你们好！I’ve officially been in China for two weeks, I am no longer jet lagged, and I have completed my first week of classes. Every day I experience something new, so today I’m going to tell you a little bit about what I experienced this past week.
My first week of classes went swimmingly. My Chinese language class meets 4 times a week, for 2.5 hours at a time. I think the length of the class and the frequency it meets is the hardest to adjust to. At Lafayette I only had to do one lab, so I am not used to spending so much time in class in one sitting. That being said, about every 40 minutes a Chinese song goes off on the loud speaker and we all get a 10-minute break, so it’s not too bad. It’s definitely worth it because I can already tell that my Chinese is getting better. I can’t wait till the day comes that I can successfully tell the cab driver where I want to go, and he actually brings me to the right place with ease!
My favorite class so far is my Chinese metropolis class. This class is filled with Chinese students from Fudan University, American students from BU, Trinity, and IES, and students from all over Europe. The experience inside the class will be one of a kind, and so will the 5 field trips to various areas around Shanghai that we will go on throughout the semester! In this class we will learn about Shanghai and how it compares to other cities around the world, and in the end, after going on our week long trip to Hong Kong, we will write a comparative essay on the two cities. An added bonus to the class is the professor, who is hilarious and really interesting. I am looking forward to the end of the semester when he will cook dinner for us at his house! What an exciting opportunity that will be.
I’m especially excited for a home-cooked meal because it’s not so easy being a vegetarian in China. Contrary to what the people here think, vegetarians do not eat meat or fish. Every time I try to order a vegetarian dish it comes with either fish or chicken in it, and many restaurants will rarely serve the dish without the meat. I am constantly learning more and more about places that are accommodating to vegetarians, but sometimes I wish the language barrier and food culture were different, especially in the area right around my apartment, because I’m getting sick of white rice!
This week IES sponsored a trip to Xingtang, an ancient town that should take about 2 hours to get to from Shanghai. We ran into a little problem when our bus found itself going down a narrow street and it almost couldn’t get out to the main road again. This was all due to the fact that the GPS we had was, like many things bought in Chinese markets, a fake, therefore it gave us faulty directions. Oops! When we finally got to the town I quickly forgot about our bumpy, insane bus ride, as I saw that this town and trip would be completely worth the headache of a ride. Water ran throughout the town, and little bridges connected different areas filled with shops, ancient architecture, and restaurants. We took a boat from one end of the town to the other, and got to explore and shop around. I finally found postcards to send home, and some other great souvenirs too.
To top off the great day in Xingtang, I went with a few friends to The Bund and the Shanghai World Financial Center observatory. The view from The Bund at night was breathtaking, and the view of the entire city of Shanghai from the top of the SWFC building was unforgettable. Although at first I was nervous to be 492 meters/101 floors above ground, I am glad I faced my fear and went to the top of the SWFC building.
I am loving my life in Shanghai more and more every day, and I can’t wait to explore different areas of Shanghai, and the greater China as a whole! Looking forward to visiting Chengdu in 2 weeks and getting to hold a baby panda!