The most common question I get is ”Why China?”. I've always wanted to travel, to visit other countries, discover new places, meet and interact with different people, connect with new cultures, so when I got the opportunity to study in China, I directly hopped-in. In the beginning of 2015 my university signed a contract (something similar to an exchange student program) with a university in China.
I was so excited about it. 11 students got accepted in this program and I was one of them. Everyone did his homework about China, where we were going to stay, which university, weather, location etc. Except for me, obviuosly, I thought I'll just figure everything out once I'm there. Biiig mistake! We'll get there soon.
Long story short I arrived in China on March 8, a cold, light-rainy Sunday evening. A bus picked us up from Shanghai airport and three hours later we arrived Wuxi, the city I was going to live in for the next four months. The campus looked empty, not exactly how I imagined China but I was too hungry to think about anything else apart from food. Sooo hungry! It didn't last long though, the panic took over the moment I realized I'm in a foreign country with no cash, just a bank card and an "out of service" ATM next to me. I find comfort thinking I wasn't the only one. Out of 11 students only one had RMB (chinese currency) and he ended up paying our meals at the school canteen. After dinner we headed to the dormitory.
Did I tell you how sensitive I am when it comes to low temperatures? How much I hate being cold? Well, that evening were 6 degrees! 6! And if that's not enough, the humidity in that region makes 6°C feel like -1. On top of that my luggage was filled with dresses, t-shirts and sandals. I still don't know what was I thinking when I packed, I wasn't going to a tropical destination. Anyway, the best part is yet to come.
I was handed the key for my room, Room 105 and I couldn't wait to get inside, defrost by the heater, take a looong hot shower then sleep like a baby. Well, none of it happened!
There was no heater in the room, just an old air conditioner which took me about 20 minutes to figure out how to turn it on. Inside was same temperature like outside, that A/C was useless. I figured out some steam might help, so I let the hot water run in the bathroom and started unpacking. 15 minutes later the hot water was out and I couldn't take a shower anymore. That was the last drop. Upset and angry I called my mom crying about how awful and cold China is, begging for a plane ticket back. She gave me 3 days and I had to figure out how to survive 2 more night in this human sized fridge.
Next morning I woke up, pulled the curtains for some light just to reveal an open window and some metal bars. Nooo! Did I almost freeze to death because I wasn't thinking to check the windows? What the heck, Oana? Again, I wasn't the only one so don't judge on me. The day went great, we were presented the campus, the university, the schedule, we got our student card and chinese names. They turned Oana into 吴安娜=WuAnNa -"Wu" is a common chinese family name and "Anna". I ended a perfect day with a night in the club. Clubs are crazy in China, it's a different world, but I'll talk about it in my next posts.
In less than a day I went from hating the place to loving it. I no longer wanted to go home and that's the beginning of my awesome life in China.