02 Feb My First Week in China
Everything is so cheap here – you could get by on 20 Kuai a day easily. The subway is only a few Kuai and it takes you wherever you need to go. The only thing I’m missing here is good coffee. They have Starbucks here but it’s very expensive. In fact, they have so many Starbucks here that in the past week I have literally seen an entire Starbucks being built from start to finish as I have walked along the same route to my work in the morning. I did try to walk another route to work one day but I got very lost. I have found that the best thing to do when you’re lost in Shanghai is walk around in circles and look lost for a bit and someone will come up to you and ask you in English if you are okay and then give you directions. Trust me, it’s worked on several occasions.Although I love the interesting research, legal, and communications work I do at the law firm, one of my favourite parts of the week has been lunch-time at work. Everyday my supervisor (who is Chinese but speaks very good English) takes myself and some of his work friends at the law firm down to the street to a local restaurant. Every day it’s a different one, and every day I meet a new person from the firm. My supervisor has been very good to me while I have been here. Not only has he taught me a lot about international law, he has also taught me a lot about Chinese culture. One night he asked me and a few of his colleagues to his family dinner at a restaurant downtown. I felt honoured to be invited. It was a beautiful restaurant with chandeliers and high ceilings and they served traditional Shanghai food. We shared many different cold and hot dishes. We ate everything from crunchy shrimps and fresh salmon on ice to strange fruits and spicy soups, finishing with some noodles for dessert. I learned a lot that night about Chinese culture. I learned a few words in a Chinese dialect I can’t remember the name of, I learned that you have to drink the whole glass when someone more important than you drinks the whole glass after saying cheers, and I learned that you have to say cheers or “gan bei” to the people next to you (or even better stand up) every time you want to take a sip of your drink. I also learned that when someone in China calls someone their ‘uncle’ or ‘aunt’ that doesn’t mean they are actually related. I cannot wait to see what else I learn in the next few weeks that I am here.