08 de September de 2021
08 de September de 2021
Yes! We’re visiting Shanghai with Pau, who will tell us about his Erasmus experience in this city.
I’m Pau Bernades Cañada, I’m 25 years old and two years ago I did my Erasmus in Shanghai, China. I’m from Mallorca but I’ve studied Digital Marketing and Communication in Barcelona. I have now finished my bachelor’s degree but the six months spent in Shanghai have certainly been the best part of these four years.
Pau at the Great Wall of China, in Beijing..
I chose Shanghai the moment I saw the list of available destinations. I had some doubts at first, it being a country that’s so different and me not having much information about Erasmus experiences over there. But that was also what interested me the most about it. Also, there were many places I wanted to visit, like the Avatar mountains or Chengdu, the city with the highest number of panda bears in nature reserves.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (the mountains for the film Avatar)
It was a French university, ESSCA, but it had students from different parts of Europe and Latin America. They helped me with everything I ever needed, both academically and with my day to day missions — like finding accomodation, opening a bank account, etc.
There was one thing, though, that stood out: their activities. Both the Welcome Week and the trips they organise to the different cities and towns during the Golden Week (a Chinese celebration) were completely amazing.
A university visit to Alibaba’s headquarters.
I was very much surprised by how nice they are to foreigners everywhere. Even when communication can be tricky —since they don’t speak much English—, they are always nice to you. Something interesting that I noticed was that nightclubs are free and they even pour you drinks for free as well. Also, Shanghai is subject to a strong international influence, so you can go out and listen to the same music that you would find in a club or restaurant in Barcelona or any other European city.
If you visit Shanghai there are some incredible and unique spots that you must visit. For example, M1NT nightclub. Besides having a really cool atmosphere, it has a massive shark tank. Regarding the buildings, the one that caught my eye the most was the Oriental Pearl Tower: beautiful on the outside and on the inside. I also recommend walking down The Bund: it’s really cool; you have the whole Pudong area in front of you, full of skyscrapers, and in the evenings they put on a great light show. Finally, you can’t leave Shanghai without eating at a HaiDiLao Hot Pot — very different to the other hot pot restaurants that are so common in China.
Pau and the Pudong area in the background.
I must admit that in order to visit China you will need many tips and information and you’ll also need to know how to do certain things, like renting an apartment, in order to avoid making any mistake. The first tip that comes to mind is this: beware of the regular taxis, they will alway try to fool you. Here, the bargain culture is very present, so don’t hesitate to do it and go as far as offering as little as half of what they’re telling you. When I signed up for the gym, for example, they asked for 300 yuans per month. I ended up paying 160.
There are some essential apps such as WeChat, Alipay, DiDi and, most importantly, a VPN so that you can access Google and all the western social networks.
My day to day during the week was pretty similar. In the mornings I would go to class, have lunch near the university with friends —eating out in China is really cheap; around 2 to 4 euros per menu— and in the afternoons I would go to the gym. Every day we would do something in the evenings. On the weekends there were two plans: a getaway to discover some part of the country (the train is really cheap, so we were able to do it often) or spending the weekend in Shanghai and going out.
The Hunan Region — visiting the rice fields.
I could tell you so many stories! From day one, you experience things you had never imagined. When I first got here it was really hot and the first thing I did was have something to eat and some water — I learned that if you don’t tell them that you want cold water, they will give you very hot water.
But my most amazing story was when I met a French girl, Alice, whom I had met for the first time in Mallorca three years earlier and, by pure chance, we were studying in the same university and were taking the same class. We started dating and she’s now my girlfriend.
My favourite place was The Bund; no doubt. It’s a boardwalk by the river, quite long and full of restaurants and bars.
As for the food, the traditional Chinese food, there wasn’t anything that I really liked… But dumplings were good!
Choosing just one plan is hard. I’d say visiting the different parts of the country. In this way you discover amazing places and have a great time. I also enjoyed having drinks on the rooftops of the skyscrapers — the views from up there are stunning.
I think the phrase I used the most was Bù lá, which means no spice. If you don’t say anything, the standard dish will come with spicy sauce.
Initially it may represent a great effort, since you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. But once you’re there and start feeling comfortable, the ideas you used to have start changing and you start enjoying the experience. You experience a great inner growth as you find yourself in these situations you have to overcome and you also develop your social skills. An experience like this, whether in Shanghai or in any other city, helps us have a broader vision of other cultures, of other work opportunities and friendships that you can have outside your closed environment. And, most importantly, you have a good time.
My experience was deeply positive. The only thing I would change is that I would have liked it if it had been longer. Time flies and six months ended up being too little.