Monday, July 19, 2010

Polar Opposites

If my sister and I wanted to make my parents nervous for an entire summer, we couldn’t have succeeded better if we tried. This summer, both my sister and I are away from home for almost the entire summer. Not only are we away from home, we are in countries that present their own set of challenges that make it difficult for our parents to lend a hand or even be aware of what’s going on.



The commonalities all end there. This summer, I’m in Ghana and my sister is in Shanghai (follow her blog here). Ghana is a developing country in Africa and Shanghai…is hyper-developed a good way to describe it? Here is a table of parallels:

WorkClinical Quality and Management Research in Ob/GynArchitecture Internship
National LanguageEnglishMandarin
Local DialectsTwiShanghainese
Fluent in National LanguageYesNo
Fluent in Local DialectsNoMaybe...
Number of Skyscrapers0Innumerable
Local Food FavoritesFufu, BankuXiao Long Bao, Sheng Jian Bao
Ease of Blending in with LocalsImpossibleImpossible not to
Family NearbyNoYes
Team Represented in World CupYesNo, but Chinese Ads all over stadiums
Reliable ElectricityNoYes
Reliable WaterNoNo
Most Common Form of Public TransportationTro-Tro, TaxiBus, Subway, Taxi
Common Ways Locals Use to Call Out Foreigners"Obroni"Staring, Calling you Crazy (Sheng Jing Bing)
Treatment by LocalsEveryone wants your name and number to be your friend; targeted to buy local crafts and no one believes I am a very poor medical student in serious debtIf they figure out that you are a foreigner, all prices for things will be overinflated
WeatherHot, Rainy SeasonSweltering Hot, Monsoon Season
Concern about MosquitoesHighHigh but no Malaria
International Event Congesting CityNoneWorld Expo
Ease of Finding American FoodModerately difficultVery Easy
Night Life OptionsHandful of clubs for dancing, drinking, playing pool (Vienna City Club, Genesiz, Café Masarati)Unknown (personally), but I’m sure Shanghai is full of at the very least bars, especially around the Nanjing Lu and Xintiandi area
Most Common Items Sold on the StreetLoaves of bread, cassava, phone cards, second hand clothing and shoesFruit (changes with the season), trinkets, knockoff items
PollutionVery BadVery Bad

Though, even in Ghana, everything seems to be made in China. So, perhaps our summers are more similar than we think!

If you had a choice between Ghana and Shanghai, where would you spend your summer?


  1. I LOVE THIS POST!!!!! when we get back to the US, you need to teach me how to put on charts and graphs and stuff. i am tempted to try now, but the combination of 37 interview transcriptions, 21 secondaries, and most importantly, REALLY SLOW INTERNET is forcing me to wait until later :)

    i'm so glad i have time to catch up on your blog!! it is so interesting and each post is short enough to swallow. medicine?? why not journalism!! there's still time to change your career path!!