The past couple days have been exciting and overwhelming, which as a result has caused the delay in my blogging. That being said, this blog has a lot of weight to it! From a thousand year-old water village, to a tailor-made suit, and even a trip to Walmart, these past few days have been exciting and memorable. To avoid being redundant, I won’t mention what I’ve been up to as that’s covered in the video, but I will answer some of the commonly asked questions that keep coming my way.
- What has been the biggest cultural difference or transition that you’ve had to adjust to?
Pushing and shoving is common place, at least here in Shanghai. Where in America there is a virtual bubble of distance that is maintained, in China there barrier is right on top of you-if you are in their way, you will know about it. As someone who grew-up learning about chivalry, it’s a difficult to operate in a culture that doesn’t live up to those standards.
- How do people look? Do you stand out much?
Culturally, China isn’t all that different from the United States. For the most part the fashion and clothing is very similar, if not closer to the “cutting edge.” The ideal image is actually a Caucasian Westerner, where we buy tanning lotion they buy whitening cream and dye their hair brown or lighter colors–the more “white” you can look the better. Other than the obvious physical differences, I don’t really stand out.
- How’s the food? Have you gotten sick yet?
As far as food, Chinese-Chinese food is NOTHING like American-Chinese food. To out it into words though, Chinese-Chinese food is 非常好吃 (fei chang hao chi meaning very delicious)! Chinese-Chinese food various from what we see in the states, in that the meat is extremely thinly sliced and little is found throughout the dish, for the most part dishes consist of vegetables. When there are large portions of meat you have to get used to the fact that you’ll eventually sink your teeth into a bone. In Chinese culture, the meat that is closest to the bone is the most tender and flavorful. As much as I love the Chinese food here, it does get old gnawing on a chicken foot or sucking the meat off the ribs of a fish. Shanghai is a major international city, whatever type of food you want can be found here, you just have to know how to ask for it (this is generally where the problem lies). I have yet to eat at McDonald’s or KFC–mainly because their menu options can me entirely unrecognizable (especially at KFC) and their price are a little steep–but they can be easily located. I have had Starbucks though, nothing will get between me and my coffee fix! Oh yeah, and no I have yet to get sick. That better not have jinxed me!
- What is your average day like?
My average day isn’t really all that exciting. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I wake up at 8AM get ready for the day, and go to Intermediate Chinese I from 9:00AM-11:50AM. The other days of the week are a little less. Tai Chi (yes, I did decided to stick with the class, even though it’s not the most fun) on Tuesdays for an hour starting at 10AM. Chinese Cultural and Society (taught in English) on Thursdays from 9:00AM-11:50AM. After that, lunch, generally somewhere close, or I’ll get on the subway and get off at a new and random spot to find some food.
- Are you making friends?
This may surprise you, me being the quiet, reserved, socially-awkward-broken-winged butterfly that I am, but I actually am making friends. The people in my program (everyone’s from the states) are exciting and fun. All of us are in the same boat: language barriers, struggles with cultural differences, and being dumped into a new and different city. If you feel so inclined you can check out some of the blogs of the other people in my program: Kara, Natalie, and Alison.
- What has been the must exciting part?
Constantly learning and constantly exploring. Everything, everything is new. From the sights, to the sounds, to the smells, I am constantly being stimulated with new information and knowledge.
Well that about covers the majority of the questions that I’ve been asked. I’d like to thank you for following my blog, and I’d like to especially thank those people I’ve been email corresponding with–they are a great taste of home and I look forward to them.