Minhang Weeks 15 & 16

Week 15

After just about one week of working on my report (so, halfway through the time I was supposed to have), I was called in for another meeting with my professor.  At this point, I’d basically done a whole bunch of research on ground source heat pumps, but had barely started looking for models to include…so, I had the basics but nothing special for the report.  I spent the rest of the week looking for more sources and finding myself incredibly overwhelmed by what I found because 1. I’m not a plant specialist…like, I haven’t thought about any sort of technical plant stuff since biology in freshman year of high school and 2. I haven’t taken heat and mass transfer yet…which is what this whole research project is about.  So I’ve found myself having to learn as I go about some high-level plant science and heat and mass transfer concepts.  And then write about it all.

This week was also the most difficult teaching experience I’ve had so far.  Basically, the night before class, I got a message from the teacher at the weekend school saying that she was sick and another teacher would be replacing her, which I said I was comfortable with.  A few minutes later, I found out that the replacement teacher was my classmate Matt…another engineering student, and not an actual professional teacher.  When we found out that we would be working with each other, we were both a little nervous, but ended up agreeing so that they didn’t have to cancel the class.  The lesson went alright, all things considered, but it was definitely an experience I’d rather not repeat.  First, we weren’t given a lot of new words to teach.  We were told to review their old words (which went great) and two sentences (which did not work at all).  We had to use games that the students had already played, so a lot of them didn’t want to pay attention and ended up being way more rowdy than usual.

Week 16

This week started with more work on my research paper.  On Tuesday night, I met with my friend Binny to help her with her final project for a film and media class.  She’s creating a documentary on dance, and it’s based around me and Kanae (one of the upperclassmen in 525).  I kinda hate being on film, so I was pretty nervous, but I had a lot of fun talking about dance with her.  We talked about my history in dance, my dance “process”, my attitudes and feelings about dance, and some of my favorite pieces.  Kanae ended up being a bit late for her interview, so I stayed after my interview to keep her company and chill for a while.  As the week drew to a close, I was still working on my paper, waiting to hear from my professor, and planning a trip to Hong Kong with the other girl in my building.  By Friday, I had finished the research and made pretty good progress on writing the paper, so I gave myself a day in the city on Saturday.

So Saturday I took a much needed break…since I’m working on a paper instead of in the lab, I’m spending a lot of time alone in my room.  Which leads to bouts of intense productivity broken by periods of just zero motivation.  So for a change of scenery, I planned a little day out in the neighborhood around the Shaanxi Road metro exit of Line 1.  My first stop was a little kitschy little store inside a huge luxury mall, which was a little odd but still a pretty rad stop.  Next, I headed a few blocks out to a cafe I had seen highlighted on one of my favorite Shanghai/expat-in-Shanghai websites.  On the way, I had the strangest encounter with a monk of some sort.  I didn’t realize until I was passing by him that he was trying to give out little cards.  I tried to keep walking, but he basically dropped one on the papers I was carrying.  I stopped to give him a small donation, which he responded to by giving me a little buddhist prayer bracelet.  As I tried to walk away again, he tried to stop me again for a larger donation.  At this point, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable with the whole situation and I was noticing that at least one person was stopped on the sidewalk nearby watching, so I got away and sort of speed-walked down the road.  Still a bit weirded out, I found the cafe – after entering through what looked like a funky furniture store, the cafe was outdoors in a little hidden garden which probably looks even more gorgeous when all the flowers are blooming.  I ordered a lemon tea and a hazelnut cake (as recommended) before heading back out to wander around a little more.  My last planned stop was a little flower shop, well known for it’s gorgeous faux flowers…so I bought a faux rose to fuel my rose addiction.

I didn’t have to teach on Sunday (Monday was a day off for the Dragon Boat Festival – a national holiday), but it still ended up being really hectic.  It turned out that I had a lot to do to finish my report draft, and it had to be e-mailed to my professor in the evening.  Turns out, when your report has over 30 different equations, formatting can be a bit tricky and time consuming.  Plus, I realized that I had lost one of my minor “fluff” sources, so I spent a good deal of time checking my browser history for it before deciding to just go back into my paper and pull all the little facts that came from it.  I did finish though.  The draft made it to my professor, and I could relax on Monday (even though I couldn’t go out to celebrate the day off).

Until Next Time,

Sara

Again, I don’t have many pictures from this week.  I’ve got a couple blog-y food pictures from the cafe, but that’s literally it.

DSCF2477Fantastic hazelnut cake from the Rose Garden Cafe

DSCF2480

A giant mug of some delicious tea

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Minhang Weeks 13&14

Week 13

After getting back from my week away, it was time to get back to work.  I tried to get in contact with my research professor right away, but he wasn’t available at the start of the week.  Instead, I spent Tuesday (5/26/15) looking for the final touches to my costumes, in the way of shoes.  Pro tip:  if you find yourself in need of new sneakers in Minhang, skip the fake markets and head to the Auchan supermarket/mall.  Auchan is basically a hybrid of a Walmart and a full grocery store…it’s fantastic.  Wednesday was my last rehearsal with 525.  We went through the show several times and it was all amazing.  Seriously, these are some of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with.  I have a very stage-dance background, but they’ve totally converted me to street!  The only downside was that the last costume piece that came in was way too small on literally everyone, so most of us have to scramble a bit to find a replacement.  Thankfully, it’s a simple black t-shirt…which I unfortunately did not bring to China.  This meant that on Thursday, before the show, I was heading back to Xuhui for my actual last costume pieces.  I got really lucky and found a perfect shirt at the Xuhui H&M store, and the best powder foundation I have ever used at Sephora.  I made it back to campus in plenty of time, got dressed into my first costume, and headed to the designated building.

Once I got to the theater, my first task was to help make some balloon-on-a-stick things from our show’s sponsor to give out to the audience.  We got in a few last practices before the audience came, and then I got SUPER NERVOUS.  I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous for a show.  I’m also pretty certain that everyone could tell, but even the classmates that don’t speak any English were super supportive and sweet as we were waiting for the show to start.  A lot of “加油”‘s and “Fighting!”‘s were exchanged.  I was in the opening act – a reprise of the “I Really Like You” promo video dance, then my first jazz piece was the first dance of the show.  My other piece was a couple songs later, so I had to do a semi-quick change into my other costume before getting back on stage.  After that, I got to watch the rest of the show from the side of the stage.  There were a few groups from other schools that came to perform with us, along with the jazz and hiphop classes from SJTU.  Looking back, I’m so glad that I joined 525 – it was hard work a lot of the time, but it was so worth it!  If you’re interested, my two pieces can be found here La La Latch and here Kpop Dances, though you should definitely look at the rest of the 525 videos!  Friday was basically a recovery day, Saturday I finally heard from my research professor, and Sunday was one of my first GRE prep days…because I know how to have fun.

Week 14

This week, I was finally able to start my research!  My project is part of an ongoing project related to ground source heat pumps/geothermal energy sources.  My first assignment was to investigate existing energy balance models for plant systems, as someone else on the project would be determining a new model to propose.  This meant a lot of individual work and writing, and zero time spent in the lab which was pretty disappointing to be honest.  The other big struggle of the week was collecting everyone’s SJTU jackets from the South Korean Student Association.  Earlier in the semester about 12 of us ordered these really awesome school jackets, which were supposed to arrive at the end of April (in plenty of time for the ETA group to get theirs before going home).  Unfortunately, shipping delays meant that the ETA group left while the jackets were still in transit.  I got in touch with someone from the organization to work it out, and between many WeChat conversations, and the world’s most awkward phone exchange (in which I was in a face-to-face meeting with someone who despite having limited English was sent to meet me…so he called his friend to mediate the discussion via us passing the phone back and forth), I ended up with everyone’s jackets!  Rohit helped me get them all back to the dorm, but figuring out how to get them back to the states ended up being another major problem.  This week finished off with another teaching session at the little English weekend school, and the usual communication issues that accompany my visits there.

It was really weird having to get back into the swing of things on campus with virtually everyone from my group gone.  At this point, it was me, Matt, Rohit, and Josh left.  I was also now the only girl on my side of the building.  It was definitely an adjustment…and it was weird not hearing all that English anymore!

Until Next Time!

Sara

The pictures that I have for these weeks are all on my phone, and I can’t at three of the ones that I want to post, so I’ll have to come back to those.  In the meantime, have this one of my favorite GRE study spot:

IMG_20150531_182034[1]

Minhang Weeks 11& 12 (Final Finals and Family)

Week 11

On Sunday (5/10/15) I went back to the weekend school to teach with Cameron for his last class.  The class went pretty smoothly – we taught some vegetable names, played some games, and sang some songs.  After class, though, Cameron and I were invited to the house of the headmistress, along with some other teachers, for lunch.  When we arrived at the apartment in a nearby complex, the little kitchen was super busy and full of ridiculous amounts of food.  It was a pretty crazy afternoon (and a pretty long story), which involved lots of good food, good conversation (in which I was pretty much able to hold my own with the Chinese :D), and tons of pictures being taken.  We ended up staying pretty late, and I was really exhausted when I got home…so Monday was spent doing all of the studying for my last final.

Tuesday was my last final in China, followed by lots and lots of trying to forget it happened.  Annie and I spent the afternoon looking for t-shirts/sweatshirts from the school gift shops, and then the evening doing battle with giant bugs in our room.  On Wednesday, a small group of us headed to Xinzhuang, to a movie theater in one of the malls.  We had dinner at this cute cafe before heading up to the theater to see the new Avengers movie!  The movie theater experience here was pretty different from going to the movies in the states – everyone has an assigned seat for starters, and our group ended up getting split up because we couldn’t get seats together.  Next, the theater food is pretty different.  There aren’t cases full of overpriced candy – there’s more savory foods…but the popcorn is sweet.  The movie was in English with Chinese subtitles, and I had a lot of fun trying to see if I could keep up reading the Chinese while I watched.

On Thursday, my mom came!  I made the 3 hour metro journey to the airport, arriving minutes before the plane should have landed.  There ended up being a few delays, but I didn’t end up having to wait for very long.  We headed right to her hotel, the PuLi in the Jing’an district.  I ended up having to turn around pretty much immediately to get to a dance rehearsal and I didn’t get back until midnight-ish, after dropping Annie off at the ETA group’s last hurrah party.

On Friday, I brought my mom to my favorite Muslim noodle place in Xuhui and we looked around the campus for a little bit before heading to the Van Gogh Alive! exhibit in Xintiandi.  After a tiny detour trying to find the front of the exhibit, we finally got inside.  The whole thing was housed in this massive series of tents, including several rooms.  After a small introduction with a little bio of Van Gogh, the main exhibit was a huge multi-media show (for lack of a better word).  Dozens of screens of various sizes were spread around the space, with the majority of the crowd sitting in the center to watch.  Music and sound effects accompanied a chronological series of animated paintings and historical reference pictures.  We ended up getting to this room 2/3 of the way through the show, so we stuck around to watch again from the beginning.  After leaving, we tried to find a chocolate shop that was supposed to be nearby.  We ended up in SoHo Xintiandi (actually rather close to the intended destination), but we found a zoo-themed cafe specializing in waffles first, so we went there instead 😀

Week 12

On Saturday (5/16/15) we headed back to Minhang via taxi to meet up with the ETA and Maymester groups for lunch.  A lot more people came than I expected, and we were spread out around a restaurant near one of the dining halls.  The lunch went on pretty long, and then we went to the park by the Mech. E. buildings for some pictures before the Maymester group headed out.  After that, just about everyone went into a packing frenzy.  People were throwing things out, and trying to get rid of the household things that they wouldn’t be bringing back to the states.  Mom and I ended up sticking around for while so I could pack my winter things to send back with her…which admittedly took longer than I expected.

On Sunday, as the ETA group was heading back to the US, Mom and I boarded the gaotie (high-speed train) to Beijing. After about 5 hours on the train and a twenty minute taxi, we got to our incredibly fancy hotel just minutes from the most famous shopping street in the city. Seriously, the hotel was crazy. It looked like a European-style castle and I’m pretty sure that nothing I brought with me fit the unofficial dress code for the place.

Monday was the start of our tour of Beijing. We had a private tour guide/driver for the two of us, so the trip was pretty personal and didn’t feel much like a commercial tour. We started with the Temple of Heaven, walking through the parks to see the locals before heading to the sites the tourists go see. After a quick lunch at a local University-student-favorite, we went to see the Summer Palace. While the scenery was really beautiful, our walk through was pretty rushed. I think our tour guide was pretty uninterested in the place (not that I blame her…I can’t even imagine how many times she’s had to go see it). Our final stop of the night was Olympic Park to see the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

On Tuesday, we went to MuTianYu, one of the less populated, but still maintained and repaired, sections of the Great Wall. We took a cable car up to the Wall, and then chose to go the slightly more difficult direction. At the end of the repaired segment, I went a little bit further to see what it was like. The wall was still pretty stable, but there were parts with chunks missing or plants growing over the path. While I wasn’t the only person to go out there, there weren’t many people and most went on a little further than I did, so I was basically alone out there. After a quick lunch at a local restaurant, we headed back into the city to see a new art-centered area of town.   We stopped at several small galleries, including a new abstract calligraphy one that I really liked. Our last official stop was a contemporary art museum with a special exhibit celebrating the Miss Dior fragrance, with several commissioned pieces. In the evening, we went to see the Beijing Martial Arts performance. It was equivalent, I guess to the ERA Acrobatics Show in Shanghai except more cheesy and tourist-y. It was very over-the-top and generally too much…if you are in the area, I’d recommend spending your time and money elsewhere.

Wednesday was the last day of our tour, and we went to see Tian’an Men and the Forbidden City as our first stop. After that, we took a Rickshaw ride to one of the few remaining traditional-style courtyard houses. The last stop on the tour was the LaMa temple, the only Tiebetan-style Buddhist temple in Mainland China. This was probably my favorite stop on in Beijing, but we didn’t end up staying very long. After our tour guide dropped us back off at our hotel, we headed out to WangFuJing one last time. We wandered through the food street first, headed in to one of the large malls for a bit of air conditioning, and then went back out to the night food stalls (which were a bit more on the conventional side). After dinner, we went back to the Olympic Park to see the venues lit up for the evening and then headed back to the hotel for the last time.

On Thursday, we packed up and took the train back to Shanghai. This time, we were staying at Hotel Indigo, right on the Bund. I ended up taking the metro back to campus for dance, where a film student was going to film me and a couple of my classmates in rehearsal for her final project.  Friday, we went to the Yu Gardens, including a stop at the famous soup dumpling stall. We found a place down the Bund to sit for a while, and then I had to head back to Xuhui for costume shopping for dance. By the time I got back to the hotel, it was pretty late. On Saturday, I met with Joe from the GEARE program for lunch near the Xuhui campus while my mom looked around the neighborhood on her own. After that, we went down to East Nanjing Road to do a little shopping. We gave up at People’s Square and headed back to our hotel. In the evening, we went to the ERA show. Even seeing it for a second time, I liked it a lot better than the show in Beijing…even if the man next to me kept trying to point things out to me during the show…

On Sunday, Mom’s last full day in China, we went to the fabric market to look at tailors for QiPao. The one that was recommended to me turned out not to make or sell QiPao anymore. From the hotel, we were recommended a tailor in a different part of the city…which should have been the first clue that it wasn’t what we were looking for – most of the casual tailors work in the fabric markets. We took a taxi to the address we were given and ended up in a housing block. We found the apartment for the tailor, and went to their room…which looked like it was just a room in their house. When we got there, there was already a woman and her daughter getting a fitting. Since I didn’t really know how this tailor worked, the daughter stepped in and acted as an unofficial translator for me. After about 5 exceedingly uncomfortable minutes of trying to figure out what was going on, I determined that this tailor was on the way-fancy end of the spectrum and this was way too much for me to deal with. We ended up leaving and heading to Lujiazui and the Shanghai World Financial Center (the Bottle Opener building). We wanted to be at the top during sunset, so we messed around in the nearby malls for a while before going up. We ended the evening at the hotel’s rooftop bar, watching the lights across the river.

On Monday, I brought mom to the airport and watched as she got through the first security gate for her flight back the Newark. After that, I headed back to Minhang for another dance-rehearsal-filled evening. It’s been really weird being back in the dorms since the ETA group moved out. There are still people in the building, but it’s definitely gotten quieter, at least on my side.

Until Next Time!

Sara

The pictures!

DSCF2095From Van Gogh Alive!

DSCF2109Sunflowers from Van Gogh Alive!

DSCF2114The set-up at Van Gogh Alive!

DSCF2122

Delicious waffles

DSCF2134Trying to take a group picture…

DSCF2142At the Temple of Heaven

DSCF2167At the Summer Palace

DSCF2199On the Great Wall

MAY DAY (Minhang, Weeks 9 and 10)

Week 9

Saturday (4/25) was definitely a relaxing day.  I didn’t really do anything worth noting, which was a nice change of pace.  Sunday (4/26) was probably the most fun I’ve had so far at Minhang.  This was the day that we were meeting to film the promo for dance.  I arrived at the location (a soccer field/track near dining hall 2) pretty early, and it took a while for everyone to arrive.  Most of 525 came, including a lot of people that I don’t know (the break dancing/popping/locking groups meet on a different day).  First, we filmed the chorus choreo – the bit that everyone learned in rehearsal the previous week.  We took a lot of takes of this part, and then the break dance boys had a little cipher.  After that, we moved on to the complicated bit.  The big group split into the little sub groups and spread out along a path starting in the grocery store, crossing the street, and heading into the field.  Each little group had a small piece of choreography, and Megan (one of the upperclassmen), would jump from group to group…but it had to be done in one take.  Between cars driving through the shot and other students walking in front of the camera, we had to do this shot many many times.  But the video came out amazing, and you can see it here: 525 Promo

Monday was our last MSE class, and an extra dance rehearsal.  After that, I started the 375 homework, but couldn’t finish it.  On Tuesday, I had to head to thermo early because I volunteered to review a lecture given by the other professor.  It went pretty well, and then I had some time to work on 375 before my actual thermo lecture started.  After class, Annie and I headed back to the dorm, grabbed our bags, and made the long trek out to the Shanghai Railway Station.  We were able to get tickets to Nanjing that day, and only had about two hours to wait in the train station!  The train ended up being a lot nicer than I expected.  It wasn’t the bullet train, but it also wasn’t the standard Chinese train either…somewhere in between.  It was nicely air conditioned, the seats were comfortable, and no one bought the ticket for the third seat in our row, so I slept most of the two hour ride.  Once in Nanjing, the metro was easy to navigate, and our hostel was only about five minutes from one of the metro stops.  In addition, our hostel was right next to this big pedestrian market that was sort of a mix between historical sites, the normal market that you see in every city, and some big/unique shops.  We shopped a little and then took a river tour on the canals (all lit by these gorgeous lanterns hanging from bridges and along the banks).  By the time we got off, the mall was closing down.  We headed back to the hostel to get a dinner recommendation from the front desk staff.  We ended up at a little hole-in-the-wall noodle shop about twenty minutes away…which I was a little skeptical about, but it ended up being amazing!  On the way back, we found the cutest little candy store…and may or may not have gone a little overboard.

On Wednesday, I finished up my homework and Annie and I headed out to explore.  Our first stop was the Presidential Palace.  The grounds of this place were massive – much bigger than I expected.  We ended up walking around for over two and a half hours, and we might have still missed some things.  The palace included gardens, lakes, all the old government buildings, and some photography exhibits out by the old stables.  We even got to see the old air raid shelter.  After we left the palace, we went to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial.  During WWII, the Japanese army invaded the city and killed 300000 citizens.  The memorial includes a remembrance exhibit at the mass grave site, a few partially-excavated pits on display, a candle room, and “peace square” with a reflecting pool, statue, and peace flowers from other countries.  The entrance walkway is lined with statues and quotes/lines of poetry from and about the people who escaped.  On Wednesday night, Annie caught a train out to Beijing, but I was staying one more night in Nanjing.  After dropping her off at the train station, I decided to take one last walk down the pedestrian mall before heading back to my room.

The hostel was stayed in was pretty nice, overall.  The door was hidden, so we actually missed it a few times when we first got in to Nanjing.  It was the last spot at the end of the block, right next to the river and set a little down from the sidewalk.  When you first walk in, the hallway is covered in postcards for sale.  This hallway ends at the front desk, and the lobby/living room area is to the left.  This space is filled with comfy couches, woven blankets, and bright pillows.  The walls are all painted over, and there are huge windows out onto the porch and river.  At the back of this room is another hallway.  At the end is a game room, and off to one side is the staircase to the guest rooms.  We were on the second floor, towards the front of the building.  Annie and I had beds in an eight person, dorm-style room, both in bottom bunks.  The room came with a pillow and blanket, one locker per person, and a bathroom.  It was a pretty comfortable room…but unfortunately there was a light right outside our window that was 1) very bright and 2) NEVER TURNED OFF.  Other than that, though, it was a great stay!

On Thursday, I checked out of the hostel, found brunch down by the metro station, and then headed out to the Purple Mountain park.  I tried to get off near my target site (the mountain was way too big to see in the time I had)…but I ended up about an hour’s hike away.  Thankfully, the path was well-marked, I saw a couple other people on my way, and while it was really hot, the path was mostly in the shade.  By the time I got to my intended site (Sun Yat-sen’s Memorial), however, I was sweating.  The memorial itself is several hundred stairs up to a small building for the memorial…so basically, I hiked for an hour to climb up a huge staircase.  It was really interesting to see, though, and I’m definitely glad I did it.  Not wanting to repeat the hike, though, I elected to pay the 10元 to take a golf cart ride back to the metro.  From there, I took the metro to the train station and got there in plenty of time.  After sleeping for most of the ride back to Shanghai, and then having a torturous metro ride back to Minhang, I had less than an hour to unpack and get myself to the stadium for dance rehearsals.

Friday was May Day, so no classes…so I caught up on my sleep by sleeping until the late afternoon.  I gave myself the rest of the day off, but then spent Saturday and Sunday studying.

Week 10 

Monday was my first final of the semester.  Before the exam, there was a last-chance question/review session, so I went to that, had lunch, and then got to the exam room.  The exam went pretty well, but once it was done, I had to get right to work on some thermo homework.  Tuesday and Wednesday were both spent working and studying, with my second exam of the semester on Thursday.  Once that exam was over, there was still one more (surprise) thermo homework to do.  Friday of this week was my last class in China!

I know it was a long time ago by now (over a month), but it’s still so surreal that I don’t have any more classes here.  I’m still living in the dorms, and still doing work, but I don’t have classes to go to, and won’t ever have classes here again.  It’s so weird to think that I have just over a month and a half left before I leave this campus!  I’ve definitely been getting nostalgic recently, and I know it’s only going to get worse as my departure date gets closer, but Shanghai has become much more of a home to me than I was expecting, and the thought of leaving makes me so sad.  (Thankfully I’m not leaving just yet)

Until next time!

Sara

The pictures:

DSCF1859Bridge lights from the Nanjing river cruise

DSCF1870Amazing noodles from the hole-in-the-wall shop

DSCF1873Had some glorious dumplings before the Presidential Palace

DSCF1887The tiniest guardian

DSCF1934New Nanjing in the background, from the Presidential Palace gardens

DSCF1950Thousands of paper cranes, donated by Japanese school children at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial

DSCF1959The base of the statue in the Peace Pavilion

DSCF1973The hostel entrance (Nanjing Confucius Temple International Youth Hostel)

DSCF1996Nanjing river lanterns

DSCF2006The hostel living room

DSCF2029Hike an hour to national landmark…national landmark is hundreds of stairs

DSCF2046Obligatory selfie

Minhang, Weeks 7 and 8

I’m so good at this blogging thing….

Week 7

I didn’t have plans for the weekend, so Saturday (4/11) and Sunday (4/12) were both spent doing homework and watching movies in the room with Annie.  On Monday, our new professor let us out of class early. I think she’s catching on that we cannot handle five hours of lecture…which we really can’t.  Tuesday and Wednesday were spent doing 375 homework…and procrastinating the 375 homework.  On Thursday, our Material Science class was meeting at a special lecture given by a visiting professor.  We learned a bit about welding, particularly the science of welding and how different types of welding work.

By Thursday night’s dance rehearsal, my knee was killing me.  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this here, but I had a couple really dumb accidents that led to some unfortunate knee issues.  Towards the end of our stay in Xuhui, I fell down the marble staircase and landed directly on my left knee.  I didn’t really know what to do about it at the time, so I left it alone and ended up with this weird swelling that didn’t quite go away.  After arriving in Minhang, when I went to dinner with my buddy, I tripped on a huge metal slab on the sidewalk, landing on that weird swollen part of my knee.  Since, again, it wasn’t on the joint and I could walk just fine, I figured I could let it go.  By the end of this week’s dance rehearsal, though, I was almost in tears because of my knee.  On Friday, I decided to go to the campus medical center.  A classmate had been earlier and said that the doctors spoke English, so I didn’t think I’d have any problems.  When I got there, however, none of the desk staff spoke English.  I stalled for a few minutes by inspecting the building directory while I worked up the courage to talk to the woman behind the desk.  It actually went pretty smoothly, and I understood where I had to go, so I headed back to the general medicine ward.  Unfortunately, the doctors there (at least at that time) didn’t speak English either!  I stumbled my way through the conversation, but the doctor seemed to understand what I was saying (big confidence boost right there).  She prescribed me some sort of medicine, and I was on my way.

Let’s just talk about this medicine for a second before we move on.  It’s called 雲南白葯 (Yunnan Baiyao) – it’s a traditional medicine (so traditional that the recipe is currently a government-protected secret) that comes in many different forms.  The one I got was a liquid with a little sponge at the opening of the bottle…and it smells like death.  It’s honestly the worst thing I’ve ever smelled (except maybe stinky tofu).  Also, it stains my skin.  So lots of fun.

Week 8

Okay, back on track.  The next day was Saturday (4/18) – aka International Record Store Day.  Annie and I headed out to the only record store participating in the city, which turned out to be quite close to the Xuhui campus.  We had to take the subway back to Xuhui because the campus bus was full, and the store was about a fifteen minute walk from there.  At first, we couldn’t find the event because it wasn’t actually at the store’s location.  The event was actually being held in this hidden bar at the end of a super sketchy alley.  There wasn’t much going on, so we didn’t stay long.  After that, we headed out to the Shanghai Railway station to try to get tickets for out May Day trip (more on that later).  We were actually there too far in advance (like…a week before is too far in advance to buy tickets…).  Again, we tried to grab the campus bus to get back to Minhang, but it was full.  Since we had to go through one of the big Globe-Intersection malls to get the Line 1 Metro, we decided to have a look around (something we hadn’t really done ever while in Xuhui).  We started with the Tiffany’s on the ground floor, because why not.  After that, we went all the way to the top to check out the movie theater and play some claw games.  Working our way down, we found a tiny foreign book store with the cutest collection of tiny classic novels.  This is going to sound pretty dumb, but I never realized that the Phantom of the Opera was a book…so of course I had to pick up a copy.  Our last stop was a quick walk through a ridiculously expensive imported tea store, and then we got on the metro home.

Sunday of this week was actually my first time teaching the English class since that first week.  We ended up teaching the words “seal”, “dolphin”, “shark”, and “octopus” to go along with a computer teaching program.  There were games and songs for the kids to play.  The kids are (for the most part) really well behaved and engaged in the class…most of the problems I’ve had have been with the school itself…but that’s a story for another day.

On Monday, we got out of MSE lecture early to do an “experiment” that entailed looking at samples in a microscope and drawing the crystal structures on a sheet of paper.  Just putting this out there…I am not an artist.  This lab was not fun.  On Tuesday, Annie headed to Xi’an, but I decided to stay on campus.  On Wednesday, I went to a culture day for international students.  We learned how to do a couple simple Chinese knots and some calligraphy.  At Thursday’s dance rehearsal, we learned a quick dance to “I Really Like You” by Carly Rae Jepson, which I thought was going to be the opening dance for the show, but it turns out it was for a promo video that we would be filming later.  After dance, I had a little under an hour to get home and cool off a bit before I skyped into a PFP interview for next semester’s leadership.  It was really awesome to see some non-family faces from the states!  That about caps off my adventures for Weeks 7 & 8 in Minhang!

Until next time!

Sara

This Week’s Pictures:

DSCF1827School of Mechanical Engineering – Building A

DSCF1835Guardian at the Minhang Campus Traditional Gate

Lyons-Sara-PhotoSunset off the common room balcony

Minhang, Weeks 5 and 6

Week 5

Saturday and Sunday (3/28 and 3/29) were spent hanging around campus, doing homework, and spending a LOT of time trying to figure out my schedule for next semester.  Just looking at the core classes I’m taking, the number of electives, and my responsibilities outside of class…next semester is going to pretty rough.  Anyway, after going half crazy comparing times and figuring out lab combinations, Sameer and I went to dinner with our SJTU campus buddies.  We went to an awesome restaurant just outside campus, had fantastic food, and talked for a long time.  Both of our buddies are coming to Purdue in the fall, so we’ll have the chance to return the favor.

Monday was primarily spent working on thermo homework after material science, and Tuesday was our second thermo exam.  On Tuesday, I discovered that the lifetime website video streaming works…and I may or may not have lost the rest of the afternoon to a nap and Project Runway instead of doing anything productive…Wednesday was also not the most productive, at least for the first half.  A large chunk of the ETA group headed out to the ME building area to a massive park on the lakefront.  There, we met up with a large group of the SJTU buddies for kite flying and a mini picnic.  I spent the most of the rest of Wednesday (and into Thursday, let’s be real) finishing up the work that needed to get done.  I spent Thursday napping off the all-nighter and then headed to dance.  We added a couple new pieces.  I assume they’re online somewhere but they weren’t songs I was familiar with, so I haven’t been able to find them.

On Friday, I headed back into downtown to look for new shoes.  I ended up at the fake market, where I haggled like a pro for a pair of (pretty decent)  knock-off Dr. Marten boots.  Annie had tried to go to Beijing, but ended up not being able to get a train ticket.  We met back up in the evening for a mini movie night in the room.

Week 6

Sunday (4/5/15) was Easter, so I left campus pretty early and headed into downtown.  I found a church doing services in English and decided to go sit in.  It was definitely not the type of church I’m used to, but everyone was really kind and welcoming.  After services,  I headed to a new area of the city that I hadn’t explored before to find a little cafe that supposedly had some of the best hot chocolate in the city…and I was not let down.  It was getting sort of late, so I headed back to Xuhui to walk around a bit in some more familiar settings, and then took the Metro back to Minhang.  We had Monday off (though right now, I can’t remember why…), and Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty uneventful/homework filled.

On Thursday, Annie, Matt, and I headed back into downtown to run an errand for Relay for Life at Purdue.  In part of the event this year, they wanted Boilers abroad to send in pictures of themselves holding signs saying “Hope Lives in ________”.  The three of us went to a couple different locations to try to get a variety of “China” pictures.  Our first stop was The Bund, where I got my picture taken.  Back in the fall, students who had just returned would tell stories of how often they had their pictures taken while in China, and it always seemed a bit exaggerated…but standing on The Bund, I say several other people with cameras and phones pointed directly at me while Annie was taking my picture.

After The Bund, we headed to a clothing-specific fake market nearby, on the hunt for ridiculous hats.  Annie and I both got galaxy-print snapbacks with golden triangles that say “hater”.  It isn’t really a trip to a fake market unless you see something with oddly-used English words or phrases on it.  Matt wanted to stay in the area, but I had to be back on campus for dance, so we split up.  Annie and I headed back to Xuhui, to get her Relay picture in front of the giant glass globe of advertisements at one of the Xuhui malls.  I made it back in time for rehearsal, so everything worked out fine.  Thermo, and an otherwise relaxing Friday, caps off this post.

Until next time,

Sara

Pictures:

DSCF1814Amazing hot chocolate…I regret nothing

IMG_3564“Hope Lives in Shanghai”, for Purdue Relay for Life

IMG_20150409_225937The most ridiculous hat I’ve ever owned

Minhang, Weeks 3 and 4

I just got back from an amazing trip, so I’m going to try to speed through my catch-up posts so I can tell you all about that!

Week 3

Saturday (3/14/15 aka the most epic pi day of my life), I headed back into downtown Shanghai for the first time since the move to the new campus.  I headed to the metro and rode for over an hour to East Nanjing Road and began walking a couple blocks towards the Bund (still one of the most breathtaking skylines I’ve ever seen).  I turned off of the main road and down a couple side streets in search of a tiny art gallery.  Once I got to the road, it almost missed it.  What I didn’t know was that the gallery was located in an abandoned building, so there wasn’t a whole lot of signage.  I eventually found it and headed through a partially-under-reconstruction lobby, up an unlit staircase, and found myself at the entrance to a very hip looking gallery.  The day I went was the second-to-last day of an exhibition called “I can’t be part of your revolution”.  The collection was pretty small, but very powerful.  The main theme was comparing the struggles in a capitalist-centered life to the process of climbing Mt.Everest.  There were a couple small mixed-media pieces, a repurposed barber-pole style light, and the two main attractions.  The first of these large pieces was close-up shots of the exhibit slogans tattooed on ribcages and arms.  The second was a pile of old tv screens alternating between camping advertisement snippets, short sayings in Chinese and English, and a little animated hiking pick.  The collection was interesting, but very small.  I would have liked to see more pieces, or to have been there on opening night when there was a performance art element by the artist and some other people.

Sunday was spent catching up the work I hadn’t done on Saturday, and Monday was a lot of homework as well.  In addition to the work, though, I worked in some time to go to the dance studio to continue developing my audition piece for the dance team.  I left the studio with a lot of work still left to do, with not a lot of time to do it, but I was confident it would work out.

Tuesday was thermo lecture, and then I met my research professor for the first time.  It turned out that he was still in the process of preparing the project for the summer, so I didn’t learn a whole lot about my situation…which has been making me a little anxious, to be honest.  At the end of the previous week, my mom talked about sending me a package with a couple things from home, and when I got back to my dorm, I found an e-mail waiting for me from the shipping company.  At first I was excited, but it turned out to be a 15-page customs document that was completely overwhelming.  I tried e-mailing the help office, but that didn’t get me anywhere.  I didn’t have a lot of time to get very far, because I had planned to go practice my dance piece with a classmate that was also joining.  We didn’t have a studio to practice in, so we found a classroom building lobby with large windows and an open floor and got to work.  I got most of my piece finished, and then it was time to head back for the evening.  A group of us were heading into the city to find an authentic Irish pub to celebrate St.Patrick’s Day.  We split into groups and took taxis to the venue, called the Tipsy Fiddler, and got settled in a bit on the early side.  After a little while, a traditional Irish band started a performance, and I was excited to find that I knew a lot of the music.  I was singing, clapping, and dancing along to the songs and one of the grumpy-looking gentleman in the band was having a good giggle at the group of us…but only when we weren’t looking, of course.

Wednesday was spent dodging homework by playing tennis with some classmates and then heading to the studio to finish up my solo piece for dance.  On Thursday, I took it easy in the afternoon and then headed out to dance for my audition.  I arrived at the studio when our time slot opened, about an hour before I’d have to present.  I polished the piece, and was really confident…until about five minutes before I was set to go on.  The rest of the team arrived, and sat in a huge circle in the middle of the studio.  I introduced myself and the music started…and apparently the team had used the song I picked recently, because everyone started cheering, which did not make me any less nervous.  I definitely messed up a little bit, but the team was very supportive, clapping and cheering through the piece.  After the new students all finished, the returning members performed what they’d been working on.  Everyone on the team is incredibly talented, which made me a bit embarrassed about my piece, but I’m excited to be joining the group!

On Friday, I finally got the customs formed sort out, with only minimal crying!  I decided that was enough work for the day and didn’t do much else.  My friend’s birthday was over the weekend, and after a fairly unproductive Saturday, I had to buckle down to work on Sunday.

Week 4

Monday (3/23/15) was my first exam for Material Science, and I felt pretty good after I finished.  Unfortunately, we had to stick around for another few lectures to finish out our weekly Mat.Sci. block.  I stayed up late to work on the thermo homework, so Tuesday was pretty unproductive as I recovered from that.

Wednesday of this week was a pretty good day…my package was successfully delivered, I got some laundry done, and I finished the last fiction book that I brought with me from the States, Mr.Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (a fantastic read, 10/10 would recommend).  On Thursday, I went to my first practice as a member of the dance team.  We started with a really intense, hour-long warm up and then split into two groups:  Jazz and Hiphop.  I joined the jazz group, which is still much more hiphop-y than the jazz dance that I used to do.  We started with a piece set to a Pentatonix remix (which I later found out is this piece, with only slight modifications at the end: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICnoCVfuPTQ).  Around 2:30AM, we gathered in Brendan’s room to skype into the ME 290 class to answer questions about the trip.  It was really fun, and nice to see faces from back home, but it ended really late and only left us a couple hours to sleep before thermo class.  An uneventful Friday caps the two weeks for this post!

Until next time,

Sara

Pictures:  I didn’t take any new pictures of campus, but I got some shots at the art exhibit

IMG_20150314_164649[1]

A small corner of the second-largest piece at “I can’t be part of your revolution”

IMG_20150314_165634[1]“How to live your adventure”

IMG_20150314_165915[1]The TV installation

IMG_20150314_171107[1]

Selfies in the very creepy stairwell

IMG_20150314_171207[1]

Tiny exhibit sign…the only sign for the gallery on the block

IMG_20150317_200802[1]Grainy cell-phone picture of the St.Patrick’s Day performance at the Tipsy Fiddler