University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China – 1st Impressions

Two weeks I got on a plane from Sydney to a country where I couldn’t speak a word of the local tongue and didn’t know a single soul living here. The thought was daunting to say the least. Two weeks on I’m thanking myself for taking that dive into the deep end, loving every minute of such an underrated country. Continue reading “University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China – 1st Impressions”

China Exchange, The Trip Of a Lifetime

I am currently halfway through my exchange experience studying at Shanghai University in China. A fact that I am still coming to grips with, it seems that only a week ago I said goodbye to my family and friends and hopped on a plane to China. I feel like that really summarizes the most outstanding feature of shanghai, that being that this is one hell of a faced paced city. Continue reading “China Exchange, The Trip Of a Lifetime”

Ni Hao from Shanghai!

Shanghai has proven to be an astonishingly multifaceted city to live in. Seven months drifted by in a flash, and I find myself dumbfounded by how much time has passed since I first landed at Pudong Shanghai International Airport with my humungous luggage and a few phrases of Chinese. Thanks to all the advices from family and friends, my envisioned image of Shanghai was jam-packed with stereotypes. “For an entire year you won’t see the sky, have a good steak, drink milk and a mask is a must”- they say. So far, living in shanghai I’ve only worn a mask twice, have had a decent steak and drank surprisingly good old Devondale Aussie milk.

However, in hindsight I realised that the surprises and struggles made up the memorable moments of this experience. For fellow Shanghai International Students you know exactly what I’m talking about, yes the spitting. The sound of the initial “kaarrgh” from the throat signifies the inevitable incoming “splat”. We’ve all developed many theories, and thus far has decided on blaming the pollution. The metro experience was also one to remember. Due to prior warnings I came prepared. My backpack slung to the front, I was determined to conquer, and conquer I did. Like sardines in a can, I was certain not even another single passenger could fit in, but hey, to my surprise there’s always room for more. I waved goodbye to my stop then jumped on the next metro back. Now I’m proud to say that jumping on and off the metro is a ‘piece of cake!’. In the first few weeks here, I’ve discovered my love for the phrase “这个” (this). Just one simple phrase, but do not underestimate its’ value, it was a survival tool for quite a length of time.

Oh and I mustn’t forget the stinky tofu experience. Just a turn from the impressive City central Nanjing East road, are small alleyways, cluttered with street food stalls. The first stall I came across had ‘fried tofu’ or so I thought, with mouthwatering-looking sauces to go with it. Without hesitation, I took a mouthful…and many things happened after that shall never be spoken off.

The highlight of my experience so far is without doubt the short trips I squeezed in here and there throughout the semester. Now I can tick off Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Henan and most recently, Mt Yandang from the ‘I was here list’, but there’s still so much to see and so little time. Initially, overwhelmed by culture shock and homesickness, the prospects of being here one year seemed endless, now I find myself wishing if only I had more time.

Yandang Mountain
Yandang Mountain
Suzhou Watertown “China’s Venice” – Night life
Suzhou Watertown “China’s Venice” – Night life
The Great Wall of China !
The Great Wall of China !
Shanghai University Study Tour – Henan (The Longman Grottoes)
Shanghai University Study Tour – Henan (The Longman Grottoes)

Ratha Ang – 11029547

From Shanghai, With Love.

IMG_5225_2

Week 5 in China and boy has been one heck of a roller-coaster ride. So firstly, I just have to say, Shanghai is bloody amazing. Shanghai is the largest city proper in the world with a permanent population of 24 million people.  This a city that fascinates and intrigues… around every corner a different scene is waiting to be discovered and spectated upon. This is a city full of immense contrast; bamboo carts & bicycles ride along side luxury European cars, some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers dwarf the old Shikumen neighbourhoods (19th C. Shanghainese housing). The charming former European concession district has become neighbourhoods of hip bars, clubs, restaurants and boutique shopping and more, and even just going for a stroll here is really lovely. There are so many street vendors selling an array of foods and products. Every driver on roads here feels the need to constantly beep their horn (for absolutely no reason as well) it’s a crazy phenomenon, and catching a taxi is nothing less than a thrill ride. Here in Shanghai, taxi drivers get paid by the distance they drive, not time. So they get you from A to B in the shortest time possible so they can pick someone else up. It’s awesome, but a bit scary at times. There is an incredible vibrancy about this city.  Something not to be missed are some of Shanghai’s ancient water towns, these are further out from the modern “center” and so I’ve only been to 2 so far (with many more planned), but they are simply splendid. There is so much history here in Shanghai, it’s fascinating.

11951218_10208033373938464_5981687436991955394_n11990611_10208033385618756_3893837827740839466_n

So part of my initial “shock adjustment” period was actually getting use to the prices here. When it comes to the cost of things… how do I put this… it’s different. Firstly, there’s no consistency in prices here, and secondly, things you would expect to be expensive are really cheap and things that are “Aussie Staples” (bread and butter, milk and coffee) are hellish expensive. Let me run through a brief list of examples. One bar can sell you a beer for 80 RMB whilst the one next door can offer the same beer for 10 RMB. A brand new bicycle? 500 RMB (119 AUD), a piece of steak? 300 RMB (71 AUD), Jar of bolognese sauce (to mix thru with some pasta)? forget it, 60 RMB. Language textbook at 68 RMB (16 AUD) verse a box of cereal at 60 RMB (14 AUD). I still keep thinking to myself, how can textbook and box of cereal be almost the same price? Now for the killer, Milk (and all things dairy), I love milk. I drink a lot of milk, until moving to China that was. 1L of Australian milk is 49 RMB (12 AUD), however even the local “home brand” Chinese milk, is still a hefty 16RMB (3.90 AUD) per 950ml. Let us just say, I’ve had a huge change in diet recently. Don’t get me wrong, the food is amazing here, it’s just different set of “staples”. On the flip side, fruit and veges are significantly cheaper here, a fruit platter for just 20 RMB is a bargain by Aussie standards.  But in short, everything I’ve ever known about what things should cost has been totally flipped on its head.

IMG_4874IMG_5293

I’m studying Architecture at Tongji University, which was a terrific decision on my part because some of the work I’ve seen from local students is just incredible and it’s inspiring actually. It’s a very competitive school to get into and so the students are coming from all over China to study Architecture here. The campus here on Sipping Road is massive, it’s nothing like UTS. It’s very spread out and very green, which was surprising given we are in the center of Shanghai. Most of the international students here are mostly coming from Germany, France and various African nations, I have yet to meet any other Aussie’s here except for the lovely Jyana who is also from UTS. Even at the 8 Universities of Shanghai international student party, I didn’t meet any Aussies which was a real shame. I would say the main international student community here in Shanghai is definitely Germans. They are absolutely lovely people, quite similar to Aussies I think and so they’re easy to get along with. However, I would like to see a bigger presence of Australian’s actually. It’s in our interest to build stronger relations with China and I believe more Aussie students here would be one way of assisting this process perhaps.

Brendon Hori

UTS ID 11439433

IMG_5316

11990496_10208033368258322_8605647092358758258_nIMG_5339

Sun Yat Sen University, Guangzhou – China!

This is my first time travelling to China. Since it has such a big influence on Australia (people, immigration, food, economy, trade, politics…) so it made sense to me that I come over here to check it all out! I chose Guangzhou because it wasn’t one of the larger cities (Shanghai and Beijing), it’s in the South so it doesn’t get as cold in winter (I love the warmth) and I had heard that the environment (air quality and surroundings) is nicer than other cities. So here I am.

Before coming here I didn’t learn any Chinese at all. When I got off the plane and jumped on the airport transfer bus, the ticket man and driver both knew no English so this is when I knew I was in for a challenge.  Having said that thought, it hasn’t been that hard to get by. I have used a translation app on my phone when I really need it and other times I have asked people to help translate. Most young people do know English so especially at uni you can just ask a random person to help and they always do (in my experience everyone has been very helpful!).

IMG_1128

(Lunch with our Chinese buddy Dylan)

IMG_1070

(My first dumplings in China – I’ve been back here multiple times)

IMG_1105

(Hole-in-the-wall place to get lunch close to uni)

To me the culture shock from moving to Guangzhou hasn’t been too extreme at all. I have been to other Asian cities and in comparison to others like Bangkok and KL, Guangzhou is pretty “normal” and quiet “western”. Just feels like I’m wondering through Haymarket sometimes 🙂 I’m sure when I get out and explore the smaller villages this will change.

Getting ready to start classes at Sun Yat Sen was a very long process. I am based on the South Campus (the most beautiful!) and when I registered there were dorm rooms available but there were not good and many exchange students were looking for apartments to share. I found a couple of students to share with (a girl from the US and  a guy from France) and we found an apartment on the 32 floor with views of the river and very close to uni.

The South Campus of Sun Yat Sun University is beautiful. It’s the size of a suburb. There are parks, lakes, sports fields, housing (for students, teachers and their extended families, lots of grandparents looking after babies), businesses, swimming pools, canteens, cafes, hotels and many different schools/colleges. I’m studying Level 1 Chinese in the School of Chinese as a Second Language.

As it is coming out of summer and the wet season here, the place is LUSH. Plants of all kinds are overgrown everywhere. In some places it’s like a magical, overgrown secret garden wonderland. Especially in the morning and afternoon when the sun is shining sideways through the trees. This morning, just as I was walking to my first class I noticed that there were gums trees outside my classroom.

aLilly lake (2)

aNorth gate (3)

Another field (2) ariver and North gate (2) aroof decorations (2) aSYS from the back (2) aThe campus (2) aUnder my umbrella (2) aWater lillies (2) Building1 (2) Green grass as far as the eye can see (2)

If you are thinking of coming to Sun Yat Sen on exchange, feel free to contact me and I’ll fill you in with more details about the classes, accom etc… WeChat ID: rosef5 (WeChat is the Chinese version of Facebook – everyone has it!)

UTS #: 11852908