3 months in China. A busy 老外 lǎowài’s life.

Three months to the day ago I arrived in Shanghai.  I just can’t get over the paradoxical feeling that I inevitably get every time I think back in that manner: Somehow its hard to remember the life you had before you came to a place, so it feels like you must have been there longer, than you really have. On the other hand, you’re surprised that it’s already been months – and you wonder how time could have flown by so quickly.

I’m finally at the end of a month of madness. Spent almost all my weekends in the library, and even though I refuse to pull all-nighters if there is any way to avoid them, I came pretty close a few times this month. Now, finally, I’ve handed in my last midterm essays, and more importantly, I’ve passed my thesis proposal defense (which turns out was quite an achievement, since sadly 70% failed…). So besides some presentations and smaller coursework related assignments, I am finally a free person again, at least until Christmas, when the Chinese exam period starts again. (Side note: No, Christmas is not a thing here. Some of my friends even have exams on Christmas Day). But for now I can’t even express how much I enjoy having time for naps, going to the gym and seeing friends – outside of the library 😀 – well, and also blogging…

After three months in Shanghai it’s both sad and slightly embarassing how few I have seen of my new home yet. Alright, it’s one of the biggest cities in the world (about 24 Million people live here – excluding the metro area), but still. It’s time to get out there more. I guess you know that you truly arrived at a new place, when you start to feel uncomfortable about always being the stupid 老外 lǎowài (Mandarin for foreigner, literally: old outsider; rarely meant to be rude, mostly neutral), that doesn’t understand anything. Due to my intensive workload in my double degree I really didn’t have the time so far to explore Shanghai and China as much as I would like to, and I am increasingly unsatisfied with my Mandarin skills. To be fair, it’s quite surprising with how few language skills you can get a grasp of what’s going on in conversations, and how your frustration tolerance increases with every time you try to sing whatever message you want to convey to a Chinese person in all the Mandarin tones you know – and a surprising number of own inventions. Well.

Now’s the time to enjoy Shanghai, China, friends – and to work on my Mandarin skills. My goal for December is to significantly decrease my use of 这个 zhègè (Mandarin for this) – picture me pointing at things on a menu or in a store and zhègèing my way through (“I want this, this, this and two of this”)… We’ll see how that goes 😉

 

 

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