Don’t Forget Your Phone and Umbrella
The first letter from Shanghai is in! Vivi Feng knows what to take along when venturing out into the Chinese metropolis.
Nov 28, 2019
When I first got here in August it was hot and humid, around 35°C (95°F), but over the last few weeks I’ve learned that if I want to stay dry I always need to take my umbrella with me when I leave the house. I was also surprised at how dependent people are on smartphones in this city. You need one for everything from paying for groceries to renting a bicycle to calling a taxicab. You can’t get by without using apps like WeChat Pay or Alipay. Hardly anyone uses cash.
I was able to move into a Fudan University dormitory on September 1, where four of us share a small apartment with four single rooms, two bathrooms, and a hallway. I was very happy about getting a room of my own, since Chinese students often have to sleep four to six to a room. At first, I was disappointed that there was no kitchen, but since the cafeteria on campus has a great selection of Chinese food at incredibly cheap prices, it soon didn’t bother me at all.
As a language student, I had to take two short placement exams during orientation week to determine how good my Chinese was. It gave me a chance to meet some fellow students right away. I was amazed to meet students from all over the world who had the same goal as me – to learn Chinese!
I was also impressed at how well some of my classmates speak Chinese, given that, unlike me, most of them didn’t grow up in a Chinese-speaking family. They come from Korea, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, France, England, and the USA.
I am taking 20 hours of Chinese per week, but luckily that still gives me time to explore some of the leisure activities here at Fudan University, like dance. I also have time to meet up with friends in the evening. Who knows what the next few months will bring – I’m curious to find out and look forward to telling you all about it.