I Think I’m Turning Shanghainese

Ni hao! Hard to believe, but I’ve officially hit my two-week Shanghai-versary. Andrew is a veteran compared to me now that he’s lived here for almost two months. The first two weeks have flown by with school starting immediately after I arrived. We’ve unfortunately not had much free time to explore Shanghai, but we’ve got two years to do that. In this first post we wanted to talk about what we have had time for, though, which is mainly eating (dumplings on dumplings on dumplings) and school/work.

Let’s start at the beginning, though, and go back to my arrival. After over 20 hours of travelling from Kansas, including a 13-hour flight to Shanghai, I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to meet up with Andrew at the airport. He was picking me up and told me he’d be waiting at the arrivals section when I landed, which left me at ease arriving in a foreign country solo knowing I’d be with him once I got there. Once I maneuvered my 250+ pounds of baggage through customs (all while holding up the line trying to push my trolley of stuff with locals behind me probably cursing at me in Chinese for being THAT foreigner) I spotted Andrew, aka my new luggage guy, in the arrivals waiting area.

We live about an hour away from the airport, which is about a $45 cab ride. I spent most of this cab ride in and out of sleep and was deliriously sleep talking about a frosty from Wendy’s of all things. I was sitting in the front seat with the cabby so I can only imagine what he thought about me, considering it was only 8 PM there. Once we got to our new apartment I got a second wind of energy since I was so eager to check out the place. We have a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment which, coming from Brooklyn where people live in closets, has more space than we know what to do with. While I looked at everything and opening literally every drawer and cabinet, Andrew treated me to a Boulevard Beer as a special treat. He found a case at an imported beer store in our ‘hood and splurged on it.

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Guys, our apartment is SO nice! Especially considering Andrew’s employer is providing it for us as part of his package. I think our only complaint is that the kitchen counters/sink come up to about mid-thigh level so we get a back ache whenever we do dishes. But that’s really nothing to complain about. We’re so lucky and grateful to have been provided this.

Food

We haven’t been as good as we should be about documenting the food we’ve been trying over here mainly because we’ve been too hungry and devour everything as soon as we get it, but here are some pics of what we’ve eaten. Nothing too adventurous yet.

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Soup dumplings the first night I arrived (Andrew ate one before I could take a picture)!

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Dinner for two – our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. Spicy chicken, pepper beef rice, vegetable curry, sweet and sour soup and dumplings of course.

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This little fish guy is filled with chocolate.

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All the peking ducks in a row.

School

So, I arrived on a Friday and I started school the next Monday so I dove right into it. The program I’m doing is an International Masters of Business Administration (IMBA) and is taught all in English at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (a Chinese University that just celebrated their 120th anniversary). The class is made up of around 75 students with about 70% of the students being Chinese natives. The other 30% mainly come from other Asian countries and a handful of students are from Europe and the Americas – I was surprised to find out I’m the only American!

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Entrance to my university.

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An official Jiao Tong student!

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Moon Cake with my school’s logo. Moon Cakes are filled with something sweet on the inside, pretty yummy.

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The stars represent where students are from. I’m that lone American star.

When I first arrived to class on day one, I really questioned if I had made the right decision in picking this program. Growing up white in America, I didn’t have a clue what it was like being a minority and here I was 1 of 8 white people in my class. I felt so out of the loop and before the class started the native students were only speaking in Chinese so I had to double check I was in the right place, which I was. Eventually though students started coming up to me, introducing themselves and asking how I was finding Shanghai. I became a little braver too and started introducing myself, realizing this isn’t so bad. The more people I met the more I realized how nice and genuine my fellow classmates are. By the second day my fears of picking the wrong program had dissipated and I already felt a special bond with my classmates, the people I will be spending the next two years with. Realizing that we’re all facing challenges in this program – the Chinese students studying completely in English and the native English speakers being thrown into a foreign country and a campus where everything is in Chinese – really brought us together. I help my Chinese friends with their English and my Chinese friends help me with any Chinese related questions – like, ummmmm, how am I supposed to know what I’m ordering in the school cafeteria when it’s all in Chinese. Yea, we got each other’s backs now. I’m really looking forward to the next two years with my classmates. The program is really challenging and getting me out of my comfort zone.

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The 2018 IMBA class. I’m in the middle.

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Welcome dinner.

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Opening ceremony for new students with my classmates.

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Guys I’m so Asian now.

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School cafeteria.

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The school lunches are subsidized by the Chinese government so they’re extremely cheap. This bowl of noodles cost 5 RMB – less than 1 USD.

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With my first course we were paired off into groups of 4 or 5 and I ended up with a group with these fantastic people. We worked closely together over the past two weeks to deliver a presentation to some VP’s of Herbalife China. From the left is Matt (British), Irene (native Shanghainese) and Maxime (French).

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My group giving our presentation to Herbalife and the rest of our class.

Before and after photo edits done by Irene with the professor of our first course.

Andrew’s Teaching

“Misssstaaaaaa Andreeeewwwww” is really enjoying his job as as PreK teacher. He has a very diverse class with 16 students from 11 nationalities. They’re getting ready to publish the first round of grades so he is extremely busy getting them down now, but has the first week of October off to relax after.

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Mr. Andrew’s classroom.

and, to end, I’ll share our latest purchase which gave our mother’s a little scare:

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We’ve named her Brooklyn. Yes, mothers, we bought helmets.

-Chelsea and Andrew

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3 thoughts on “I Think I’m Turning Shanghainese

  1. Loved reading your blog and seeing the photos. Your MBA program sounds wonderful and I’m sure you will make life long connections. The food looks amazing. Glad to hear that you found helmets for that scooter! Also nice to see the plants are still alive 🙂 Mr. Andrew has an organized, clean class room…who’s responsible for that???
    xoxox

    Like

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