Life at Tongji University in Shanghai has begun.
As seems everything in China, the campus is huge. Each day the huge Chairman Mao waves hi! and bye! at the front gate. There are about 100 international students on exchange, many are French or German. I have not met another Aussie studying at Tongji yet.
Every 40 minutes the school bell rings. It rings slightly too long and I find myself glancing up at the teacher ready for a signal to evacuate. Music plays over the speakers during the class breaks. I feel like I’m at Degrassi High.
Chinese language ability varies greatly. Many students are pure beginners. It is very possible to live in Shanghai without Chinese. As I’ve learned a little Chinese before, I try my best to use Chinese rather than English whenever I can.
So straight into toilet talk… I am still learning how to squat without peeing on my foot. I don’t wear havianas in China anymore. Individual toilets don’t have toilet paper. A roll is often at the entrance to the toilets for guests to take on their way through. I’ve been caught out a few times, having to drip dry.
Going to the gym in China has been interesting. One gym has a sign in the showers: No pooing in the shower. I am very happy about this is rule, however it concerns me that a sign was required to start with. The uni gym is cheap but gross. I have decided to exercise outdoors.
Setting up a phone and wifi was pretty easy. However, to make friends at home jealous with pics on Instagram, status updates on FB, posting blogs on WordPress, etc a VPN is required. The Great Firewall of China currently also blocks Twitter, Google, Australian news and media websites, etc.
WeChat. Must. Have. WeChat.
A few years ago WeChat was similar Whatsapp, however it has evolved to be much more superior with some very fancy and useful functions. The wallet function is my favourite. I pay my bills, top up my phone credit, pay my rent, pay for groceries, transfer money to friends, pay for restaurants. pay for my taxi… all without a bank card or internet banking.
Getting connected to other Australians has been fun. Associations like AustCham, ACYPI and ACYA run events in Shanghai. These have been good for meeting other Aussies who are working and studying in other areas of the city.
Living in China has so far been pretty incredible. The city is huge, it’s buzzing with life and fun. I ride my bicycle everywhere. Travelling to other areas of China has also been pretty amazing also. The week before class I travelled to the far west of China, Xinjiang:
Looking forward to an exciting 6 months in China!
Jyana Mareko – 10558880