To be honest, no one goes on exchange solely to study. SO how was it being in China for 3 months? Are Mainland Chinese people as rude as others say? Was the food to be rated a solid 10/10? Stay tuned to find out! Here’s Part II of Summer School in China: New experiences.

Hi guys! I’m Mel (front, wearing the white cap) here to share with you about my 3 weeks spent in Hangzhou, China 🙂

The good…

During the first weekend, we (myself and all the other NUS biomedical students) visited the Industrial Village in Shanghai. It was quite fun on a whole, with us taking a bus there and bunking in together overnight. There was cool things to do: like take an EEG image of our brain and use other high-grade biomedical technology.

Brain imaging

Brain imaging as captioned :))

EEG cap!

An electroencephalogram (EEG) cap usually used to find problems related to the electrical activity of the brain by tracking and recording brain wave patterns. These are really good for use with kids since they can still move around during testing and actually find it funny!

The following weekend, we did some night cycling. I’m not talking humid cycling on a lame route but rather sheer, fun cycling along the river with the wind on our faces. So here’s Tip #1: LEARN TO CYCLE, it’ll make getting around a lot easier, cheaper and fun. Imagine your agonizing 15-minute walk to school in the blistering heat being cut down to a refreshing 2-minute ride.

…the hmms…

That brings me to the weather: it was essentially very hot and humid. And sweaty. Tip #2: BRING LIGHT CLOTHES IN THE SUMMER (usually June through August), China’s summer is not a joke and by that, I mean that the heat was sometimes comparably worse than Singapore’s. The silver lining is that their classrooms are all air-conditioned! However, the airconditioning (sadly) doesn’t extend the corridors and 1 special building where all the toilets are located in Zhejiang Uni.

A typical day in Hangzhou: the clouds are absent

A typical day in Hangzhou: the clouds are absent

What compensates for the crazy weather? Well friends, have you heard of a big plate of Mapo Tofu being sold at just $2-$3? Only in China friends. The food is an amazing 20/10. It’s yummy, affordable and many restaurants (one very close to school) invent cool dishes like the world’s most tasty spicy shredded potato. Just a heads up, they do use a lot of oil and salt in their cooking so Tip #3: LEARN THE PHRASE “少盐shǎo yán, 少油shǎo yóu” which translates to less salt and less oil.

Photographs capturing the yumminess:

Indulging in bubble Tea

Meat skewers yumz

Mapo Tofu (top right)

School food was yummy too! There are 2 canteens in Zhejiang – this is the posher one with more delicate food.

Hai Di Lao steamboat, China is its place of birth 🙂

Another perk of visiting China is the immediacy and convenience of their mobile APPs. China is more cashless and mobile advanced than say our NUS Canteens. For instance, 70% of their population use WeChat/WaiMai to scan a QR code to view restaurant menus and WeChatPay to order food before even physically queueing. Despite that, note that other commonly used social media platforms/search engines are blocked in Chinese tech space so Tip #4: SHARE A VPN WITH YOUR FRIENDS if you’re not okay with giving up Instagram, Netflix or YouTube. It shouldn’t cost much. The one I used was called “Express VPN”.

Here are some recommended VPNs if you’re headed to the Mainland anytime soon 🙂

…and the oh wells.

China is a whole package including its’ culture which is distinct from Singapore’s. Truthfully, I was irked that some*** people were a bit crass. Elderly folk may shove you on public transport/roads. You might see parents let their children pee openly in public or hold them up to take a dump in the dustbin (in the mall where there are toilets). Well, I guess it was just those few scarring experiences and believe the majority are nice and domesticated people. The last and maybe most important tip #5: WATCH OUT FOR YOSELF when crossing the road. The Chinese hustle hard and a vehicle or pedestrian is just something they have to get around by any means possible.

Here are some of Hangzhou’s traffic congestion statistics for the LOLs haha. Source

That’s it from me, I hope you now know a little more about China and some new experiences you could have there. Summer school is a short 3 weeks but I did extend my stay by visiting Shanghai about 2 weeks before the semester started. China is an interesting place to be and well WORTH a summer exchange, I know I thoroughly enjoyed it 🙂

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Previously, Summer School in China (Part I): The technicalities

More articles and guides on exchange/Singapore from clued-in seniors who have been through it all at EB’s experiences

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