A Staff Member’s Summer: Exploration of Food and Culture in China


Photos courtesy of Audrey Liang

Audrey Liang, Online Features Editor

Every summer, I look forward to flying to China, and this year I visited Chengdu, Shenzhen, and Shandan.

In Chengdu, food is the main attraction of the experience. If you leave Chengdu without eating hot pot, you haven’t really been there. There’s just something about “cooking” food yourself that makes the food taste better. I had hot pot every other day while I was there and surprisingly did not get sick of it. Besides Chengdu, I also visited a neighboring city named Yibin, where there were lush bamboo forests and a beautiful ancient town. There, I had white meat—one of the foods the town is famous for. I also had a sugar painting, which is made by shaping hot, liquid sugar into art on a metal surface.

There are plenty of attractions in Shenzhen, and I didn’t know where I wanted to go with my limited time. My friend suggested that we go to a corgi cafe. The decor was quaint and charming, and portraits of corgis dressed as royalty were all over the cafe. A lot of the cakes were named after the corgis, and the corgis themselves were also sweet and adorable. Even though I was scared of cats, I still visited a cat cafe out of curiosity. There were around 15 of them sprawled on tables, chairs, and the floor of the cafe, but none of them wanted to come to us unless we had food. When we did have food, they went nuts fighting each other for a bite, which was pretty fun to watch. I also got to visit the fourth tallest building in the world—the Pingan Finance Centre. The building was stunning from the outside, especially at night, but looking down upon the city from the 113th floor was breathtaking. 

Going to Shandan, a rural county in Northwestern China, I was really excited to meet the students from my community service project. Teaching them English and facilitating debates among them online every other week was fun, but meeting them was a totally different level of bonding. Even teaching them lessons was filled with laughter and joy, but the best part was going out at night and eating barbeque with them.

Even though I had a lot of work to do over the summer, I still found time to enjoy my time in China. I’d say that it was a good summer!