1) This weekend I went on a shopping excursion! My first stop was a 7-story bookstore called Shanghai Shu Cheng (上海书城), where I bought a Chinese copy of The Fault in Our Stars, as well as some graded readers with CDs to help me practice my reading and increase my vocabulary. From there, I took the subway to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum (上海科技馆). Why the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum? Because underground, connected to the subway, is a huge market with stores selling every kind of souvenir and knock-off designer product imaginable: scarves, key-chains, figurines, t-shirts, bags, shoes, toys, you name it, someone there probably sells it.

I, however, have the unfortunate (in this particular case) quality of being obviously foreign, which means I’m a target for being ripped off. Most of the prices here aren’t set or marked, so anything I want to buy automatically gets marked up, and I’m forced to use my questionable bargaining skills to bring it down as much as possible. I’m used to it by now: “Because you’re a student, I’m giving you my best price!” “This is HAND MADE, look!” “Wow, you speak Chinese so well! So I’ll give it to you for __ kuai qian [dollars]!” But this weekend’s experience was definitely one of the best so far…

Me: How much is this scarf?
Shopkeeper: This is SILK, so it’s 135 kuai.
Me: *pointing at the tag* No, it’s not silk. It’s polyester, see? 50 kuai.
Shopkeeper: No, no, no, it says “100% Silk Feeling Polyester”! They just write that because Western people don’t know silk, but Chinese people know silk; this is silk!

I did finally get her to bring the price down to a more reasonable amount, but I won’t say how much since the scarf is a gift, and the point of this anyway was her not-so-convincing story to try to talk me into believing that the scarf was silk, haha. A for effort, lady, but you won’t fool THIS waiguo ren (foreigner)!!

2) Today I went to the post office (邮局) to mail some postcards (明信片), and it felt like I was back in first grade doing arts-n-crafts… Apparently in China, self-sticking stamps (邮票) are not a thing, so you have to go over to the counter and use the paste to stick the stamps yourself. It was pretty self-explanatory: There was a big blue container of thick white paste with a paintbrush in it, and you just flip the stamp over and brush some paste onto the back of the stamp, then stick it on the card. And I didn’t even screw it up, so nothing more to see here, moving on!

3) About an hour ago, I got back from a mahjong (麻将) class that the events coordinator for my program set up and taught himself. There were only three of us including the teacher, and the other student came late and left early, so we were able to go pretty slowly and touch on every question that needed answering. It was a lot easier than I thought! I definitely need more practice, and I would really like to play it with all four players (mahjong is supposed to be a 4-player game!), but I can now say that I have successfully learned how to play real mahjong!

Anyway, I have homework to go finish now, but later I’ll make another post with some photos from my trip to the Bund (外滩) with my friend last night. It was super crowded, but so pretty! Sorry I didn’t include any photos with this post – I haven’t transferred any of them to my computer yet.

Good night! 晚安!