View of Pudong from the Bund. Pudong is Shanghai’s financial and commercial center and is home to some of the most well-known landmarks in Shanghai, including the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center.
This past Saturday, with my time in China running out, I was looking for nothing other than an authentic Shanghai experience. So I did what any worldly traveler would do: go to an American style steakhouse and participate in their burger challenge.
Location: Yasmine's Steakhouse in Pudong.
What: 2 kg burger loaded with three fried eggs, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers on a sesame bun; fries.
Time Limit: 2 hours.
Reward if plate is finished: get my 138¥ back and my name on their Wall of Fame.
End result: At the 95th minute, with just the bottom bun left, I gave up. Let's just say I didn't have that big fat smile on my face anymore.
I’ve never felt unsafe in Shanghai, but it’s never been because of the presence of our campus security guards. In fact, every weekend night that I return home late, I don’t even need to search around for my student ID to enter my dorm building. I can simply pull open the unlocked door, snicker at the security guard passed out on the lobby couch, and casually make my way to my room.
With a speech contest, two research papers, two presentations, a case study, and never-ending Chinese homework and tests, I’ve been busy and stressed out these past few weeks, but I’ve really gotten a lot out of my work. Just to be able to talk intelligently about China from a social, political, or economic standpoint after just a semester of study feels to me like a real accomplishment.
My longest paper was about China’s music production and distribution industry. I’ll just leave you with some funny bits I came across in my research:
Music piracy in China has been extremely prevalent ever since the music industry first emerged. Right from the get-go, consumers were illegally downloading single-track MP3 files on the Internet with little perception of the song’s musical genre or the artist’s style. Whereas in the United States fans’ identities tend to reflect a musical genre to which they are loyal, Chinese fans, on the other hand, do not have this same concept of music classification. No two elements of Chinese young people's identities seem to be consistent. One author described walking into a Shanghai bar and encountering a young Chinese woman who, with her messy hair, black eye shadow, and torn clothes, looked like the stereotypical punk rock fan. When the man asked her to name her favorite band, she passionately exclaimed "Backstreet Boys".
The Chinese government, in its effort to closely monitor public entertainment, requires that foreign bands submit their lyrics to the state before participating in a music festival in China. Some California punk band once sent in Billy Joel lyrics.
The 2004 season finale of SuperGirl, a reality television singing competition, was watched by about 400 million people. So many mobile votes were sent in to the show that the government freaked out and prevented the show from ever happening in the same format. Apparently, the one-party state system couldn’t handle the idea of a democratically decided pop show.
Even before I came to China, I had read about Shanghai’s ‘marriage market’, an outdoor gathering of Shanghai residents all hoping to find their soul mates, or, quite often, soul mates for their children. It wasn’t until this past Sunday that I finally got to experience the frenzy of Chinese matchmaking firsthand. Walls of flyer after flyer telling about candidates' credentials confined the area, where hundreds of people excitedly discussed their romantic prospects. It was truly a sight to see.
Let me just go ahead and say it: I ate dog the other day. Yes, I have two dogs at home that I love very much, but, I mean, I also like chickens, pigs, and cows. I don’t really see the big deal. I’m not a monster. I’m not going to go home and eat my dogs. I just wanted to try it and put an end to my curiosity. Dog meat, upon review, has a nice texture; it reminded me of pulled pork but a little chewier perhaps, and the meat was nicely complemented with stir-fried vegetables and chili peppers. I was really enjoying the dish until I started hearing noises in my head of my dogs whimpering. That kind of ruined the whole experience for me.