Despite being Chinese, my first week in Shanghai was a culture shock.


Flying into Shanghai was like diving into a sea of dirty marshmallows. The clouds masked everything beneath it. Jet lagged from a 20-hour flight, the last thing I need was the city’s mugginess suffocating me before the crack of dawn.

The smog smothered me as I left my hotel. I quickly decided to pick up breakfast, lunch AND dinner. Returning from the supermarket, I stopped by a pre-paid calling card stand.

          那个…可以..打出美国?(Which one… can call… to America?)

Hearing my broken Chinese, the guy tried to hustle me behind a cloud of cigarette smoke.

          一百块最便宜。(The cheapest one is a hundred dollars.)

Liar. I walked over to the next stall and bought one for 50 kuai.

Returning to the comfort of my hotel room, I inhaled my cup noodles and took a nap. I awoke to a funky smell growing from behind the bathroom door. The pipe was leaking noodle soup.

In my search for a towel, I noticed the shower head above the toilet seat. I realized that I was going to be showering on top of that toilet seat cover for the next week and a half.

Monica reflects on her travels by sharing her thoughts on A Cup of Moca. She writes about her journey as she experiences the destination to encourage others to marinate in the moment instead of just checking things off a bucket list.