I made it through my first real week of business school classes! I missed being a student and feel excited and energized to learn again. I am only taking two classes the first module (Business Mathematics and Operations Management). The reason being, I want to focus my efforts on developing a strong foundation in math (since I have absolutely ZERO math background) and so that I feel comfortable moving onto Financial Accounting and Econometrics in the next modules. Typically, international students take three courses and Chinese students take two courses (Chinese students are here for three years and usually have a heavier workload). However, I decided to ease back into school-mode without too much pressure on myself and to focus on math math math. I am not going to fall behind; I will just take a bit longer to finish up my required courses (which I am fine with). So far, I have been able to keep up with the math content (we are starting with linear algebra, which I did in high school), but I definitely need to do lots of review! It has been a while since I looked at a math textbook beyond the primary/middle school level (teaching middle school math, unfortunately, isn’t helping me out much). We have our first math quiz on Thursday, so wish me luck! I have been You Tubing all the concepts we learn in class and have also started working with a Chinese math tutor – he helps me with math and gets to practice his English (it’s a win-win for both of us!)
Socially, life has been great! Like I mentioned in an earlier post, we have a lake (Mirror Lake) in the center of the main quad area. Mirror Lake is the go-to chill spot for the international students in the evenings. On any given evening, you can count on seeing many international classmates mingling by Mirror Lake with a Tsingdao beer in hand. Even though I am not much of a beer drinker, I can pickup a bottle of tea at the convenience store across the way and catch-up with my peers. It’s a nice way to bond with classmates on a low budget and relax after a day of classes.
There is definitely a college-like vibe here. The weekdays are spent studying, participating in clubs, playing sports and mainly eating on campus at one of the cafeterias or campus restaurants. When Friday comes, all the students are ready to get off campus, eat some international cuisine and partayyyy until the sun comes up. There is no better place to be a 20 something year-old in China than Shenzhen, where the average age is 27. Unlike Shanghai and Beijing, Shenzhen is not somewhere to travel for its incredible Chinese culture, history and museums. Shenzhen is better known for its theme parks, golf courses, nightlife, resorts, seafood and shopping. I find that Shenzhen is more similar to Miami, Florida than anywhere I have traveled in China. Let’s just say that when my parents come to China for their first time this winter, Shenzhen is not high on my list of places to take them…unless of course they want to go clubbing with me in Coco Park or SeaWorld, mom and dad – thoughts? For my third year of living in China, I am certainly not complaining! I have already done the “Chinesey experience”. It is nice to be living in a cleaner part of China with palm trees, breathable air and ample personal space. It’s actually kind of the best of both worlds right now…I have my Chinese friends and classmates, my authentic Chinese “University Town”, unlimited Mandarin practice, cheap Chinese cuisine…just in “Miami”.
This weekend was actually a long weekend because today is a special Chinese holiday “The Mid-Autumn Festival”. According to Wikipedia “The Mid-Autumn Festival is an official harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese peoples. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese Calendar and Vietnamese Calendar, during a full moon, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian Calendar, within 15 days of the autumnal equinox.” You may have also heard this holiday referred to as the “Moon Festival” (due to the fact that it takes place during a full moon) or the “Mooncake Festival”. It is tradition to eat Chinese Mooncakes on this day – go to a nearby Asian market and see if they sell Mooncakes so that you can try them in honor of this special day! Let me know what you guys think of them. They are small Chinese pastries filled with different flavors (red bean and pineapple are quite common). Personally, I always go for the pineapple.
HAPPY MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL EVERYONE!
I had a lovely morning celebrating the Mooncake Festival at a nearby dim sum restaurant with some new international and Chinese friends. My friend Lisa (from Germany) met a Chinese student at an on-campus organization who then invited her along to dim sum. Lisa then invited some of her international peers (including me) to join her. I felt honored to come along and celebrate the holiday at a local Chinese hot spot. Like many dim sum restaurants in China, it was located in a nice hotel. Considering today is a holiday, the wait was not too long and the atmosphere was perfect.
I know some of you like being able to put faces with names, so I will introduce you to my new friends! As seen in the group picture below – Lisa is the other blonde female from Berlin, Remi is the guy with glasses and he is from Canada and Gabriel (with blonde hair) is from Slovakia. The two Chinese girls are students at Peking University, but they are in the Environmental program (not the business school). We ordered tons of different dishes to share (Chinese-style). As most of you probably know, all dishes are shared in China…nothing is your own. Even if you go to a sandwich place, you will most likely see Chinese people splitting everything and sharing…that’s just how it is done here! As you can probably guess, there wasn’t a whole lot of vegetarian dim sum. However, I did manage to find some delicious food to eat. I tried some wood ear (the black fungus) in vinegar and garlic sauce (it was amazing), Chinese cabbage/bok choy and a garlic cucumber and onion salad. I was perfectly content with my golden pot of fabulous Chinese green tea…I must have had about 15 cups of tea! I don't know what I would do without tea. I am addicted.
The rest of my Monday off will be spent reviewing math and washing my sheets for the first time. This evening, the Mooncake celebration will continue! One international student, Henry (he is Chinese, but grew up in Canada and Maryland) spent the weekend in Hong Kong (as did many other students…I am still waiting for my residence permit before I can leave Mainland China) and brought back lots of assorted Mooncakes for the other international students to sample. It’s first come first serve, so hopefully I will get there fast enough. At 8pm tonight, all of the full-time management students (both international and Chinese students) are going to have a get-to-know-you mingling session with icebreaker games and mooncakes so that we can all get to know each other better and celebrate the holiday.
That’s what is new in Shenzhen! I am thinking of you all and sending you hugs. Liv left for college yesterday, so please shower her with phone calls and text messages for me! I am wishing her an amazing year and am excited to Skype her soon! And don’t forget, Jordan is turning 26 TOMORROW!!!!!!! Jordan, make sure you check your Wechat tomorrow for millions of birthday voice messages.
P.S. Yes, the piggy buns pictured below ARE filled with pork hehe.