Unsure on the actual name of this delicious item, but I refer to it as the “Shanghai Taco”

Now that I’ve been here in China for a month and a half, I consider myself more acclimated to the hustle and bustle that is Shanghai. For the first couple weeks, I found it hard, or at least harder than I thought before I left California. I miss a lot of things from back home, but some things I have grown accustomed to while being here. There are probably more than five things that I have adjusted to, but here are the five that I notice most.

1. The Length of the Class

Since all classes at Fudan are dependent on credit hours/ units, all my classes are about 2 hours and 40 minutes long. Despite having breaks throughout the class period, spending almost three hours in a classroom has proven to be taxing on my body and mind. The first couple weeks were hard, but I’ve found that I’m adjusting to this different style.

Photo of the Guanghua Towers at Fudan University by Johanna Forsgren

2. Speaking Chinese

First off when I say speaking Chinese, I mean saying small phrases like “Hi, Yes, Take a right, or How much is this?”.  I am taking an Elementary Chinese class at Fudan, and I am picking up the language slowly. Knowing a few phrases and some vocabuary has kept me alive so far, but I hope I can learn enough to have small talk with the taxis drivers. Apparently taxis drivers in Shanghai like to talk it up, but I haven’t experienced that myself. Despite my basic knowledge of the language, I would say I am starting to understand the people around me more than anything else. Hearing Chinese everyday on the street was intimidating at first, but now I don’t even notice it.

3. Eating Local Food

Well before I even thought of studying abroad in China, I knew that the Chinese food in America was not really Chinese food. Yes, that does mean that Beef Broccoli and Chop Suey are not really Chinese. Broccoli is actually not even a native or traditional vegetable of China or Chinese cuisine; it is Italian. And, despite not being able to find some of my favorite “Chinese” dishes, I have some new cool food places that are both cheap and safe to eat. I am not cooking at the apartment as much and I find myself blending more into the Chinese culture via their cuisine.

A street food vendor near campus

4. Getting Laundry Done

Doing laundry here in Shanghai is different than back home. Thankfully, there is a washing machine in the apartment, so I don’t have to worry about walking to the nearest laundry mat. But, despite the convenience of an in-unit washing machine, the machine isn’t as efficient. Each load takes significantly longer, and the machine is in Chinese.  And, the biggest part of washing clothes here in Shanghai is the clothes line drying. It has been an adventure, especially when it is cold or rainy outside.

5. Walking Everywhere

Back home in the Bay Area, a lot of people own cars compared to Shanghai. However, scooters are a popular option for getting around. And, then there are people like me who rely heavily on public transportation. The metro and taxis are what I take when places are far away, but most of the time I walk to where I need to go. Thankfully everything I need is within a 15-20 minute walk like the metro station, Walmart, and Fudan. The first few weeks, I wished for a scooter or a car to get around places, but now I enjoy walking around the neighborhood and breathing in the city.

A beautiful day for walking around the university campus

Barbra Gould is a business student from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA and a TEAN Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad at Fudan University with TEAN in Shanghai, China.