Qi Pao​

上海 Blog #19
Monday June 8th, 2015
Local Time: 21:40 Shanghai Time
The fabric market was not my cup of tea. Tailor made dresses, suits and Qi Paos (traditional Chinese dresses) don’t really suit (haha punny) my sense of style (which doesn’t really exist if you know me and what I typically wear). I will admit though, some of the Qi Paos caught my fancy because of their rich and intricate designs, but I wasn’t about to blow $80-100 USD on it because I certainly wouldn’t wear it in the states. So I really only made it out of the fabric market with nothing more than a magnet that doubles as a bottle opener (much needed for all the Jarritos we drink on the Spanish floor of the International Learning Community).

That brings me to my first and likely not last advertisement: if you are seriously interested in Study Abroad or learning a foreign language or traveling in the future or are simply just a cool, chill, maybe slightly nerdy person, you should ABSOLUTELY live in the UW-Madison Housing’s International Learning Community (ILC). I feel like I was well prepared to be comfortable on my experience abroad just by learning from the international students I met while living there. Plenty of American students who’ve been abroad also live there and their insight of the dos and don’ts of being abroad have also been invaluable. For example, my eagerness and “lack of shame” when it comes to speaking to people in Mandarin is something I gained from the ILC. My curiosity and ability to formulate questions to better understand my experience abroad was also cultivated in the ILC. When I go back to Madison in the fall, I will have people with whom I may actively discuss my experience abroad in a profound matter so I won’t simply be leaving my experience in China. Long story short, join the ILC. Seriously.

Back to today’s agenda, once we finished at the fabric market, we decided to engage in a subsequent activity which seemed to be the logical next step in the progression: going to another fake market. After all, why not market hop for the day? I must admit, it’s going to be weird going back to the US and not being able to barter for stuff. I can almost envision myself showing up at the student store and saying, “$16 dollars for a T-shirt?! 太贵了!我可以给你二十元(It’s too expensive! I can give you 20 kuai (which is roughly $3).”

Speaking of the US, I’ve sort of reached the point in the trip where I am really starting to miss home. The particular missed elements in question are food, family, friends, decent internet connection, public bathrooms with actual toilet paper and hand soap, and tap water. Ironically, the thing I miss most about good wifi is youtube so I can listen to my Chinese music. The wifi here is so bad YouTube is pretty much out of the question despite the VPN. It’s amusing I am able to listen to more Chinese music in the US than in China.
You never quite understand the value of wholesome ice water in a glass pulled straight from your kitchen tap or dorm’s drinking fountain. I’ve drank bottled water for two weeks straight now and it’s just missing that refreshing, mineral filled taste I seem to be craving lately.
I can’t stand walking into most public bathrooms here which seem to lack height to their seats, toilet paper in their stalls and soap at their sinks. Essentially, one should walk into any public bathroom here armed with a mini arsenal of toilet paper, napkins or tissues as well as a spot of hand sanitizer and perhaps a booster seat or stool with a sizable hole in it if you’d like your excretion experience to be as comfortable as what you are accustomed to in the states. Have I become used to this new manner of expelling waste in public spaces…. Yes. Do I like it… can’t say I’m a fan, no. Another complaint I have about bathrooms here, private, public or otherwise, is that few of them seem to have any actual locks on them. Of those few public ones which do, they are virtually non-functional, and I have been walked in on during my duty (haha punny) doing by unsuspecting, little, old, Chinese ladies more times than I care to openly admit in this public forum. There seems to be little concept of preserving privacy here. Oh well, I suppose we are absolutely spoiled in America and I will never again take my bathroom privileges at home for granted ever again.
As far as food goes, I will be seeking the following when I return to the US in two weeks:
• Salad with ranch, Caesar or Blue Cheese dressing, smothered in feta cheese crumbles, black olives, onions, hard boiled eggs and loads of bacon
• No less than four Culver’s Butter Burgers with pickles and Onions and a medium lemon ice topped with cherries for dessert
• Ice filled tap water accented with lemon
• Five year aged white cheddar cheese (specifically of the blue mountain variety) from the farmer’s market
• A tuna fish sandwich with lettuce, onion, craisins and cheese
• Bacon and onion pizza
• Steak and cheesy potatos
• French fries in barbeque sauce
• Spaghetti with meat sauce loaded with parmesan cheese
• Actual Mexican fajitas
• Cauliflower, Broccoli Cheddar, or French Onion Soup
• Buffalo wings or a buffalo chicken wrap

As you may have noticed, cheese is not commonly served here, which REALLY is a huge loss if you’re from Wisconsin. Salads, sandwiches, and breads of any type are also difficult to come by as are substantial amounts of lean meats, which as you can imagine, makes many western dishes largely out of the question. I will say, it will likely take me some time to reacquaint with the Americanized version of Chinese food because the gap between what we eat at home and what actual Chinese people eat here is so wide you’d hardly recognize the two as belonging to any sort of similar category. Needless to say, I will never look at Chinese take-out the same way ever again.
There are however, some elements of Chinese cuisine I will forever miss once I return home. For example, Happy Lemon serves Orange Mango Green Tea with QQ Jelly that is too delicious and refreshing to describe. Also, nobody knows how to cook up some leafy greens quite like the family style restaurants in town and the ice cream bars on sticks served downstairs and the Chinese McDonalds will be greatly missed. Yeah, I’ll let you know if I think of anything else….
To close out my post for this slightly misty Monday eve, shout out to those of you I miss right now. You know who you are and if you don’t or aren’t sure, you might want to check in with me regarding our status, because that’s sort of an unhealthy disconnect. I’ll be honest, I’m pretty sick of taking pictures of stuff by now, but I sort of do anyway, not for me, but for all of you. I still wish I could have brought you all with me and I suppose pictures my way of being able to share my experience with you as if you were right here with me. Maybe next time my stopping ground lacks a US address, you will be.

Qi Paos at fabric market
Qi Paos at fabric market
Front gate
Front gate