Paige Sheffield

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” - Maya Angelou

 

When Paige first went to Beijing, China for three months in 2016, she had no idea how significant that experience would be. To the people in her life, three months seemed like a long time for someone’s first trip abroad—but at the end of the trip, three months didn’t feel like nearly enough time to her. 

The following year, Paige returned to China to study Mandarin and take some other classes like modern Chinese history in Chengdu. Her program was about four months long, but when her classes finished she still wasn’t ready to leave. She decided to extend her time in the country by two months until her student visa expired. There was a part of her that still felt like she hadn’t spent enough time in China, so when one of the friends she met in Chengdu told her that she should consider moving to Shanghai, she started applying for jobs there. 

She found a job and decided to move to Shanghai to teach English for what was supposed to be a year, but turned into four. In spite of the complexities and challenges (she was in Shanghai for the infamous lockdown in 2022), she cherishes her memories of Shanghai and her now long-distance friendships. 

Though she returned to the U.S. in 2022, there are some aspects of her life in China that Paige still carries with her (She’s trying to maintain her Mandarin level even though she can feel it declining, and when she feels herself getting sick, she drinks hot water—a Chinese tradition.). She believes that living abroad helped her become more adaptable, and also showed her the impact that her environment can have on her wellbeing. After moving to Shanghai on a whim, she is now excited by the possibility of starting over in a new city and the process of discovering her favorite things about that place and learning more about herself through that experience. 

Paige now works as a writer and teaches English as a volunteer. Though she is obviously quite attached to China, she also really enjoyed her time in Malaysia and the Czech Republic, and is always seeking out opportunities to explore different places. In addition to travel, she’s passionate about walkable cities, public transit, and mental health advocacy (and cats).