Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Who knew that shopping could actually be fun...

Hello again!  I hope this finds everyone doing well back home.  Just as a warning, this post is a little longer.  I know a lot of you are busy with school or work so let me know if this is post is an acceptable length or a too long.  I fixed the commenting section so you should be able to do that easier now.  Just choose anonymous from the drop down menu, just include your name in your post so that I know how to respond to you.  Thanks!
The hotel we're staying at

This last week has definitely had its ups and downs.  We dove into classes this week and so far, they have been long, boring, and cold.  Classes start around 8:30 or 10 in the morning and end at 3 or 4:15 respectively.  We do get 10 minute breaks every hour and a half or so and a break for lunch.  In the end, it means for a long day in a cold room.  Fortunately, our language course has immediate application and our culture class is pretty interesting if only because of our teacher.  It’s really interesting to consider that Chinese culture and history goes back for 4,000 years while America is less than 300 years old.

Lost in translation...
I also want to take some time to talk about a couple of the stereotypes that follow Chinese people over to America.  Keep in mind that these are just observations.  Smoking, everyone does it.  I have no idea why it’s so popular, but it seems like many Chinese people smoke.  The weird part is seeing people smoke in restaurants and other public places.  It’s been a long time since people have been able to do that in America and it took a while to get used to.  Driving also comes to mind when discussing stereotypes about the Chinese.  I can completely see this, the driving here is insane!  With all the mopeds, bicycles, cars, trucks and pedestrians weaving in and out of each other, I’m amazed that I haven’t seen someone killed yet.  I myself have almost been hit my several mopeds, and on one occasion, a bus.  (Don’t worry Mom, I jumped out of the way in time!)  It truly is an amazing thing to see the way traffic moves here.  It all seems so much more efficient.  I now understand that if a Chinese person, with a lot of experience driving here, goes to America and tries to drive the same way they would be considered a menace on the roads. 

On Thursday, I realized that I needed some more essential clothing supplies.  This resulted in me going off into the city to find a Carrefour store.  This store was described to me as the “Meijer of China.”  I can only describe this store as a Meijer, underground, compacted, with traffic comparable with the vehicles above ground, and samples of alcohol (Baileys).  I went there to find some shirts/underwear/socks but the only clothing items they had really confused me.  It amounted to what appeared to be fleece onesies in sizes much smaller than what I need.  I think they are also considered men’s intimate apparel based on the number of couples looking at them, the ornate boxes, the words “enjoy yourself” written all over the packages, the women’s lingerie positioned next door to the display, and all the quizzical looks I received by looking at it myself.  In the end, I left with a demonic looking rabbit that was in the Chinese new year section.  It was also interesting going through the city myself to see how many people stared at me, which in groups it isn’t as noticeable.  But by myself, I was able to see that most people stared at me as I walked past them or stood at an intersection.

On Friday evening I finally got a taste of bartering here in China.  And I must say, if shopping was more like this in the States, I wouldn’t dread doing it so much!  It’s very satisfying to see an item listed at 400 Yuan and immediately give and offering price of 75 Yuan.  The shopping center also had an older feel to it.  That was really nice since all we have seen so far is modern looking architecture.  I was also able to walk out of a couple of the shops with really nice things that I’m sure people back home will really enjoy.  I’ve decided that I need to go there with a pre-determined amount of money so that I don’t spend more than I can afford.  This is honestly the first time I’ve ever had the sentiment that I can spend more than financially feasible, good thing I have the parent’s credit card for “emergency” situations!  (Again Mom, just kidding!)

If you want to send me a letter in the mail for some reason, the address is as follows:
Shanghai Jiao Tong University Faculty Club
Grant Robinson - Room 318
No. 1954 Huashan Road
Shanghai 200030
Anything you send to that address needs to arrive before February 19th.  I have no idea how long it takes for something to get here.

Check the links to more photos below.  The new photos start with an empty juice bottle.  I know, really exciting.  And that's all for now, leave comments if you dare!