The last two days have really been about exploring the campus and city.
Yesterday I had to take a placement exam, but after that my entire study abroad group went to the store right off campus. The first problem came up when we realized we had to register for cards at the store. Originally you could only use your passport, but thankfully they let us use our driver license as well. When we finally got in, everyone split up into groups looking for certain things. This place was the equivalent to a Chinese Walmart. It was huge and seemed like it had everything. It was extremely interesting while also confusing. The store had everything one could need, but the packaging was in Chinese. There were some difficulties when buying things. We could not figure out what the towel sizes were or how to differentiate shampoo and conditioner but we figured it out in the end. I am very thankful for my textbook’s cultural highlights, because when we went to pay I already knew you had to pay for plastic bags. The government started this in 2008 as a way to reduce pollution.
All in all, it was a successful trip. Today a group of UF students and I took the metro to Tianfu square. This was my first time ever riding a subway. It was extremely convenient right outside campus. It was also really easy and cheap. It only cost 2 yuan ($0.30) to get to Tianfu square. Once we got there, we saw a beautiful glass ceiling with Chinese characters. From there, we went to the people’s park. It was beautiful. People were doing tai chi, singing and balancing balls on fans while dancing. (I did not realize that this was possible??) Inside the park, we had chrysanthemum tea at tea house. There was even a tiny children’s amusement park inside. However, there was a strange aspect to our trip. People were staring at us and taking pictures. Some people even came up to us and asked to take pictures with us, especially the blonds in our group. Everyone was very nice about it, but it still felt as if we were standing out. There were Chinese students there who even asked some of us to take their class survey. It’s strange to be somewhere you stand out so much, as a brown eyed, brunette girl, I always blended in at home.
After the park, we went to lunch at a hot pot restaurant which was delicious but spicy. I am still amazed at how cheap such good food is. When we went back to the metro, we even went to a little bakery and I got doughnuts on a stick.
The past two days were great for exploring and learning about where I am.