Life in Shanghai

你好! Hello!

I’ve now been living in China for 3 weeks and I already love it here! I’m currently waiting for some chemicals I’ve ordered to arrive before I can really get in to my research so this post will be more about the general life and goings-on in Shanghai:

The iconic Pudong skyline in Shanghai

The iconic Pudong skyline in Shanghai

It seems that as an international student at Fudan University you will spend most of your first couple of weeks here queuing for one thing or another. When you first arrive there’s a long queue to sign into the dorm and register for your room key, you then have to queue to get cards for electricity and hot water (which you top up once you run out of either). A few days later you join the queue to sign up for your monthly stipend and then to get your ‘Introduction to Visa’ letter which has to be obtained in order to stay in China for longer than one month. Then there’s another queue to sign up for a medical exam (which itself requires you to queue for hours!) all before queuing to get your Residency Permit which allows you to stay in China for the year.

With all of that out of the way though, you are free to explore Shanghai and meet other students. It’s been incredibly easy to meet a lot of other foreign students here since we all live in the same dorm and all moved in around the same time. It’s like being a fresher all over again! Most of the other foreign students are here to learn Chinese or are doing a year abroad as part of an Arts degree; I’ve yet to meet another foreign science or PhD student! I have, though, already made a great group of friends who share my enthusiasm for Fudan, the Shanghai culture and, of course, the insane nightlife here … I’ll go into that a bit more later!

The Guanghua Twin Towers of Fudan University

The Guanghua Twin Towers of Fudan University

There are no cooking facilities in the dorms so we always eat out or in the student canteen, which is an interesting place. It’s a vast hall catering for thousands of students with rows of windows where you can see and ask for (or point to when your Chinese is as limited as mine) the dishes that take your fancy. You can’t always be sure exactly what you’re getting, a full range from tasty dumplings and noodle dishes to some unknown greyish meat on rice is available and sometimes even the servers are unsure what’s actually in the dishes they’re offering up. You can, at least, always be sure that whatever you’re ordering is a bargain! The most I’ve paid for a meal in the canteen so far is 8 RMB (i.e. 80 p), and the portions are always plenty large and usually more than I can finish (which, as my friends will know, is really quite unusual for me).

When the canteen doesn’t take your fancy though, there’s a huge range of restaurants just outside of the campus where you can find all types of cuisine: Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Italian, American, Indian, Korean and, of course, Chinese! You can generally expect to pay between £4-£8 for a meal in one of these restaurants so they’re still pretty cheap by UK standards but the cost adds up quickly when you’re eating out for every meal so I’m going to try and stick to the canteen for the most part!

Tasty Chinese food: Noodle soup with roasted duck and dumplings!

Tasty Chinese food: Noodle soup with roasted duck and dumplings!

Not so tasty Chinese food: Chicken Feet!

Not so tasty Chinese food: Chicken Feet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, the nightlife … where to start? I spent yesterday at an all-day beach party to celebrate the full moon festival which is currently taking place here, a few nights before I was drinking champagne on the 93rd floor of the Shanghai World Finance Centre (entirely for free!), and just last weekend I was at an insane club which has a shark tank along the side wall! Shanghai is a city that never stops; every night there is some new and exciting place to visit. The drinks and food can be very expensive in the city centre but there is always some place or other offering unlimited free drinks as long as you know a club promoter (we met one on our first night out here so they’re not difficult to find!).

Champagne on the 93rd floor!

Champagne on the 93rd floor!

I’ll be starting some classes in Chinese next week and the materials I need for my new research / synthetic work should arrive in the next couple of days so I’m looking forward to being able to get stuck in properly. My supervisor, Prof Heyong He, and the PhD students in my group here at Fudan have been so helpful with giving me advice on how best to settle in here, translating for me when I needed to buy a sim card and helping me set up a bank account etc so they seem like a good group of people to be working alongside. I’m going to be branching into a related but new area of research this year to make the most of their expertise so I’m looking forward to learning some new analytical techniques … and hopefully getting over my fear of NMR!

I’ll post another update soon about the lab facilities and chemistry department here once I’ve made a start on synthesizing some crystals!

 

凯蒂 (Katie)

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