It’s been a few weeks since I last updated you on my study abroad experience. I have been in China for five weeks now and class started about four weeks ago. Everything has been so exciting except for the second week when I got really sick for a few days. I feel much better now and my body has finally adjusted to the time zone! I’m enrolled in five courses and, so far, they’re all very interesting. My favorite class is either Primary Chinese or Chinese Culture and Business Practices. I’ve always wanted to know more about the Chinese culture and now that I’m here taking these courses; it’s fascinating to learn the difference between American and Vietnamese culture compared to Chinese culture.
I was warned before I came to China that I may experience culture shock and when that happens, it is totally normal. I personally have not experienced it…yet. I try to keep myself busy by hanging out with friends, meeting new international students, and going out to explore the great Shanghai.
I’ve explored the malls, restaurants, bars, clubs, The Bund and a couple surrounding cities. The malls compared to the States are massive and it’s not just one mall in one area, it’s multiple malls. There’s a place nearby where each metro exit has an entrance to a different mall. Being a shopaholic and living near a place like that is very dangerous.
The restaurants are delicious, the bars and clubs are exotic, and the nearby cities are beautiful. I went to visit a popular tourist place called The Bund which is a walk way on the water where you can see the French Corridor on one side and the tall modern skyscrapers on the other side of the river. Going at night is the best time when all the buildings will be lit up I would suggest going to see The Bund and then going to a nearby rooftop to take in the breathtaking view. I also took a day trip during the Mid-Autumn Festival to a town called Zhujiajiaozhen which in English is called Ancient Water Town. It was so refreshing to get out of the bustling Shanghai and see a smaller local, yet still touristy place.
I recently got back from a four-day trip to Beijing and that trip is by far the best thing I’ve done since I came to China. I spent the first two days of the trip visiting the top tourist attractions such as, Temple of Heaven, the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube (where the Olympics were held), Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and Lama Temple.
The last two days I spent on the Great Wall. This was the highlight of my Beijing trip. I went with a tour group and we hiked for two hours up a very steep mountain to reach the wall. We continued hiking on the wall until we finally reached the area where we were going to camp for the night. The views were the best I’ve ever seen. Sitting on the side of the wall and watching the sunset and laying down to see the sky full of stars and then waking up to catch the sunrise was unbelievable. I can now say that I have been to the Great Wall of China, hiked it, and slept on it.
Communication in a foreign country is quite difficult when you don’t speak the language. There are a lot of pointing, hand gestures and Google translate that goes on. When I’m at the canteen (which is what the cafeteria is called here), I mostly just point at the food and use my fingers to tell them how many.
Meals are between $2-$5 USD depending on what you get and how much. That to me is nothing, but to the locals it’s average. One complaint that I do have about the food here is that it is very oily or greasy. It took some getting used to and I try to stay away from it as much as possible. The food in general is tasty but they put oil in everything and definitely overuse it. Some foods I’ve had are hotpot, dumplings, Chinese pancakes, rice noodle dishes, dim sum, and a few fast food restaurants like KFC, McDonalds, Taco Bell and Subway. Their fast food items here are not what you see back in the US. For example, at KFC they also sell chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches, and a variety of desserts like egg tarts and ice cream. Taco Bell has some burritos and tacos that have Kimchi in it to put an Asian twist on it.
Transportation, in my opinion, is better in America. Shanghai has many metro lines to get everywhere but because Shanghai is so large you’ll have a long commute to your destination. There are Didis which is their Uber or Lyft. Those can take a while to get. Taxis are quicker than Didis because there are more of them. Bikes are everywhere here. Every block has plenty of bikes for you to rent if you have the app. It’s convenient and much quicker than walking. Though you have to be extremely careful and aware of your surroundings when biking because drivers here are very aggressive and the rule about pedestrians have the right of way don’t always apply here. Overall my experience with transportation has been good but back home is faster and probably safer.
That is pretty much all that’s happened since my last blog. There are many more adventures to come and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I already have some things planned like Disneyland and another city I’m going to visit, but you’ll have to wait for my next blog to hear about it. I’m truly living my best life right now and I’m so incredible grateful for this opportunity. Until next time!