And how are things in Shanghai?

A few weeks ago I embarked on the biggest adventure of my life, a semester abroad in one of the world’s biggest cities, Shanghai. First of all, I travelled with a good friend through China for three weeks, to get acquainted with this intriguing country. Most Chinese don’t really speak English, but with the help of good hostels and a travel guide it was pretty easy to travel around . Most people are very friendly and helpful, although the spitting on the streets, which is mainly done by men, is not so pleasant.

In September I started studying at Tongji University. The campus here is a really nice place to be. It has a lot of greenery and good places to sit, and the many students (and cats!) who live here create a sociable and lively environment. My (shared) room is also on the campus, which saved me the time and stress of looking for a room in the city, and it is very cheap! The Chinese food here is quite good in general, but I would rather give the pig’s noses and the chicken claws a miss.

As well as courses on Chinese architecture and urbanism, I am also doing a design project in which we are collaborating with a very special shopping mall, K11 Art Mall. This is the world's first art-oriented shopping mall. We are focusing on the experience offered by various spaces in the mall, and our assignment is to design an installation as a spatial intervention. I have also started a Chinese language course. In an attempt to learn the many different tones, the entire class sat and made babylike sounds like ‘bababa’ and ‘gegege’. It was very amusing.

Exploring the city is also something I really enjoy. It is lovely to walk or cycle through the many crowded streets. I wouldn't necessarily do this in Eindhoven; there are so many interesting things to see here. The nightlife is a little different too. There are a lot of fancy clubs that regularly hold parties with free entrance and alcohol. One club even has sharks.

Next week is the Golden Week public holiday in China, which for a lot of Chinese people means vacation, and so hordes of visitors at every Chinese tourist attraction. Although traveling is not recommended, I'm going to give it a try. I'm heading off to see peculiar rock structures and world’s longest glass bridge in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park!

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