We’ve been in Shanghai for a little over a week now (I’m publishing this way past when I wrote it because VPN’s and things) and I’m still so excited to be here. Every time we go to the Bund and see the skyline of the financial district it hits me that we’re really in China and we get to live here for two months.
One of the best parts of the experience is getting to live with a Chinese roommate who can hold our hand through all of the challenges of being in a country with a completely different language and culture. My roommate Susie (诗婷) is so sweet and wonderful and I couldn’t be more grateful to the program coordinator who matched us up. Even though we grew up on opposite sides of the planet sometimes I feel like we’re the same person. She’s also been able to help me navigate things like ordering food in the cafeteria and has saved me a few times when I’ve been too nervous to try to speak Chinese.
The other Pitt students and myself are all living in the Donghua University Hotel which is about a minute walk away from the building where we have our classes and a 3-minute walk away from the cafeteria (which has super cheap but incredible food). The area we’re living in has plenty of food around us and the best part is probably the proximity to the metro. A walk down the street gets you to the station where you can go anywhere from the Bund, to the former French Concession, or just about anywhere. The metro is fast and clean and there’s English everywhere which has helped all of us who can’t read that much Chinese to get around easily.
There haven’t been many problems that I’ve encountered since being here, although the mosquitoes can be a bit of a nuisance and there was one day it poured all day. Communicating with family and friends back home is probably the biggest challenge considering the time difference, how busy we are, and that we’re using new methods of communication (like WeChat). However, no challenge has felt insurmountable yet (especially as a result the support of other students and our roommates). There’s definitely a learning curve about how to get all of our work done and find time to explore the city but we’re all doing our best to juggle everything.
I’m looking forward to the next two months and even just being here for a little more than a week is making consider doing other, longer study abroad programs, perhaps again in China.