上海 Blog #9
Friday May 29th, 2015
Local Time: 23:00 Shanghai Time
We had our first class quiz today in Chinese International relations. The quiz was oral and consisted of reading an article for ten minutes with five questions in mind. Then, Zhang 老师 called on students individually to answer a question. I got to go second. Yay for me (that was sarcasm people). 我考试考得不错 （The quiz went alright）, though I felt grossly underqualified to comment on the subject at hand. I wonder if this concept of an oral quiz is representative of Chinese academic assessment. I should ask Zhai老师.
After some delicious牛肉拉面(beef hand-pulled noodle stir-fry ) for a fair 8 人民币 (8 RMB/Kuai/Yuan), we was off to the Shanghai film museum. My favorite part of the museum was by far the anime section (who knew the Japanese weren’t the only ones to make anime) and also the interactive exhibits that demonstrate how Chinese films have been made over the years. I was surprised to learn Chairman Mao’s wife was a huge fan of western films, so even during China’s isolationist years, the political elite had secret access to American and European films, which I find heavily amusing given China’s media censorship history. Speaking, of just a tip for media access in China. VPN’s are the best. I can access google sites, Facebook, MSN news and YouTube only through my VPN connection to Madison. Highly, highly recommend before venturing into a media censored country.
Who do I see on a billboard upon exiting the museum’s premises? Why none other than Taylor Swift. Some things in this world are just universal. Our next stop was supposed to be a Catholic church turned tourist attraction. But funny story that….
My mother has been telling you ever since I was big girl enough to dress myself that I should dress well to church. A nice dress or maybe some black pants and a blouse. Instead, for about a dozen or so years I’ve been wearing shorts and a t-shirt to God’s house with little to no remorse. Well, for the first time in my life, it’s snuck up on me and completely bit me in the 屁股 (arse). My family’s long lineage of devout Catholics I’m sure would have been proud to watch my admittance to the threshold rejected due to my blue jean shorts. Oops. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one dressed too scantily to enter the cathedral-turned-tourist-attraction, so we four musketeers trudged off to buy a delightful, chocolatey ice cream concoction on a stick that almost made it worth the shame.
Dinner was difficult. I’ll be frank, I am just about sick and tired of noodles. I have eaten way too much 面 the past four or so days. So I caved and searched for western food. In fact, all I really craved was a tuna fish sandwich. However, finding no Subways in my future, I and a few friends settled on a Burger King, which did not provide me the same enlightenment experience featured by the McDonalds the previous day.
Back at Hua Dong Shi Da (East China Normal University), I discovered the true difficulty of Chinese Calligraphy during a 90 minute session taught by three art majors who speak decent but broken English (他们说英文不错)。I wrote my Chinese name, 包海莉, a couple times as well as a few Chinese song lyrics I could remember. One major element missing from my Calligraphy was patience, which unfortunately, one needs to make a half decent looking work. Thankfully, I realized that when I write smaller, the amount of patience necessary decreases exponentially, and the tiny size of the characters makes them both look neater and hides mistakes.
The best part of the Calligraphy excursion by far through was making new Chinese friends. The three students who taught the lesson (I can’t for the life of me remember their actual names, but their English names are LiLi, Lewis and Cecilia) asked for my number so that we can hang out. They’re in the market to improve their English and said they’d be willing to teach me some Chinese along the way. For the first time, I actually felt really thankful to be a native English speaker. Over one billion people in the world are learning English as a second language and I don’t have to! After the seminar, I gave them my Chinese number and created a WeChat account (preferred social media of China) so they could message me for free. I can’t wait to get to know them better!