加油 [jiā yóu] means "Add oil," or an encouraging "Refuel and get after it!" One of my favorite Chinese phrases.
Despite this, I'm pining for the weekend, either this past or the coming. There is a certain inevitability as a college student to face the all-nighter, no matter where you're studying. It happened once or twice to me in France, numerous times at school, and now I'm about to go forth with it here in China. Now that we're at the sixth(!!) week mark, it's midterms! Hoo-rah, I have a three part Chinese test to prepare for, as well as three papers to write (one for International Relations, two for Issues in Chinese society). I certainly could/should have planned this better, but I was having too much fun this weekend exploring Shanghai. And blogging. Right now.
Kat and I went to the Shanghai Museum in People's Square, an immense hall with free admission to see four floors of ancient Chinese furniture, ceramics, and calligraphy scrolls. We had lunch together then moved forward in history to Shanghai's emerging contemporary art scene, the epicenter being Moganshan Road (莫干山路)! It is a haven for contemporary artists (Chinese and otherwise) to display their work on graffiti'd streets, in quiet and intimate galleries, warehouses transformed into lofts, and off-beat cafes. It's a stimulating, imaginative area, and hopefully grows in the future. Contemporary art can be raw, shocking, creepy and confusing, which I like because you have to observe critically. I'm a fan of the historical reappropriations, like Mao Zedong pop culture paintings. Out of respect for the artists I didn't take any photos, but I really enjoyed the area because the gallery curators aren't scrutinizing when you come in to browse and appreciate the work, rather than buy. It's also next to the river, so on an equally beautiful and sunny day, I will be back!
On Sunday, I didn't try rousing my friends and took off wandering by myself at 9:30. I had some locations in mind, such as the Confucian Temple 上海文庙 in the Old City/Huangpu District. If you don't already know, I have a horrendous sense of direction, even if I can use a GPS street navigator. So of course when I exited the metro, I walked for 20 minutes around the block in the entirely wrong direction. But since this is Shanghai, walking the wrong way isn't necessarily wrong, because there is life to see everywhere, at anytime!
Then I found the Confucian Temple tucked on a side street. I was determined to go Sunday because of the weekly book market (how fitting!). There were mainly male sellers and customers and browsers, and obviously lots of dusty books I may never be able to read, but what another enjoyable way to spend a sunny morning.
I bought two Mao-era propaganda posters (lady power-related, the CCP was trying to promote gender equality) and went back and forth haggling for calligraphy scrolls-- looks like the work at the Shanghai museum left an impression on me! I kept complaining about the condition of some of the paper, that some were too large and others not pretty enough, walking away and coming back-- pretty amusing! I was pleased with the price I ended up with because I had all these men smirking and guffawing at my attempts to lower the price. Later, Waipo told me that I really paid too much, but I think that if vendors sense your foreigner-status, you will always end up paying too much. That would be great, if by the end of the semester, I could receive a price that a native would.
I really spent too much money here this weekend. It's deceiving with the exchange rate is in our favor, but aside from the art, I also bought some gear in preparation for my CIEE week-long trip. I'm leaving Friday morning at 5 AM with 24 students and 3 teachers for the glorious southern province of Yunnan!! I am absurdly excited, and I will be sure to post briefly before I go. At this point, it's the light at the end of the tunnel.