There is no such thing as an 'average' day in my life in Shanghai. There is always some new adventure from exploring city parks, or hiking mountains right outside the city. From library days to international dinners with each friend bringing a dish from their own country. Shanghai is on big adventure, one new experience after another and an experience that I will never forget.
I go to school at Jiaotong University about four hours a day, with morning classes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and afternoon classes Tuesdays and Thursdays. My curriculum is comprised of three individual classes; Reading, Speaking and Listening. Sometimes I have one class for the entire four hour period, with three breaks allowing us an opportunity to buy water, tea and sandwiches at the third floor mini cafe before returning to lessons.
After morning classes I meet up with my friends for lunch. Sasha and Paulina from Russia, Tom from Australia, Chris from France, Lareina from the Philippines, Manuel from Spain, Helena from Ukraine, Karl from Sweden, Jaap from Holland, Achraf from Morocco, Leticia and Carla from Mexico and I usually make our way to one of the many small street food carts around our campus, or sometimes, when we feel like splurging, to CityShop, the only shop in the city where you can find a authentic, western style sandwich with good quality bread and cheese.
Street food in Shanghai is magical. It will be strange returning to the United States and not being able to get a full meal for barely 3 dollars, at a teeny tiny dumpling kitchen off the road. One of my absolute favorites is a closet-sized, nameless restaurant we simply dubbed 'the soup place.' Even with the ridiculously hot weather I can't help dashing down to the soup place at least a couple times a week to bring some soup back to my apartment. At the soup place you pick up a basket and some tongs at the entrance and walk along the wall, lined with little bundles of greens, meets, tofus and other vegetables. Picking only the ones you want you fill your basket and bring it over to the counter. Giving it a quick count the man at the counter (who know practically knows my favorite soup by heart) tallies up the little bundles of food and charges 1 yuan (about 15 cents) per bundle bringing the total of my personalized soup to an average of 12 yuan (about 2 dollars).
With the group lunches are usually drawn out, lasting a couple of hours at least, with us practically occupying the entire small soup kitchen or other restaurant with our numbers, chatting for ages about absolutely everything. Usually making fun of each others accents or strange cultural differences, comparing and contrasting childhoods or just chatting about what everyone did over the weekend. When we do decide to split up it is probably later in the afternoon. After a morning class some of us may decide to make it a park day, grabbing a soccer ball or lacrosse sticks from my house, a few bags of snacks and some sodas from Family Mart and running to find a grassy spot in the rare Shanghai sunshine. If it is raining perhaps we will head to my place and watch a movie on the flat screen or off to the new bar, Demarcias, that just opened around the corner and is targeted directly towards the foreign students, with the world's flags hanging from the ceiling and everyones signatures and phrases in uncountable languages sharpied onto walls.
With finals coming up some days find us at the libraries instead of parks, huddled in groups over textbooks repetitively trying to memorize characters or whispering proper pronunciations to one another. Sometimes we will end up at each others houses, having movie nights or dinners together.
There is no such thing as an average day in Shanghai. Every day is something new, meeting new people or exploring new corners of the city. Discovering strange street markets or new little groves of trees with little streams running through them. Always with my friends and always on the lookout for another adventure to have in the city.