Two months have flown by so quickly and my exchange is nearing its end in the grand metropolitan city of Shanghai. In Shanghai there are roughly around 24 million people, which shows in everyday life. There is not a moment where you are alone and the lines in TAMKs cafeteria look very short after living in Shanghai. I had never been in China before coming here and boy oh boy has it been an experience.
I am studying in Shanghai University or SHU or ShangDa as the locals like to call it. Shanghai University is the most popular university among young people in Shanghai because of the good teaching and high-quality research. I have five courses, Chinese language, introduction to the Chinese economy and society, social changes is contemporary China, Chinese culture and foreign trade of China. University life to local students is hard, but not for us foreigners. Mostly our courses have only very long lectures (around 3 and half hours), group presentation and final essay, only in Chinese language we have an actual final exam. When compared to TAMK, the lectures are pretty similar. Communication within school is done mostly in WeChat since the school’s tabula-like environment is only in Chinese, which is a bit of a bummer. All in all, the school is pretty nice, except for the classrooms. They have benches attached to tables and are not built for anyone taller than 165cm.
To me, China and Shanghai have shown its beauty in a very spectacular way, the old and the new. I have admired the city’s old architecture in Yu garden while distancing myself from the never sleeping megacity. I also have admired the futuristic area of Pudong, named to be the “Wall street of Asia”, during nighttime and been to the worlds’ second tallest building. I have enjoyed my coffee in the biggest Starbucks in the world and also sipped my tea in the oldest teahouse in Shanghai. During my spare time I like to visit different districts of Shanghai and get to know the local life. Unlike many think, Shanghai and China is very western and not that cheap, except for food. Food is cheap, it’s delicious and there’s a lot of it. You can find any type of cuisine from around the world in Shanghai, because of its history of being a port city. Sadly, the true Shanghainese food is a bit too sweet for my taste and I have to admit that I still prefer Cantonese cuisine over Shanghainese.
In general, if you are up for an experience and willing to step far away from your comfort zone, I can recommend Shanghai and China. Just last week we experienced one of the biggest “unrestricted internet” blockades on the year, which was hilarious and annoying at the same time. Luckily, it only lasted a week and now everyone is back at finding good academic sources from google for their final essays. It has been nice to experience a completely different culture and get to understand China, but I am still more than fond of Finnish culture. I appreciate the quietness I have not experienced here in the past two months and the Finnish cuisine of not adding sugar and fat to every dish imaginable.
- Emmi Haapasalo