Welcome to the city of smog, shopping and squat toilets

*This was meant to be published on Sunday.

Yesterday I arrived in Shanghai, mostly safe but probably not as sound as I would have liked to be.

My flights were okay and I enjoyed conversations with the two strangers I sat next to but there were also some really 糟糕 (zaogao – unlucky, unfortunate) moments. Here is my version of a series of unfortunate events:

1. My phone stopped working before I had even left Sydney airport. Now normally I’d be fine with this because surely I can live without a phone for a month but the last two days have proved me wrong. When I touched down at Pudong airport I had assumed I would immediately be able to spot the transport the university had organised but I couldn’t find any paper signs identifying they were from Fudan. I waited for other classmates (I had never met before) to somehow come find me but after 15 minutes there was still nothing. I began to worry because I only had another 15 minutes before the bus would just leave without me.

2. (Also links back to point 1) Not only has my phone failed me but my watch has died on me too. I’ve gotten separated from the friends I’ve been exploring Shanghai with a couple of times and they couldn’t call or text me but there was one incident when we decided to split up to go shopping that was particularly terrible. We all went in our opposite directions but I hadn’t realised my watch was faulty so I arrived at our meeting point 30 minutes late. I feel really bad for making them wait so long 😦

3. I’ve also had the (dis)pleasure to meet this one guy in the program who thinks he knows best and every person should be living like him. Now often I don’t make this conclusion about others but I’ve had a strange feeling about him since yesterday and a conversation with him today proved why I had such an ill feeling. We were sharing our opinions on what we found enjoyable in life and he pretty much trash talked about everything I found interesting or disinteresting because it didn’t fit with how he viewed the world. I reasoned that we were all different so fun was a subjective feeling and he just shrugged like other people didn’t matter. At this point I knew there was no way I could reason with him and I was feeling rather hurt by his words because they were bashing not only on my identity but they showed a lack of care for other people… So I did what Evelyn would do. I called him out for his rudeness and his lack of consideration for others and their opinions due to his arrogance. I also wanted to call him a not so nice word but in the end I just ditched him because I couldn’t stand being near him anymore.

4. This last point is definitely the most distressing for me. As if all the other stuff that happened wasn’t enough, today I found out I had no money!! My mum had given me her bank card with supposedly x amount of dollars which would definitely last me long enough for my time here in Shanghai but when I went to the ATM to withdraw cash I didn’t even have enough to pay off the deposit for my hotel. I feel really let down by my mum because I’d nagged and nagged her to check how much was in the account so that I wouldn’t end up in a situation like this but she didn’t. I was so upset because I’d decided to trust her with something for once only to have her fall through not just with a small mistake but so deep that it’s like I’m left flailing in the water and that’s not good because I don’t even know how to swim!! Man I’m so disappointed… How could this even happen?!? I’d been watching the currency exchange rate for weeks and weeks but had refrained from exchanging my money because my mum had said she could help but in the end a thousand problems have sprung from it as I try to navigate myself around this foreign land.

Sigh, It seems like it would have been a while lot easier if I had done things my own way and relied on myself.


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