Flashback to freshman orientation when you kindly introduce yourself to your peers, meeting your first friends for the first time – all not really knowing what lies ahead. How is the professor? Where is the gym? What are the library hours? Do I actually have to do the readings? Why is there a stray child playing on the lawn? Does he even go here? Who’s dog is that? All equally important questions that cross your mind that first day on UCLA campus.
Orientation day at East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai was like that. It’s small talk with other UCLA students, most of whom I’ve never met given such a small major, over a Chinese breakfast (fresh cut fruit, Shanghainese doughnuts, stir-fried vegetables, dumplings, hot soy milk). We were chatting about our majors, previous travels, hopes for the program, and our plans to climb the Great Wall – looks like there will be a great turnout for a Beijing group to the Great Wall one of these weekends!
After a quick breakfast, we met with our TAs and program director/ECNU correspondent and took a short walking tour around the campus. Here are the photos from the campus tour (and no, they didn’t have legends about every other landmark around campus):
After a brief walking tour, we sat down for a welcome luncheon. Traditional Chinese feasts consist of 10 courses – so pace yourself! I made the mistake of snacking on the shrimp appetizer first and filled up before the main course (at least I think it can be considered main? perhaps 4th course in?)
As soon as the fruit comes, you know you are near the end of the array of dishes emerging from the kitchen. Believe it or not, this is the table AFTER everybody has eaten – not before. Everybody’s full half way into the meal. Too. Much. Good. Food.
After orientation, we took a short 15 minute walk from ECNU campus to Global Harbor Mall just to explore. Global Harbor became our go-to place for food other than Chinese like Mexican, Japanese, Italian, Indonesian. Chinese food is delicious no doubt, but we couldn’t have it for every meal.
Street Food Vendors – usually costing less than 6 yuan a serving (less than 1 USD). Although I haven’t had a problem with consuming street food, be careful and selective where you buy your food. A good rule of thumb is to buy food from restaurants that appear crowded as they must have a good reputation.
Fruit Vendors alongside the streets – If you wish to purchase fruit, it’s generally safe to do so as long as you wash them properly. Others recommend washing with 2/3 bottled water, 1/3 vinegar or just purchase a peeler and peel off the skin.