Year Abroad #China: Becoming a 中国通 – part one.

Hello lovely people! 

I apologise for the delay! I cannot believe that a week has flown by nor that I have been so utterly busy for every waking minute of each day.

Wednesday - 周三

It has been hectic! On my first morning there (wednesday) I was still pretty cold and as I was still on my own I felt a wave of “get me out of here now, what have I done?” for a good half an hour. I asked at the desk a few times about my electricity and on the third time the receptionist was able to tell me I’d have electricity sometime in the afternoon. There is only wifi in the lobby of the accommodation buildings so that morning quite a few of us met each other there due to trying to connect with home. I met an Australian called Lisa, an American called Anna and a guy from New Zealand called Jos (pronounced ‘yos’). We ended up going for a walk around the campus together and getting lunch at one of the canteens. The food was pretty good!! It’s self-serve so you pick as many dishes of a selection of fish, meat, vegetables, and rice and pay for them accordingly. Ningbo is said to be famous for their seafood but everything was really tasty. It was also so fantastic to meet new people and chat and be social. I love it. Everyone so far is really friendly!

The Yellow River flowing nearby the city centre! 🙂

By then the registration session had started so we headed there and met another bunch of international students. There are quite a few French and Canadian people, as well as a Danish guy, a few from Finland, four girls from Ireland, and two Koreans (and this wasn’t all of them!) The registration process was a bit of a hassle because if our payments for the accommodation hadn’t come through yet we had to go to an office on the other side of campus to show them proof of payment in order to return and complete the process. I had to go back and forth a few times because I had left my phone to charge in my room so I didn’t realise I’d need proof of payment until we had shown up at the finance office. It probably took me almost two hours because I chatting to various people as I went.

The rest of the girls from the UK arrived too so I was helping them sort out anything that I had already done. Beana has moved into my flat and Molly and Juliet are across the hall in another. Once we finally completed registration we headed back to our residence to see many other students waiting outside. They were headed to town so we decided to tag along! Once we got to the bus stop we realised no one actually knew which bus to take! So Lisa and I asked a couple of Chinese students coming out of the gate and they told us where to go. So off we wandered and eventually got on a bus!

This journey took longer than expected. It turns out the campus is in the bottom south-east side of the city which is about twenty-five minutes by taxi away. The journey, in the end, took us about an hour! We went in search of food and a couple of the guys asked some people if there were any bars and where they were. (Typical westerners hehe) We ended up in a place called “Munich Brewery” which was a shame because it was western food but the upside was we got to walk along the river going through the city! There were a few fountains alongside it and a lot of the buildings were lit up so it looked really bright and pretty. By eight o’clock that evening we were falling asleep on the restaurant’s table so caught taxis home. 

Thursday - 周四

The following day we had a campus tour and a series of introductory talks throughout the afternoon. It was pretty thorough and informative. The gym/sports centre on campus is free!! Thus I have no excuse to play badminton as much as I can and do some exercise during this semester. Following all that we found ourselves heading to IKEA to get a few basic things for our rooms. The prices were pretty similar to other countries but it wasn’t extortionate at all. I ended up following the pink theme as I bought a baby pink bin, pink blanket and . I mixed it up a little with a small orange rug and also got a black analog clock. Now I am very snug when I get into bed at night without needing the heater on constantly. The IKEA here is massive. I know they are meant to be huge warehouses but this one never seemed to end. I think it was because they had about double the amount of showrooms with no shortcuts throughout the store. I wonder whether this is because IKEA wants to advertise a lot of ways of how to make the “rooms” look spotless in order to be able to sell even more to the Chinese population. But then again, they do that in every IKEA anyway.. Hmm..

Friday – 周五

One of the best days so far!

We started the day early again to go on a day trip organised by the student society ‘Vís-a-Vís’ to introduce us to the city. A short journey later it seemed we were on the outskirts of the city and going into a series of traditional style Chinese buildings called ‘Tiangong Villa’. It was beautiful! We spent a few hours there learning a few arts and crafts such as ‘Chinese knots’, trying different teas, making origami flowers, and building and decorating our own Chinese lanterns. Lisa and I paired up and made one and it was pretty awesome!! I wrote our Chinese names and painted the tree, she painted the cute little fish and the sea. We also had lunch there and it was a proper sit down meal in the middle of an open courtyard. It was the one day that was warm and sunny so it was soooo lovely. We ate a variety of dishes but the most impressive was the last they served. When the dish was put down on the table it looked as if they had just served us mushrooms but oh no! These were buns filled with pork that had been made to look exactly like mushrooms!! We have no idea how they managed to go into so much detail and even make the top layer look authentic, but they did and the mushroom buns were delicious!


The next stop on our adventure was the ‘Tianyi Library’ which is an old house with lots of beautiful gardens that dates back to the 11th century. The reason it is called a library is because the man who owned it collected over 70,000 books and kept them there.

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After the library we were dropped off at a shopping mall called InCity in which I bought a big cardigan from H&M and a coat from uniqlo. It’s not terribly thick but it acts as my inner layer to the big waterproof coat I have. Then I joined the others in the supermarket to buy a few drinks. Luckily I found Eric wandering around and managed to get him to tag along with me to the alcohol section. He ended up carrying my basket and following me around the shop telling me where to get the few bits I needed such as tissues and food. He’s a gem!

Friday night was amazing. We all went to the Irish girls’ flat to pre-drink then out into the club to an area called Lao Wai Tan which is full of bars and clubs. It was most of our massive group who went which was incredible! We ended up staying in a bar called Candles for the entire night which was playing pretty good music and had a snooker table. Shots were 10¥ (£1ish) of which I only had one! So a lot of people were going for it! 

When we left the club I was starving. I’m so used to having McDonald’s after a night out in Nottingham and old habits die hard. I spotted street food on the other side of the road so we crossed and I had a kebab (not like a donner kebab at all!) and the boys had noodles. We got home at about half four to find ourselves locked out of a accommodation building having forgotten about the newly installed system of using our cards to open the doors. However our cards didn’t work either because we hadn’t been told that we had to activate it! Luckily the receptionist who was sleeping in the room behind the desk woke up and let us all in.

The weekend was pretty calm compared to the first few days which was nice. I went on an adventure to Ningbo Train Station with Lisa then we went shopping in WanDa Plaza. Other than that I just spent time with Juliet, Molly and Beana and other internationals we met up with!

Oh, I should explain the title: 中国通 is translated to ‘a china hand’ in English. The meaning of this is that a 中国通 is someone who is an expert on Chinese culture and on being Chinese. I am far from being that at the moment… but step by step I may succeed in becoming one!

All my love.


Author: Georgie

British. Foodie. Traveller. Cat-lover. being a twentysomething and trying to have an adventure at the same time, speaks chinese, spanish, korean and english, hence: this is the life of a language student, now transformed into ! xo.