It’s been rainy, so that’s my excuse… Pictures will be up eventually, I promise. It’s just that I still haven’t transferred them, and the USB cord is currently not within my reach, so please accept this story about my day instead.
Upon waking up, I got excessively distracted by social media for probably 20 minutes more than I should have. So I got up in a hurry, got dressed, and ate some Frosted Flakes. And then I had the misfortune of realizing my umbrella (雨伞) was nowhere to be found! The best I could do was pull a hoodie on over my stringbag so that I looked like an awkward blue turtle, and then I went out and braved the rain!
After class, I went to the first small shop I passed, stepped inside, and immediately asked, “Do you have umbrellas?” Of course they had some, they said, and did I want a big one or a small one. At that point it really didn’t matter – wearing a wet hoodie over a stringbag was both uncomfortable and inconvenient, haha! So I wound up with a large dark green umbrella that did its job quite well.
Armed with my new umbrella, I felt a sense of empowerment! And I forged onward first to Starbucks for a vanilla Frappucino, and then to the post office to send more postcards. As I was making a mess pasting on the stamps, the security guard, who speaks surprisingly-good-though-still-not-too-good English, insisted that I go look at something that was in English and explain it to him. I was really hoping it would be something easy that I could translate easily and then feel good about myself, but it wasn’t so. It wound up being something about Firefox not responding and how they needed to restart the computer? Firefox? FIREFOX?? I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SAY THAT. OR HOW TO EVEN SAY “INTERNET BROWSER”. Those are just not important words right now! But I flailed my arms a little bit and manage to convey the message through highly technical phrases such as “a surf the internet thing” (一个上网的东西), and “it can’t move” (不能动).
Once all that was over, I took the subway (which was lovely and comparatively empty today since it was pouring and nobody in their right mind wanted to go anywhere) to People’s Square and had some lunch, and then I walked to Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street (南京路步行街). Luckily I could walk there through the subway station because People’s Square is really close to Nanjing Road, and the area is a big hub for the subway, which means there are a lot of passageways underground that lead to a lot of different exits. Just to clarify, I also ate lunch inside the subway station, so I didn’t actually even go outside at all until I got to Nanjing Road.
Now, why would I go walking around Nanjing Road in the pouring rain? The idea was to look around and maybe get some shopping done while it wasn’t so crowded. Of course there were still plenty of people – in China, there are always people everywhere. Well, as it turned out, what seemed like a good idea before I got there turned out to actually be a hilariously miserable idea. The drains couldn’t keep up with the rain, and the whole street was basically one very large puddle. The stairs to the underpasses and subway might as well have been water park rides. The rain soaked through my shoes and then through my socks, and even though I got home hours ago, I’m pretty sure both are still wet. And of course, I got absolutely no shopping done. But I discovered that there’s an M&Ms world opening here this year!
Anyway, I’m going to go check on my laundry and then watch some movie that my teacher wants me to watch. Apparently it’s by some famous Chinese director I’ve never heard of: JIA Zhangke (贾樟柯). She had a collection of them and let us each pick one. I couldn’t read the summaries too well, so I just took one called Unknown Pleasures. I hope it’s good. I’ll let you know!
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！
It’s not because I’m bored or not doing anything… I guess it’s just that the more familiar I become with China, the less there is that stands out to me as blog-worthy. But I’ve been here for almost two weeks now, so I suppose I should at least post some of the highlights and some pictures.
Photos 1-2: People’s Park (人民公园). A large, famous, and centrally-located park in Shanghai. The surrounding area is home to People’s Square (人民广场), the Shanghai Museum (上海博物馆), and both East and West Nanjing Road (南京东路 and 南京西路). In my first week here, I went to People’s Park twice to do homework. I suppose I’ll probably go back at least one more time to shop and maybe go to the museum.
Photos 3-6: Evening in Shanghai and “Square Dancing” (广场舞). I like it here at night because most of the buildings have lights on them, and it’s so pretty. One of my classmates showed me a great place to walk along Suzhou Creek (苏州河) near where we both live – I like to go there at night, but instead of walking the whole way, I usually stop to watch the people dancing and see all the dogs that people brought with them. One of my favorite things to do is get out before they turn on all the lights, and watch as each building gets lit up!
Photos 7-10: Jing’an Temple (静安寺). There’s actually a subway stop here, and I pass right through it on my way to and from the Hutong School, so I figured I probably should go and see it! The ticket was more expensive than I thought (50 kuai, not 30 like the Internet said…), but I’m still glad I went. It was pretty and interesting. But it felt really weird to be in a Buddhist temple while being able to hear car horns and see skyscrapers and modern stores.
That’s it for now because I’m tired and want to go to bed so I’m not late for class in the morning. Hope you got something out of this terribly boring post, haha. Good night!
Last night I went with the Hutong School on a night walk through Shanghai! We started in the Yuyuan Garden (豫园) area and ended in Xintiandi (新天地). There were so many lights and people! We passed some “Square Dancing” (广场舞) – NOT like the type they do in Texas, though… It’s called Square Dancing because it’s a bunch of people dancing in a square or public park. We also passed some people who had set themselves up some karaoke, with a microphone and a screen propped up on a motorbike and everything!
While we were walking, I finally located some postcards! I’ll definitely be going back there to do some shopping. And I also saw several modern/Western stores and restaurants such as Starbucks, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and Dairy Queen located in very traditional-looking Chinese buildings. Attached are some pictures where you can (kind of) see a McDonalds and a Dairy Queen. As we walked, I chatted with other Hutong School students of all ages and from all around the world – the UK, Germany, Italy, France, and the Netherlands, as far as I can remember! So far I haven’t met any other Americans or even any Canadians…
Our final stop was a small museum. I learned nothing because I was too exhausted to read anything haha. But the last picture attached to this post is a building near the museum – it’s the building where the Chinese Communist Party had its first meeting. Anyway, when we were done, I grabbed a drink at Starbucks, then took a taxi to the Hutong School and then the subway home. I was going to make these posts last night but my bed was just so comfortable!! Oooh but speaking of Starbucks, there’s one right across from the subway stop at school…. another wonderful breakfast option!
Howdy! I arrived in China Monday morning, local time, and now it’s Wednesday morning!
Getting here: Took forrrrrrr-ever…. But was rather un-eventful, thankfully! I flew from the US to a 9-hour layover in Frankfurt, and then from Frankfurt to Shanghai. I DID get to see Mongolia from the airplane like I wanted to! But I don’t have any pictures because I couldn’t charge my phone in Germany and I needed to conserve the battery. There was also a lot of glare because it was early morning. It was really pretty though!! Instead of pictures of Mongolia, attached to this post you should find a picture of the ENORMOUS plane I flew on!
Arrival in Shanghai: Monday morning, local time. I was met at the airport and brought to my apartment, where a kind Hutong School staff member showed me around before going to the airport to pick up someone else. I went to the convenience store to buy something to drink, took a shower, chatted online for a bit, and then fell asleep. I was asleep when my housemate got home and didn’t get to meet her… But attached you should also find two pictures of the view out my window!
First Day at Hutong School: Yesterday morning, the same lovely staff member who showed me around my apartment picked me up, and we and a guy from France walked together to the subway station at Zhenping Road (镇坪路) where we met up with another guy from London and took the subway together to the stop at Changshu Road (常熟路) where we disembarked and walked around the corner to the school. When we got there, they placed us into classes, and they gave us our class schedules, a short orientation, and a bag of goodies. Some of the Hutong School staff took the three of us and one other new student to lunch at a Hunan restaurant, which I think was the first real food I had eaten in at least 48 hours… After that, the French and English guy started classes that afternoon so I took the subway back to my apartment and did some college stuff. When I was done, I made my way back to meet the events coordinator at the school and go on a night walk through Shanghai! Attached, find some pictures of the school. There will probably be more to come!
Night walk through Shanghai: I’ll make a separate post for this so I can include pictures. I’m posting by email, and it can handle only so many attachments at once.
Today: It is currently 6:05am on Wednesday, June 11. My class starts at 9 and goes until 2. I’m thinking I’ll go to a noodle place for breakfast and then take the subway to school. Not sure what I’ll do once class is over, but if it’s interesting, I’ll make sure I tell you about it!
Over and Out,