It’s Cissy again, this time coming to you from Shanghai, China. I’m a sophomore studying Business and Political Economy, and I spent last semester in London. It’s my third month at NYU Shanghai, and, as expected, it’s been a totally life-changing experience. The city is amazing, everything is extremely cheap, and best of all, it’s completely different from anywhere I have ever lived or visited. From the culture to the food to the nightlife, I am constantly being thrown out of my comfort zone and learning new things.
The thing that shocked me most when I arrived here was that hardly anyone spoke English. You would think that in a global, cosmopolitan city such as Shanghai, most people would understand at least some English. This is usually found in more professional industries. But the people you interact with on a daily basis, like the grocery store clerks or taxi drivers, will most likely only communicate in Chinese. Fortunately, I was fine because I speak a decent amount of Mandarin, but for people with no prior Chinese knowledge, there was a pretty steep learning curve. After a few weeks everyone managed to figure it out.
Go to The Bund and Yu Gardens (pictured)!! These are the most famous attractions in Shanghai and they are exquisite. There are also endless museums to visit and the bargaining at the “fake markets” is wild. Over Chinese New Year I traveled to Beijing and got to see the Great Wall, attended many CNY festivals, and visited 5 different temples. But because the student visa only allows us to travel outside of China once, it’s a bit difficult to hit other countries in Asia. However, China is enormous and it has hundreds of awesome cities to experience, like Chengdu, Xi’an, Hainan, Suzhou, Yunan, etc. and travel is relatively cheap by plane/train/car.
Shanghai has an incredible variety of food: hot pot and xiaolongbao are widely enjoyed and cheap to eat, and there’s a huge selection of Western-style restaurants (unfortunately, with Western-style prices). Whether you’re eating jianbing from a tiny street cart or dining in the “food court” at one of many super fancy malls, going out to eat in Shanghai is always an experience. Almost everyone dines out instead of cooking because it can be much cheaper: a bowl of noodles runs around 10 RMB (less than $2). The most difficult part for me is that the best bubble tea ever (一点点) costs a whopping $1! There’s an endless selection here and, especially if you love Chinese food, you will never go hungry.
In Shanghai, nightlife is what you make it to be. The big clubs that people usually go to (Taxx, M1NT, Fusion, Myst) are not personally my favorite. These places blast EDM and are packed with people, smoke is everywhere and there’s no room to even dance. But it’s usually free entry and a good time for people who love EDM.
But like I said, going out is what you make it to be—I only recently discovered venues that fit more what I like, such as Monkey Champagne, ASL, and Le Baron. These places play hip-hop music and have a completely different vibe overall. There are also so many great bars and streets that offer a great clubbing alternative. You might have to do some digging to find what area of nightlife interests you the most in Shanghai, but there is definitely somewhere for everyone.
That’s it for now! I will keep you updated as the semester progresses, but in the meantime, feel free to Facebook message or email me firstname.lastname@example.org any questions.
Until next time!