Day 106: Aromatic Massage

According to my Fitbit, I walked about 25,000 steps yesterday. Yes, 25,000. So the massage I received today at CHI: The Spa at the Jing’an Shangri-La hotel could not have come at a better time.

I nearly fell asleep during it, and it made me pretty tired throughout the rest of the day. Tired or relaxed? Whatever it was, I just wanted to sleep at the mixer.

CHI: The Spa at Jing'an Shangri-La

Treatment room.

CHI: The Spa at Jing'an Shangri-La

The reception area sells the spa’s amenities, including slippers and towels.

CHI: The Spa at Jing'an Shangri-La

The beautiful reception area.

Day 105: Curiosity

It’s amazing how quickly and surreptitiously I can take photos now. Today, for example, I saw someone in a cute bear costume outside one of Fudan’s dining halls. I have no idea why it was there, but I just had to try to snap a photo. Given how quickly I did it, I didn’t expect to have taken a good shot, but somehow, I came out with this:

Bear costume on Fudan campus


IT’S NOT BLURRY. And it even aligns perfectly according to photography’s “rule of thirds.” Amazed. I also finally took a photo of one of Fudan’s many roaming cats. Usually, I don’t have the balls to whip out my phone and take a photo, with people around, but this time, I had taken a route with no one around, and the cat didn’t run away before I managed to take a photo. Success.

Cat on Fudan campus

Finally got a photo of one of the many roaming cats on Fudan’s campus.

Day 104: What Are Nails?

My manicure from Helen Nail Spa more than a month ago has lasted an impressively long time. At last, having discovered some rare free time this afternoon after my Chinese film midterm, I went to a nail salon next to the Tohee International Student Village, where manicures cost as cheap as 48 RMB, with gel starting at 78 RMB.

The shop can only fit two customers at a timeā€”it’s that small. When I entered, two customers had been sitting around waiting for their pedicures to dry, and two employees sat huddled together on their phones. A friend of theirs sat in front of one of the two seats.

Walking in, I asked in Chinese if I could get a manicure now. Unfortunately, “nails” in Chinese is apparently annoyingly difficult to pronounce, so the employees didn’t understand, but luckily, their friend repeated it for them in Chinese in the correct tones.

I had heard from other friends in the program who had visited this place that they knew English and wanted to improve it, but I guess through a combination of our shyness and lack of desire to communicate in Chinese or even English, we largely remained silent, while their friend occasionally reread messages from boys on WeChat to the employees, complained about being hungry, or said to no one in particular how busy she felt.

At first, their friend had asked me where I was from, among other questions, but her level of vocabulary was too high for me, so it was hard to understand. She assumed she was speaking too fast, but really, I just couldn’t understand her vocabulary. So that was that.

In the middle of the manicure, the other employee had taken a phone call from whom I assume was an international client. Afterward, she asked me what “nails” meant. I translated it in Chinese, and this time they understood, though my tones probably were still a bit off. Hmm, I thought. What happened to them knowing English? If anything, they should know what “nails” meant.

In a way, I did feel regretful for not communicating more throughout the hour-long manicure, but I simply wasn’t in the mood to. It was my time to relax, after all. They weren’t going to simplify their vocabulary or start speaking in English (I overheard their friend even saying that her English is quite good but she just can’t speak it). And I wasn’t about to keep asking what certain characters meant and have them think condescendingly of me. I shouldn’t be so self-conscious, though. Next time, I told myself.

Gel nails

Round two.

Day 103: Babies

Breakfast at the Holiday Inn was superb.

At our first stop of the day at Tiger Hill, we were largely just overwhelmed by the sheer size of tourists. We’ll never get used to it. Luckily, among the crowds are the cutest Chinese babies. We were all particularly fond of this bundle of joy.

Cute Asian baby at Tiger Hill

Cute Asian babies were everywhere.

Tiger Hill Pagoda

China’s Leaning Tower of Pisa: the Tiger Hill Pagoda.

A huge chunk of our time also was spent laughing at the unfortunate non-Asians of the group, who were subjected to taking photos with the locals.

Asian tourists' fascination with other-colored people

Someone please explain to me Asian tourists’ fascination with other-colored people.

Hanshan Temple

Hanshan Temple. I think I’ve visited quite enough temples within the past two months.

Day 102: Suzhou

After a bumpy 2-hour bus ride with the 24 of Fudan’s international students (including those from other schools), we arrived in rainy Suzhou.

Humble Administrator's Garden

Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou

Humble Administrator's Garden

Suzhou Silk Factory

Suzhou Silk Factory

Bride in the lobby of the Holiday Inn

Bride in the lobby of the Holiday Inn.

I must say the highlight was exploring the many shops and street food along Pingjiang Street.

Dog on Pingjiang Street

An adorable dog on Pingjiang Street.

Holiday Inn Youlian Suzhou

I don’t understand why it was necessary to tell us it’s soft. A pillow better be.

Day 101: Normal

On the way to my internship today, I encountered something that I’ve seen quite a few times in China but still am shocked by every time: transporting items that should belong on a truck on a wheelbarrow or bike.

Chair transportation

This isn’t even the most impressive method I’ve seen in China.

I’ve seen bikers navigate busy streets with load of boxes or other cargo stacked taller than a truck behind them. Normal.

Day 99: Fitbit Flex

Someone at the mixer tonight let me borrow his Fitbit Flex for a week. SO. EXCITED.

Fitbit Flex


In other news, I noticed this bulletin board right outside the North campus dining hall after breakfast with the day’s paper.

Fudan bulletin board

A student pauses to read the day’s issue of China Daily on the bulletin board outside the dining hall.

Day 98: Welcoming The Admitted

The routine of classes has kicked in again.

With nearly perfect scores on both oral and written parts, it looks like the lack of studying didn’t affect my Chinese midterm results at all.

My Chinese professor finally got her Fudan ID card, so I invited her to eat lunch at the dining hall with me. It was her first time since her college days (not too far off), and she actually enjoyed it! We shared a table on the first floor near the lines, so we were surrounded by people. I usually sit in the smaller section near the back, so it doesn’t ever feel as overwhelming during lunch time.

Later, she joined us again for my Shanghai history class, as we are now covering what she had been most interested in learning more about: the May 4th/New Culture Movement.

After class, I headed to the JW Marriott Hotel off West Nanjing Road to speak at BU’s admitted students reception. The building itself is strikingly impressive, but the space we were in didn’t seem to accommodate the unexpectedly large number of people who showed up. With three other students in our Shanghai study abroad program, we answered some questions on stage in front of a standing room-only crowd and then broke off into the masses to answer questions from inquiring prospective freshmen and their parents.

For the first hour, we checked in and welcomed the students and their families, and with so many Chinese people with the same last names, I couldn’t help but find it amusing trying to search through pages and pages of “Chen” or “Zhang.”

View from JW Marriott Hotel in Shanghai

The amazing evening view of Shanghai from the JW Marriott Hotel in Shanghai.

It was a fantastic experience (with several new WeChat contacts from it, as well!), and I’m happy to have at least convinced one student to choose BU over another school. The only thing I regret is not having taken the opportunity to practice my Chinese, even just a little bit. I did use it a bit at the check-in table and people did try speaking to me in Chinese, but in the end, I still didn’t push myself hard enough to converse in Chinese. I’m working on it.

When the event ended a little before 10 p.m. (did NOT expect for the event to last that long but chatting with prospective freshmen certainly made the time go quickly), the director of international admissions and her colleague treated us to dinner inside the hotel. Admittedly, the service was slow, and the food was okay, but it was a nice dinner with a fantastic view overlooking Shanghai.

Day 97: Last Day In Beijing

Even though the hotel’s WiFi has made updating my blog impossible while in Beijing, I must say its breakfast has been quite good. My favorite foods were the fried egg, carrot rice, almond cookies, and baby tomatoes. Mmm.

King Parkview Hotel Beijing

Last Chinese breakfast in the King Parkview Hotel!

Before heading to the airport, we made a final stop at the Temple of Heaven.

Temple of Heaven Circular Mound Altar

Each staircase of the Circular Mound Altar has exactly nine steps.

Temple of Heaven Circular Mound Altar

Through the architecture of the Circular Mound Altar, the emperor’s voice would be amplified upon standing in the center.

Temple of Heaven dancing

Joining a group of senior folks dancing at the Temple of Heaven.

Temple of Heaven activities

Among the many recreational activities among the locals found throughout Temple of Heaven, a game involving kicking a small weighted object decorated with feathers attracted the attention of the men in our group.

Temple of Heaven

So many people visited the Temple of Heaven.

Chess at the Temple of Heaven

Chess at the Temple of Heaven.

Temple of Heaven erhu player

A man plays the erhu near the exit of the Temple of Heaven.

Beijing airport game

The boys playing the kicking game attracted the kids at the airport gate area in Beijing.