My second day in Shanghai is coming to a close, and I am doing my best to adapt and feel at home. Been to the local police station for registration (as I am living in a flat and not a hotel) and afterwards I went to the local Supermarket where I spent an hour trying to identify the scary, but highly fascinating commodities on the shelves. Bread and dairy products are not really popular with the Chinese, as opposed to dried fruits, dried fish, sticky rice balls, seaweed, shiitake and pork dumplings. As the whitewashed Chinese that I am, I have no idea how to cook with any of these products, so I just went with the stuff that I knew wouldn’t require any culinary skills, namely instant noodles, sesame rice biscuits and strawberry yogurt on a bottle. My god these will be two healthy months:
I am feeling pretty bewildered at the moment. I am cheerful when around people, but once I am left alone I get homesick. Not only does one feel isolated and alienated in a huge city like Shanghai, but the language barrier is turning what should be the easiest task into a challenge of life and death. I recognize this feeling of culture shock – I had it quite severely back in 2007 when I went to live in Beijing for 5 months. The good thing now however, is that my ability to adapt has become significantly better as a result of having lived in Beijing and London, and I feel ten times more confident now than I did 3 years ago. I have realized that isolating myself and moping around is not going to reduce my disorientation and confusion – it is my job to make the best of my situation and struggle to adapt to Chinese society. I have therefore signed up for intermediate Chinese classes starting next week, with the goal being to break the worst language barrier so that I can function well in China without any help from anybody. I also make sure to congratulate myself on any minor challenges I can overcome. Like boiling water on a gas oven for the first time. Success.