Two weeks in Qingdao! What? Time is a funny, strange mistress. Here’s what the first two weeks living abroad has looked like for me! My New Temporary Home
From rural mid-America to a huge city on the coast backed by mountains…and I LOVE IT. I feel like I get the best of so many worlds. Qingdao itself has a plethora of things to do. My “Qingdao Bucket List” is already pretty extensive and I’m constantly adding to it. Subscribing to Redstar, "Qingdao's best English/Chinese language magazine" helps keep things interesting. For example, one Friday night thanks to the events section of Redstar we ended up at a place called Downtown Bar where three bands were playing, including The Beat!
I have decided, though, that if I am to experience any culture shock, it will most likely be from the culture of a large city-not so much China. Is that strange? Probably. I find language barriers and cultural differences exciting, but facing public transportation is another story. Although Qingdao does have a very extensive bus system I’m finding extremely convenient, and I once had a really chatty cabbie that was fun to try and talk to :)
Qingdao Bucket List (thus far)
- Fushan Mountain-super close to campus, I'm 90% sure I can walk there quite easily
- Old Observatory International Youth Hostel-deal on unlimited burgers, burritos, and beer on Friday nights (Redstar discovery!)
- Little Qingdao-a small island in Qingdao Bay with a lighthouse
- Zhongshan Park-the main city park with cherry blossoms in the spring!
- Badaguan-a scenic area located in the east with mainly German and Dutch architecture, because at one time Qingdao was occupied by Germany
- May Fourth Square-home of the giant red sculpture you can see in any Google search of Qingdao
- Olympic Sailing Center-the 2008 Olympics had their sailing things here
- Taidong, Jimo Lu, and Antique Market
- Qingdao TV Tower-apparently a must-see bird's eye view of the city!
- Rooftop of the nearby building just because
- Museums: Beer Museum-where Qingdao beer is brewed, Art Museum, History Museum
- Beer Street-Qingdao is famous for it's beer, and there are tons of restaurants along this street
- Qingdao Grand Theatre
- Mount Lao-regarded as the birth place of Daoism *Check out an extended and updated list on my "Qingdao 'Bucket List'" page! -----> Link at the top right.
School Stuff – The University Part of Qingdao University (青岛大学)
It’s not all fun and games! Even though I kept forgetting about the whole “study” part of study abroad when I was preparing, it’s still a thing. Registration was a bit of a mad house in the International Student Office. I guess that’s to be expected though. Just off the top of my head I can recall seeing German, British, Australian, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Russian, Indonesian, Brazilian, and Canadian students. Whew. It’s SUPER exciting I get to rub shoulders with so many nationalities while I’m here.
We have class from 8:30-12:30 every morning. I opted to take the 102 level (it starts at 101) since I’ve got about a year’s worth of study under my belt from the states. It’s a challenge, because my teachers use little to no English. Four hours of foreign language is mentally exhausting, but this is really good for me. I understand more and more every day, and I love focusing on one subject. Bonus: I’m the only American in my class!
An extremely convenient part of life right now is where we are located on campus. I live in a dormitory for exchange students called Xin Lou (新楼), literally translated as “New Building” (even though apparently it’s still around ten years old). I’m within a five minute walk of my class building, the international office, a convenience store, and multiple small restaurants and street vendors. As the building is for internationals, my roommate is Japanese! Her name is Yume, and she speaks a bit of English which helped with initial logistical thingies. Like toilet paper. I’m happy she’s not fluent though-more chances to practice Chinese!
- Western toilets are a blessing straight from God. Seriously. Squatties are a workout and a nuisance. I never thought toilet paper and hand sanitizer would be staples in my purse.
- It’s traditional for a host to make at least 3 toasts during a meal. Anyone can though, and everyone clinks classes and says gan bei! (干杯)
- I have yet to eat something I hate. And the list of things that have made their way into my stomach (that I can tell what they are) include: chicken hearts, squid dumplings, fermented bread drink, tofu in various forms, squid, and octopus. There are plenty of non-strange things I’ve loved too. Some of my favorites are: cucumber Lay’s chips, spicy/salty green beans, fried taro (a root..), taro ice cream, vinegar and garlic cucumbers, and peanut soup. The only thing I miss so far is a fresh green salad. Most vegetables are cooked. Veggies is veggies though!
- I miss the convenience of clean tap water. Never take it for granted if you have access to drinkable tap water!