First Two Weeks in Qingdao (青岛)


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
  • A pretty walk on a chilly day-must return!
  • Beaches!
  • Zhongshan Park-the main city park with cherry blossoms in the spring!
  • Very German looking St. Michael's cathedral.
  • 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
  • Nikes and Burberry for about $35...what??
  • 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
  • Truly, truly awe-inspiring.
  • 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)

The front entrance of Qingdao University, courtesy of the world wide webs.

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!

Some of my classmates! Indonesia, Korea, and Australia represented in this shot.

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!

View from the 9th floor where my class is located. I live at the purple arrow, the convenience store is at the blue, and the green points out a street vendor that lines this particular road.
My part of our humble abode.
Nothing to complain about, once we added the shower curtain. Note the proximity of the water heater plug to the shower head.

Fun Tidbits

  • 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.
My poor TOMS :(
  • 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 definitely can't have just one.
  • I miss the convenience of clean tap water. Never take it for granted if you have access to drinkable tap water!
No more buying water bottles for this chick!