Feng Ai
Updated: 2014-03-13

Feng Ai.jpgName: Feng Ai
Country: Zimbabwe
Institute: Shanghai University of Electronic Power
Course: Electrical Engineering and Its Automation


Shanghai is the biggest city in China, one of the world's most populated cities and the one with the largest urban area. All my life seeing in movies I have always dreamt of coming to Shanghai one day. Well now here I am, I have been here for almost a year and a half and yet is seems like a very short time. Being an international student in Shangha is an unforgettable and immensely rewarding experience. Not only will you be able to witness first-hand China's historic transformation from an underdeveloped country into a major global power, but you'll meet people from all over the world too.

I learn here in Shanghai, at Shanghai University of electric Power. It’s a very nice University with very excellent International officers. Arriving in Shanghai was an amazing experience for me, it was a very long flight from my country to shanghai, as I was on the plane I just could not stop looking at the watch wondering what time we were going to land. I finally arrived and yes it was just like in the movies, the city of lights.i had an airport pick up and in just about 30minutes from the airport we arrived at the school. Everything happened so quickly so I hardly noticed anything else, so far everything just went smoothly.

This is where my life studying in shanghai began to take twist and turns. Another international student took me to the shopping mall to buy a few necessities that I needed, I had never seen so many people around me, so many Chinese people looking at me wanting to touch my skin and my hair. By the way I am a black African. Unlike white foreigners, black foreigners are easily noticed by Chinese people. Unlike everybody else in the world three quarters of Chinese people have never been to other countries and moreover they have never seen a black person. I had my hair plated nicely, which is a very normal thing in most countries but here in China it was new to them so I had everyone touching my hair asking so many questions of which at that time I didn’t understand. At first their language was greekish to me, it sounded like people making some buzz sounds and the other thing was that to me they all looked the same.

My biggest surprise was when I went into a computer shop to buy a laptop, I tried to explain to the attendant what I wanted but unfortunately to him English language was just a simple hello. Here everything started to makesense almost 98% of Chinese people cannot speak English. Communication is the biggest barrier if you are a foreigner studying in Shanghai. You have to learn some Chinese language basicsfor you to be able to move around Shanghai. Most commonly used is Pudonghua but they also speak Shanganese which makes it more difficult to understand.

When buying clothes you have high pricing issues, when a Chinese person sees that you are a foreigner the price starts from about 10 times higher, so if you don’t really know how this works you end up buying a thing very cheap for a very high price. Chinese people are very shy, or maybe they are just afraid to be friendly because they are afraid to speak English but for those who can speak a little English they will definitely come to say hello because they want to practice their English by speaking with you. At school most of them are afraid to talk with a foreigner but some will be very pleased to talk with because they want to prove to others that their English is good.

Travelling around alone is very boring because everywhere you go people just stare at you or they just take photos of you without you noticing them. Travelling alone is also boring if you can’t read Chinese language characters because everywhere you go it is all writteninChinese characters. If you encounter a problem and you don’t speak chinese you will have problems getting help.Things like banking and transportation is very convenient in Shanghai. The other biggest problem is clothes sizes, most chinese people are very slim and short so as a foreigner you have problems getting the right sizes and a perfect fit.

As for the food, you would be surprised to find that the local food in China is rather different from the Chinese food in our home countries. This is partly because recipes are adapted to suit local tastes, but also because Chinese cuisine differs from region to region. Chinese are quite strict when it comes to eating, they have specified time to breakfast, lunch and dinner where as I was used to eating any time of the day. When walking it’s a hustle because Chinese use kinetic motorbikes, bicycles and the cars drive on the left side. You have to get used to the hooting of the cars and motorbikes on the road, hooting is like it a road motto for Chinese motorists.

It is quiet an interesting experience being a foreigner studying in shanghai. For life to run smoothly for you, you must learn some basic Chinese and make some Chinese friends.

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