Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Long overdue Wuzhen Trip: Mission

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Myth or Fact.

McDonalds = Cheap Fast Food

*Myth - Mai Dang Lao (McDonalds) - They are all over Shanghai! Today, I broke down and had my first was my friends Ben & Tomas who forced me...Tasted the same...was about $2 for a drink, fries, and a burger. Surprisingly, Mai Dang Lao, Ken De Ji (KFC) and Han Bao Wang (Burger King) are really fancy here. Fei Chang (very) Facy. Table cloths, Fuwuyuan (waiters), and the price is relatively expensive. "Classy Western Dining"...??

Air Pollution is noticeably everywhere

*Fact - On rainy days, there isn't much (or even a day after it rains). For the most part, there is air pollution but not as bad as Beijing. Everywhere you go, people are wearing face masks as a way to breathe in clean air. At first, this seemed odd. But now, most of us are having second thoughts...we should buy them to not only "look cool" and fit in but also to avoid eating chemicals and dust. (Don't worry mom and dad :)

Soy Sauce on Chinese Food

*Myth - Only occasionally you see Chinese people use soy sauce on their food. It's not as common as you would think! Most places have it for Westerners because that's what we're used to associating this kind of food with.

PDA is the same as Americans

*Myth - Just recently is it socially acceptable for a couple to hold hands in public. You don't see it too much. Most Chinese think it's inappropriate still to hold hands in public places...interesting...

Tea is Everywhere

*Fact - With every meal, you will find cha (tea). Coffee can be found but its more expensive. Most Chinese people drink cha in the morning, afternoon, and night. Green tea especially. Good thing I like tea (Wo ai lu cha). What's this next to me? It's Wo Li Hua Cha (Jasmine Tea!). mmmmm.

Other thoughts...

*After shopping at Wo er ma (Walmart) which is 3 floors of overwhelming Chinese food/goods, I took a taxi back all by myself for the first time. I figured its been about three weeks and I know enough Chinese to tell the driver where I need to go. After saying, "Wo yao qu Wudong lu he Wuchuan lu" (I want to go to Wudong Rd and Wuchuan Rd), the driver proceeded to ask me many questions in Chinese. I had a hard time understanding him but eventually, I could make out some key words. So we ended up talking the whole way back about me being American and from Michigan, him being Chinese, me studying at Fudan Univeristy and being 1/2 Chinese. We both kept laughing when he would respond and I would look at him clueless. By the end, we became pengyous (friends) and I was very happy that I did that whole experience solo. Just building my confidence...Totally worth 12RMB = $1.75.

*I don't know how people here survive without Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and blogger. These sites and more are blocked (and now, probably google). Because I'm paying for a VPN, I can get access to these. This has been a big topic...the freedom of knowledge. The government does a good job at censoring their citizens from the "real" facts at times...some topics I've shared with some Chinese friends (like the Rwandan Genocide) is off their radar because their government doesn't allow them to fully understand what "corruption" is. Hmmm...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend Adventures Pudong/Bund/Yu Yuan/Larsons.


The Bund

Yu Yuan (Shopping. Has Everything and Anything you can imagine).

Tea Tasting (Christy, Annalise, Me, Dale, Lori)

Having too much fun at the Larson's Apt. Many confused people.

...just a latte run...

...turns into buying the complete 1-7 seasons of 24 and seasons 1-8 of Friends and "The Time Travelers Wife"...Only In China.

That is all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Do you know the PLA? We're having lunch with them."

That's right. On Friday (yesterday), I got a phone call while walking out of my chinese class from my boss to meet her for lunch right away. Fortunately, I didn't have any plans. I met her by her new 2010 BMW that she drives (scary that she doesn't have a driver!! Most people here do). She also invited a Fudan Graduate student which both my boss and this girl are getting their masters degree in psychology. My boss is also a professor at Fudan in the art school.

So we were off, heading down the scary roads of Shanghai. My boss said, "Do you know the PLA? Peopla's Liberation Ary? Yes, we're having lunch with them. I reserved a private room that's hard to get in a hotel. We will have tea at the top floor where there's a garden and then eat lunch."

I must admit, I was a little intimidated by not only having lunch with my boss and these officers (who I've come to the conclusion is actually superwoman and literally is Ms. Entrepreneur of Shanghai), but also uncomfortable that they couldn't speak English and I couldn't really speak/understand Chinese. The Fudan girl was trying to translate for me what they were saying during the whole escapade. What a life saver!

When we arrived in the elaborate dining room, with a draping chandelier, a table as big as 4 dining room tables, and fine silk drapery over every window and wall, there was a little confusion of who was going to sit. There were 4 PLA members and 3 of us from Fudan. Even though I couldn't understand, I could see they were discussing who was going to sit in the chair across from the door (which means the most important person at a meal will sit there). Finally, one PLA member sat in that "special chair" and the meal began.

So in the middle of the large table - oh an the seat were all spaced out in an awkward way, leaving too much room between each person so it was difficult to converse?! - there was a lazy susan spinning electronically that held all the dishes on it. And boy were the dishes gourmet!!! The PLA members made me try a fish, a whole fish about 6 inches long, and had a guy put it on my plate. Yes, I was forced to eat the head/tail...everything!!! was pretty tasty actually because it was fried, but still not my 1st choice of food to eat...I also had a soup with turtle and a whole squid. I pretended to take a bit but then just put it back...thought that if I just at the broth, they wouldn't get too offended. (Grandpa! I ate birds nest soup!! Yum. And we put coconut and honey in it. I'm so glad I knew what that was thanks to you!)

Another odd thing about this dinner was the number of toasts! We all were served wine and the PLA guys kept getting up and making a toast to each person. My boss told me later that it's custom for the hosting party to make a toast to each person on the opposing party. And could these men drink their wine! It was 12:30pm and they were already loving life... :)

My head was spinning while I tried to pick up on words they were saying, putting my 7 days of Chinese class into good use. Surprisingly, I heard words I knew and tried to figure out their conversations!! Exciting...Yes, Chinese ask odd's just some that I was asked...

*(by my boss) "So Lindsay, do you workout or what? What do you do to keep fit?"
*(PLA officer) "Do you think the People's Liberation Army is fancy? Do you like the PLA?"

...and here's a statement they said about America...

*(PLA officer) "We think that Americans 16yrs old and younger are cute, but when they are older than 16 they aren't very good looking anymore."

Thank you?! SO ODD...not sure if they knew I was 21...haha.

The whole reason for the meeting with my boss was to discuss business possibilities. She wants to open a restaurant/bar and also a spa. That is why she is superwoman...she owns a large electrical engineering company, teaches at Fudan University, is getting her masters in psychology at Fudan, has written 2 bit-hit books, produced and screen wrote a movie, and is now opening new businesses. = Ms. Entrepreneur.

At the end of lunch, I practiced a bit of my chinese saying "it was nice to meet you" to the PLA officers...


To top if off, my boss Ms. Zhang Lu gave me a leather note book, a bottle of ice wine beer, 2 tickets to the Expo2010, and ticket to a lecture at the end of the month.

Not sure what my actual work is at this internship but I'm appreciative for the networking and cultural inside taste I'm getting of the business in China.

More to come! Annalise Larson from Hope College is coming to visit for the week!!! We're going out to dinner tonight with her parents who are Expats here in Shanghai who have so kindly taken me in and is my family away from home. Should be a fun night and exciting week to have a little bit of "Hope" here...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Group photos!

Monday, March 15, 2010


This is the perfect word to describe what I've experienced here in China interacting with the locals. For example...

1. Meeting up with other students

"Let's meet on Tuesday for lunch" - Chinese Fudan University friend
"Yes, good idea. Where & when?" - me
"Just call me on Tuesday" - Chinese Fudan University friend
"OK?" - me

*took over 30minutes to meet up with this friend who I just spoke to over the phone and didn't even know who I was looking for.

2. Internship interview last Tuesday

"When should I plan to come in next Tuesday?" - me
"Tuesday afternoon." - Lu Zhang (CEO & boss)
"Do you want to call me or me call you to verify what time?" - me
"I'll call you sometime before next Tuesday" - Lu Zhang
"Ok, I look forward to you call" - me

Today (Next Tuesday) ...still no phone call and don't know what time I have to come in. Tried to call her but she didn't answer. Texted her, but still no text back. Emailed her, but no response ?????

***Just received a call from my IES program coordinator (who I had track down Ms. Zhang Lu) that the company I'm working for is undergoing restructuring of their ownership. So the CEO is very busy the next two weeks so my internship is postponed until April 30th. I'll have to make up my hours somehow in between classes?? Case in point. This "vagueness" I'm experiencing here...or better words, lack of communication.


Yes, it will take some time to get used to. Yes, it's frustrating. Yes, I do need to understand this culture more...Three 1/2 more months here will probably help!

Two weeks down. Time flies when you're busy and having fun!

Below are some pictures to enjoy :)

Coming Soon! World Expo 2010!

Yummy Schezwan Food (Spicy!) Gizzard & Frog Legs.

Shanghai Night Life!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rice Solves Everything?

This Saturday, almost everyone in our group went to Wuzhen, China. This very touristy area (yes, everywhere we looked we saw Chinese groups with matching hats. Some plaid, others blue, some that said "Holiday") was extremely crowded but we did get a taste of the thousands of years of this historic city. We saw ancient stone bridges floating on mild water, its stone pathways between the mottled walls and its delicate wood carvings. We even took a boat ride along the river through the little houses!! All the Chinese people loved us "foreigners", hollering, videoing and taking pictures of us floating down the river. I'm not quite sure why they wanted to film us, definitely not celebrities, but it was still a fascinating part of the experience.

There would have been pictures to post but unfortunately, my camera fell in the toilet while I was there. YUCK. Yes, I sanitized it off and right now, its covered in rice....because, rice solves everything! Hopefully. That would be awful if my camera didn't work after this process of getting out the moisture.

Classes have started and wow is the Chinese classes intense! Three hours a day, four days a week of Chinese 101! Also, I'm taking Chinese Metropolis (we're going to Hong Kong later in April as a class for a week with this class), the Chinese Market, and and Internship Class for credit. Should be an enjoyable and of course, hardworking semester.

What better way to learn about China & Chinese when I'm living here being forced to communicate with their native language and surrounded by their culture. Trying not to take this opportunity for granted. :)

Much love.

Lin Xi

Pronounced: Lin She, my new Chinese name :)
Meaning: Lin means forest. Xi means sunset, twilight

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In Memory of Grandpa Allward.

Well, it hasn't been the easiest of times even though I'm in a new country and in a new living environment due to my Grandpa passing away last Saturday. It would be nice to be home with family and friends but you can't predict these things....and yes, life is short. I just want to say that I really do miss you Mom, Dad, and AG and all my family and friends!!! You don't know the blessings in your life until their gone (or far far away). RIP grandpa. we all love you.

But, I'm here in Shanghai and trying to appreciate everything that comes with it! Yes, the interactions and people are VERY different from the US. A lot of people are on "missions" and seem to be on the go all the time. This is partly due to the fact that I'm in a large city but you can really tell with the amount of traffic (cars, buses, bikes, people, etc...) The order of importance on the streets are:

1. Bus
2. Car/taxi
3. Motorcycle
4. Bike
5. Pedestrian

Today, my first day with my new bike we bargained for 170RMB ($25), a few of us took a little tour of the city...but really on a shopping trip to wo er ma (Walmart). We bought too many things and forgot we had we piled up our baskets on our bikes and took off down the crazy streets of China. Honestly, this was one of the scariest things to experience...biking with little to no control with bags hanging from the handle bars crossing major intersections. WE ALMOST GOT HIT BY A BUS. Probably missed it by a foot or so. So when the cross walk sign says "walk", cars are still allowed to take rights...which makes no sense b/c then they have the right away?!? ughhhh, frustrating. So, with that near death experience, we made it back to Tonghe Apartments. What a shopping adventure!

This weekend, most of us are going to Wuzhen China on Saturday!! Here's a picture of it...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

feels like home?

Food Critic.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Singapore Treasureway Group, Internship.

Ms. Lu Zhang is my new boss for my internship who interviewed me today. What an experience!

Here's a bit more of a description of the company...
Treasureway Group is a highly specialized engineering and system integration company.
The company is good at building intelligent system integration, building mechanical and
electrical system installation and building interior design and installation. The Shanghai Treasureway had completed more than 100 projects of various size and complexity in Shanghai, the surrounding regions and major cities in China.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Acrobat show = near heart attack.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Din Tai Fung

Yummy dumplings!

Crazy Adventures!

Thursday, March 4, 2010 fb or blogger.

So it has been a whirlwind for the past few days. I can't access facebook or blogspot from my computer (blocked) so its been hard to do any updates. sorry!!

But all is well and I'm starting to learn "survival chinese"!! For the past few days, three of us chinese 101 students were taught phrases just to order, greet people, and get around in taxis. We've already started practicing. It's very very hard, but exciting when people actually understand!

Another cool thing - met up with Annalise Larson (freshman from Hope) mom today and she showed me her apt. down town Shanghai and then took me out to a well known dumpling restaurant called DIN TAI FUNG. mmmm i miss it already! Thank you Christy.

Her driver Jack, who speaks broken english, took me around after to see the Pudong side of Shanghai (the most famous buildings at the bottom of my blog). He is awesome and patient trying to help/correct me with my Mandarin. Also, mom and dad, I was saying some Cantonese to Jack and he started counting!!! Thats all he knew....I was trying to explain to him what the word Dialect meant but was having some complications...oh well. Next time I see him i'll know more Chinese :)

Well...thats it so far...on the go every second. I'll update pics and videos soon!!

Love and miss you all!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Made it.

My first full day in China was really busy, full of orientation stuff. There are 18 students in the IES program and supposedly we'll be like a family by the end of our trip since we're so small. All of us are VERY adventurous and are already planning our weekend excursions (like rock climbing, overnight trains, beijing trip, etc...).

We saw a Walmart, McDonalds and KFC today so we're right at home. Yes, I am experiencing culture shock since everything is in Chinese (go figure) and I feel like I'm in a dream with everyone speaking in circles around me.

The food is SO GOOD. Much better than American food and American Chinese. For dinner, 5 of us went to a local restaurant and shared 6 large plates of food. It ended up being $2.50/person. Don't think you'd see that in America with food like that?!

More to come...still can't get on facebook or blogger on my computer which is a bummer.

Love to all!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Touch down Seoul Korea!

What a crazy 13 hour flight to Korea. VERY JETLAG. I just found a free wireless lounge in Korea (the US should really consider having these instead of charging!).

A little chaotic finding my gate in the Seoul airport, running all over the place and talking to a ton of security, but I finally found it. Whew!

Sat next to a guy who is in the Reserves on my long flight and also met newlyweds from Toronto!

30min till my next flight to Shanghai!

*Running on 5 hours total sleep since Sat Feb 27th and now its March 1 ! ahhhh.

Safe&Sound. <3lots of love.

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