I went to the University of Fudan in Shanghai to attend Mandarin classes. China plays an important role in today’s world, and I believe having an understanding of the language, but also the culture, is a great plus for my future career. We had Chinese classes from 9.00 a.m. to 11.35 a.m., and various activities in the afternoon, such as kungfu and culture classes, Chinese painting, visit of Shanghai museum, or acrobatics show.
Before leaving, I was afraid of the pollution. Shanghai is one of the most polluted cities in the world; even though I would not jog in the street, I was happily surprised to see many trees everywhere and numerous little parks.
I knew Chinese lifestyle would be different from Western one, but I had not expected to see children relieving themselves in the metro station… However I discovered how nice and helpful are Shanghainese; they will always answer back to your smile.
What surprised me is the fact that out of the estimated 24,000,000 residents of Shanghai very few people speak English; therefore you always have to prepare the address in Chinese characters beforehand when taking the taxi, because none of the taxi drivers speak English!
Learning Chinese is not as hard as I had thought. We focused the first days on pronouncing the tones (high flat, going up, going down, going down then up) and reading pinyin. Every day our class composed of Japanese, Korean, Canadian, Thaï, British, Austrian, German, Columbian, Venezuelan and French students learnt expressions and daily conversation vocabulary. This international atmosphere was great!
I will be starting my exchange year in Fudan university this coming September. I am so enthusiast to continue learning Chinese for a year, and excited to see how many characters I will remember!