an activity where you stepped on a planet and it flew to get away, and models of the moon, rockets, and ET (blech!). Below that was a roller coaster - which I did ride! AND I kept my eyes open the whole time! The lobby level was the Shanghai History Museum, which had incredible miniatures to model the history and growth of Shanghai. 
Oriental Pearl TV Tower

View of Shanghai

The distance to Nanjing

After the tower, I rushed to get to an acrobatic show. Amazing! There was rope climbing, silk dancing, hoop jumping, people who bent in ways that they shouldn't, balancing, juggling, bicycle tricks, and motorcyclists inside the ball of death! 

I had to shower when I got back to the hotel, then I met up with some of the FTs to go out on the town. Sunday was a lazy day to go to the local park and get some work done. 

Then yesterday was our first official day of training. We learned the history of the Disney Corporation, the perks and expectations of our job, and other stuff. We got our pictures taken for our centers, and measured for our "costumes". They took us to an awesome Sichuan (read: spicy), family style lunch with tons of yummy foods. 

Today started with our medical checks, and we had the afternoon off to do as we pleased. I went to the Shanghai Museum (sculptures, ceramics, statues, paintings, calligraphy, coins, and more!) while the other FTs went apartment hunting since they are all staying local. By the time I finished that, it was too late (and too rainy) to go to other sights, so I went back to the hotel to write to you. 
Shanghai Museum
Other notes: The weather changes very quickly here. Our first 3 days were so humid you started sweating the minute you walked outside. Then it rained Saturday night, so the following few days have been incredibly windy and cool. Also, not many people have been staring at us foreigners as we walk around town - Shanghai has lots of visitors. And red lights are really more of a suggestion than a rule here - you have to be careful when you cross the street!

Sample architectures
It's hard to believe I've been here less than a week. There's so much to see, and we're so busy. Welcome to DisneyEnglish! Miss you all. 


  1. This is so exciting! I get to travel vicariously through you. Im glad you are having fun and are getting to be touristy :) I like the pictures of the buildings. The architecture there is beautiful.

    When you say you were fitted for your "costume" do you mean the uniform or are you going to be teaching in a Disney costume?!

    Good luck finding an apartment and please dont get hit by a car. Hugs!

  2. I want to know about the costume too!

    And I just read about marriage markets a few weeks ago and wasn't sure I believed they existed until now!

    I'm so glad you're having fun! Post more pictures! :-P

    PS This is Kelly.

  3. I'm so proud of you for riding that coaster! Yay Jen!

    Yeah, I think we need to hear more about this costume business. Do you get to dress up as Mulan or Pocahontas or something?