Written by Jonathan Melberg (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), Student Correspondent CET Shanghai, Summer 2016
7:15am – An alarm interrupts a recurring dream of munching on a well-made Reuben sandwich. I wash my face, brush my teeth, and quietly gather my materials for class, trying my best not to wake my roommate. I then walk to the dining hall.
7:30 – For breakfast I order a 肉报 ròu bāo (steamed bun filled with meat), a bowl of 白粥 báizhōu (plain rice congee), and a cup of 豆浆 dòujiāng (warm soybean milk). This all comes out under $2. While I eat breakfast, I review of the vocab words that will be on today’s dictation.
8:00 – Chinese class begins with a dictation to test our knowledge of the new vocab words. The teacher says three to four sentences that include both new and old vocabulary and we have to write them out in a small booklet for that is turned in for grading. After the dictation, the teacher introduces new grammar structures and explains how to properly use the new vocab words. As there are only eight other students in the class, there are many opportunities to participate in discussions and we are able to quickly resolve questions on the material.
10:00 – Class ends with the teacher assigning homework and handing back the previous day’s
dictation so that we can correct our mistakes. After class I often go to the fruit market to buy fresh waxberries or mangos. I have never had fruit in the United States so sweet and delicious as the fruit from the small market next to campus.
10:45 – Unwind for a little bit. I’ll spend some time exploring the neighborhoods surrounding campus, flipping on the TV to watch local programming, or simply listening to music. One afternoon I was lucky enough to catch an episode of Chinese SpongeBob SquarePants.
11:15 – Begin working on homework..
12:15 – Grab lunch with some friends at one of the many small places to get food on West Yan’an Road. There is a great spot just a couple minutes from campus that serves a healthy portion of incredible dumplings in broth for about $2.75.
1:30 – Quick shower, change into business casual attire, then hop on the subway to my internship.
2:15 – Arrive at my company’s office and begin working on the day’s task. I am often blown away listening to the employees, who are predominantly from the United States and the United Kingdom, speak flawless Chinese to clients. It is a great inspiration for me to keep up my studies.
5:45 – Leave the office. Once at the subway station, all courtesies of public transportation observed in America disappear. It is a fight for space on the subway during rush hour. The timid and claustrophobic should seek an alternate means of transportation.
6:15 – Back at campus, I meet up with some friends and go to the dining hall. On the second floor of the second dining hall, the chefs can prepare any number of traditional Chinese dishes off the extensive menu. These made to order meals never come out over $3.50. It’s a steal.
7:30 – Continue working on my Chinese and elective homework. Typically the homework for the pre-advanced Chinese class includes reading a page long article in Chinese about topics such as globalization, environmental protection, and the Chinese education system, answering questions about the article using new vocab and grammar structures, writing a short essay, completing grammar exercises, and memorizing about 30 characters. When my roommate gets back from his internship we joke around and teach each other about our respective cultures when I need a quick break from studying.
11:30 – Ah yes, homework is done and now it’s time to sleep.