First week of classes done, and a slightly jarring experience at that. At least I wasn't the only one! It seems that Chinese class is going to take a ton of work, and my area studies are endurance sessions because the afternoon hours are the most difficult for me to stay awake. Looks like I shouldn’t over do the dumplings at lunch! No complaints though, it’s wonderful to have my mind engaged and learning again... in China. I think we all just need to settle into a scholarly routine that accommodates the bustling opportunities and fun of Shanghai.
Monday night I went to Jing'an Stadium to play ultimate frisbee with the Shanghai Ultimate League. Now, you may or may not know, but I am obsessed with frisbee at this point. I love my team, I love the culture of the sport, and now that I have a decent throw I simply love playing! So once I knew that I was coming to Shanghai, I premeditated my membership with this group in.. November, perhaps? It was a thrill to finally walk onto the turf (thanks for the cleats, Courtney!) and play with a solid mix of Chinese and ex-patriate players. Despite my burn heart reminding how out of shape I am, dashing to and from, hollering for cuts, flimsy tosses, trying to learn frisbee lingo in Chinese and making new friends was for one of greatest nights I’ve had here so far.
On Wednesday, our Chinese class of 4 students took a taxi down the road to a tea market! It was a clustered labyrinth of tea merchants and wares, inviting seekers in to taste some properly brewed leaves. The experience is nice as long as you purchase something from the merchant. We were given 30 yuan (rmb) to taste and haggle, but unfortunately beyond the price I didn’t understand much of their descriptions and claims. However, I’m quite the tea fanatic myself so I had a bit of background.
We were in pairs, and Hanley and I only were able to visit 3 tea shops in the two hours. This first man was upset that we didn't even have enough money to purchase 50g, forcing our teacher to buy some herself to calm him down! Otherwise it was fun watching them pour hot water all over the tray, skillfully stir the tea and give us cup after cup, after cup, after cup... no joke, I think I drank 15 cups at the second shop. By the end, we ended up with a lovely gift set of Tawainese oolong, green tea, mountain tea, a black and white.
The weather took a glorious swing from there, reaching the upper 70 degrees and into the 80s by Friday! We had our first program field trip on Friday to Tianzifang, an artsy SOHO-vibe enclave of Shanghai. It’s comprised of narrow alley ways with Shikumen and French Concession architecture, teeming with boutiques, hip restaurants and elegant crafts. We only had a few hours and I would love to return, explore, and try to bargain down the pricey goods. My friends and I were eager to sit on a rooftop terrace, so we entered a four-story restaurant that was unknowingly teddy bear-themed! Haha, I really didn’t understand but it was actually charming. Tianzifang has other themed eateries, like everything to do with the bathroom , or waitresses in French maid outfits.
Caroline and I, hanging out with giant teddy bears on a terrace couch. The mango smoothie was 48 yuan ($8) and then I bought cheesecake to go for 30 yuan from a trendy restaurant called Origin. You can change my location in the world, but you'll never change my stomach!
I’ll post soon again about the weekend. Saturday was great but I’m sad to say that Sunday was confined to my room catching up on studying and reading. I know I’ll balance it all eventually, I have to!
Listening: "Be A Body" by Grimes. Just purchased my ticket to see her in Shanghai on March 20th! YES!