Archive | June, 2011

History

26 Jun

Yesterday a group of classmates and I went on a scavenger hunt around the French Concession area near the Bund. If you are ever in Shanghai and are looking to blow a lot of money, this is the place you want to be in. I am not joking, a little personal pizza costs about 120 Kuai or about $20 US. This place is really nice, but the prices are just ridiculous. I feel like I was pick-pocketed after eating lunch here. That aside, there is a lot to do in this area. For our scavenger hunt, we had to visit various museums and learn about some of China’s history. Next month there will be a celebration of the 90th year since the Chinese Communist Party was formed, so there has been a surge in the number of people attending these kind of museums. The first museum we went to was just for the history of the foundation of the Communist party.

Why does this make me feel like the last supper?

Shanghai is a very important place when it comes to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s history. Just a little background: The CCP and the Kuomintang party were both fighting the invading Japanese forces together in the early 1900’s. One day, the KMT decided that they didn’t want any chance of Communist forces having a say in their government after the Japanese were driven out. In Shanghai, this decision led to the massacre of many members of the Communist party and even some bystanders. This was the start of the Communist party’s great struggle and eventual “long march.”

After the CCP museum, we went to FuXing Park. This place is really beautiful and is a great spot for night life such as clubs, bars, and drunk people watching. In the day time though, you can see many elderly Chinese playing chess with each other and couples dancing to slow music.

I think his shoes say it all.

It hits a spot in me seeing old couples do these kind of things

After the park, we visited the former residence of Mao’s right hand man, Zhou Enlai. It was a really fancy mansion that he lived in. Apparently when he was living in Shanghai, the KMT had a lookout post right across the street to keep an eye on him and the others 24/7 .

On the way back home, we took the bus because we were exhausted from walking so much. While on the bus, I learned one thing: the drivers keep it real. They are the most aggressive people on the road and our driver yesterday in particular was the man. This guy was driving a stick shift bus with one hand while he was either talking on his phone or drinking tea with the other.

"Oh hey Sue. So like yesterday I totally saw this hot dress at Macy's and I was like OMG this would so impress Johnny but it was like wahyy too expensive. What a rip off. Hold on this guy is honking at me. WHAT? NO YOU MOVE. Sorry, so like yeah did you go out to dance last night?"

Food

22 Jun

China is famous for having many different types of food. Since it is so big, before cars and other forms of modern transportation were invented, many Chinese people were isolated from each other for long periods of time, making them create their own different customs and styles of food. Western China is famous for its spicy food, Eastern China is famous for its seafood. Beijing is famous for Mongolian Hot Pot.

I love all kinds of Chinese food but I think my favorite is Sichuan hot pot or 四川火锅. Its a very involved eating process. A hot pot is unique because everyone puts their own food in a boiling pot of water in the middle of a big circular table to cook it, then takes it out when its ready. When you go to eat hot pot, you need to bring people that can eat the things you do. This was our problem tonight. I cannot eat fish, chicken, soy, sesame, etc. One of my friends that went with me does not eat red meat! This was kind of a problem. We were pretty lucky though because we knew just enough Chinese to get a pot that was split into two different sections, so our food didn’t touch. Sichuan food is really spicy. When you eat something out of a hot pot, your tongue will tingle, and you will sweat. Its funny to think about how Sichuan is has an extremely hot climate in the summer, yet they still love spicy things.

We ate like kings for like $7 a person. In our side of the pot we had thin strips of lamb and beef. In the other side, they had chicken. We also had some vegetables which were pretty good.

Anyways, on a personal note, I am very tired. I haven’t had more than 7 hours of sleep in a night since I came to Shanghai. That being said, I’m going to bed early tonight!

Insanity

20 Jun

So I’m going to write this really fast and probably mess up a lot of grammar, but I really need to get to studying for class tomorrow. We learn like 20 new words per day and I was really lucky to have known about half of them already today. Our first class went pretty well, I think it is hard but also very interesting. The teachers talk slow enough for us to understand, which is good because most Chinese people talk way too fast. We have about 5 hours of class per day with a lunch break in between. 5 hours of Chinese hurts my head, but its worth it. It builds character.

 

I don’t know if I should name people I know yet because most people who read this won’t know them, but me and my friend went to Wal-Mart after class to buy some cooking stuff so we could make dinner sometimes. We were there for like 2 hours, not counting the half hour each way it takes to walk there and back. That’s a lot of time to spend at Wal-Mart but at least we got everything we needed for awhile and now know where everything in the store is.

When we got back, we cooked a full course meal. I would’ve taken a picture of it but it was just so good it literally disappeared off of our plates before I could. We made our own dumplings (Jiao Zi) with ground pork, garlic, and green onions on the inside. We probably cooked them for a little too long but they still came out really good. For the main dish we made a beef, garlic, and bok choy stir fry with some Sichuan pepper salt stuff on top. In my opinion, that was the most tasty part of the meal. For the vegetable part we made some steamed purple sweet potatoes and bok shoy with some cinnamon on the potatoes. Hen Hao Chi!

We found out that making food takes up a lot of time, so we probably won’t do it too much even though it saves money and tastes just as good if not better than the restaurants. It’s just hard to make food and find time to study for our classes.

Ahh!

I need to sleep early one of these nights. I keep telling myself I’m going to go to sleep early, but any college student knows how that works out.

Talking with strangers

18 Jun

Confucius Brand Liquor. I'm sure he would have wanted alcoholism

Today was my greatest learning experience so far. I went out by myself to browse around the various markets around my campus. They are closer and much cheaper than Wal-Mart. At one of the vegetable markets, I picked out some sweet potatoes and the owner weighed them and gave me a price. One of the biggest differences between China and America is the aspect of bargaining. In China, anything that is not in a high class store or supermarket can be bargained for. Since my Chinese is not yet that conversational, I wasn’t able to bargain for my food and probably paid a higher price (even though they were still amazingly cheap.)

After the vegetable market, I went in to one of the grocery stores to look for random things. I figured this would be a good chance to try to talk to some people, so I asked one of the workers about tea. After that, I went into another section of the store by the registers, and I happened to hear one of the cashiers say something about a Wai Guo Ren, or foreigner. Being the only foreigner in the store, I was pretty sure that was me, so I wondered what they were saying. When I bought my tea, I talked to the cashier about some little things and after a few seconds, everyone that worked in the store came over to try and talk to me. There was literally like five people in a circle around me. They even ignored the customer in line behind me! I think he didn’t even care and was listening himself. I found that very humorous. They didn’t realize that they were talking too fast so I told them to slow down. Actually, I told one lady to slow down, but I think I might have said it wrong and she ran away or something.  Chinese people talk very fast since their words are all one syllable. From what I could understand and talk about, they liked America and one of the cashiers wants to go there. They asked me if America was expensive and I told them it was and that China is very cheap. I wish I could talk about how Americans make more and Chinese make less, so the standards of living are not all that different. Well in a few years, I think they wont be.

I really want to go to a KTV soon so that I can get my singing on. China has karaoke bars all over. Basically what you do is get a private room with a couple friends and sing for the whole night. It’s really fun. I wish America had KTV’s but I think too many people are shy or something. I guess singing with people isn’t a pastime

A short note

16 Jun

Shanghai is awesome! Yesterday, the biggest task me and my new group of friends accomplished was finding wo er ma or Walmart. Walmart in China doesn’t play around. It’s about a half hour away from our dorms and it is literally four floors of everything you could ever need. Someone told me that they sell cow placentas there. Sounds interesting? I will definitely go there a lot.

Sleeping last night was terrible. China only has one time zone for the whole country. In Shanghai, the sun comes up at around 4:30 AM. What happens when the sun comes up? Birds happen. Apparently all of the most annoying birds in China gather directly outside my window at 4:30 to make sure I’m up. I’ll have to get used to my new alarm clocks if I want to sleep!

We have a full day today for orientation. Placement exams are at 2:30 but I’m not too worried because it’s not like we’re being graded.

Finally here! 到了上海!

14 Jun

So it’s 4:30 AM and I cannot sleep at all. I had to force myself for half of the night. My flight got in around 7PM and let me tell you, it is torture to ride on an airplane for almost a whole day and night. The worst part is that I have a cold, so I had to blow my nose every 20minutes for 17 hours. Not to mention that from the pressure of the airplane, I lost hearing in my right ear for a while after arriving. Never sit in a window seat on a flight like that because there are two people blocking your exit to the bathrooms and to stretch, and you have to wake them up and tell them to move numerous times. In my case, there was a Taiwanese couple next to me. Both were a little overweight for Asians and they made out almost the whole time! Yay.

Anyways, I am not really in a bad mood, just had a bad flight. After the plane landed, I took the shuttle bus from the airport to Wu JiaoChang (5 ways square.) This place is huge and the streets are lined with shops and small restaurants. After I got off of the bus, I had to walk about 20 minutes to my dorm. The only problem was that I didn’t know which way it was. Lucky for me, I am an outstanding guesser and ended up walking right to it. I thought I was going to have to get a hotel room for the night since the official move in wasn’t until the next day, so I went into every little side street searching for a place. I found a couple, but from what my broken Chinese determined, only Chinese people could stay in these hotels. I’m a little rusty and need to review. All I could say to them was 我要睡觉 or “I want to sleep”. Haha. Anyways, after being turned away from three “hotels”, I started to walk back. While I was doing so, I saw some American students along the way. Lucky me! I asked them where I could stay the night, and found out that they are staying in the same apartments that I was supposed to be in the next day. They ended up taking me there and I was able to move in early and they only charged me 95 kuai for the extra night. These apartments are very nice and everything seems to be new.

It’s been raining nonstop since I got here, and the forecast says rain all week. I guess Rochester’s weather isn’t much better, so I’ll have to deal. Tomorrow (Today) I have nothing planned until around 6:15, when everyone else will be arriving, so I will take it as a good chance to get to know my surroundings and find some 好吃。

Excitement!

10 Jun

I leave for a summer of studying in Shanghai on Monday, but I have been looking forward to this for months now. I am arriving a day earlier than most of my classmates, so that means I get to have an adventure of trying to get from the airport to somewhere near the school and then finding a cheap hotel until the next day when we are allowed to move in. After looking it up, there are three ways of getting from the airport to the school: Taxi, Bus, or Subway. The program I am with is telling us to take the taxi, but I seek danger and its expensive (and by expensive I mean like $25, but we’re ignoring that.) So bus or subway it is, both of which require walking about 10 minutes to the school afterwards and cost like $3.

So last year I went all over China and completely fell in love with the country. I went to Guilin, Lijiang, Chongqing, and Chengdu. I met some friends in Chengdu who I plan on seeing this summer. I hope to meet many more people this summer and become very good at Chinese.

I actually just got back from driving to NYC to get my visa, because I do things the hard way. I stopped in Chinatown while I was there and ate at the Old Sichuan restaurant. It tasted just like food in China, except I have never seen Broccoli in China, but oh well. The waitress didn’t know much English, so I was happy to use the basic Chinese that I know to talk to her and tell her about my food allergies. I think she was impressed that we could have a small conversation, but I think she ended up calling me 过敏(guo min),or “allergy” which was really funny.

I feel lazy today, so I’m not going to write any more for now. I’ll probably write again during my flights since it takes forever to get there and I can never sleep on airplanes. I haven’t even started packing yet so that seems like a good idea.