Today was the first day of class. One class lasted three hours and fifteen minutes. It’s a bit brutal but perhaps it’s the only way to fit a full term in less than a month. Day one was quite straightforward and gave a nice sense of the diversity of the class (mixed first year, second year and exchange students).
Over the past week, I’ve explored a bit. I went to an ex-pat bar to watch what was scheduled to be the BCS national championship game. Though #1 played #2, I think it’s safe to say that the top two teams in the nation were not playing one another that day. I’ll allow other bloggers to dissect the BCS though. The bar was packed with expats and though it was expensive by what I’ve set as my Shanghai standards, I got a nice meal and a few beers for just over twenty bucks. I’ll admit that I needed a full meal as I’d been living off of clementines, toast and lamb pitas from my favorite street food guy. While my neighborhood is full of great looking restaurants, I don’t think saying hello and thank you in mandarin will necessarily get me what I want. I’ll get there though.
The highlight of my week was a visit to the newly opened Power Station of Art. Formerly a functioning electric power station, the place had a great layout, incredibly eclectic exhibits (some not to my liking) and a nice view of the Shanghai Expo. My absolute favorite exhibit was a video called “The Way Things Go.” A thirty-minute Rube Goldberg style sequence using water, fire and various other chemical reactions, the video was mesmerizing. I found a shorter version online and definitely recommend you take a look if you like that sort of thing. The artists are Peter Fischli and David Weiss of Switzerland.
Still, my favorite spectacle of Shanghai (better than the massive grocery store selling pig snouts and cleaned by mini floor Zambonis) is the metro. While I’m not fond of the nail clipping, spitting, nose picking and snot rocketing I’ve observed, the efficiency amazes me. Boarding an empty train at rush hour is like a professional musical chairs match. Once the doors open, all seats are filled within a second and dismayed slowpokes skid to a halt in front of the seats they didn’t quite claim. Just yesterday I witnessed a brief but serious footrace between two old ladies when a seat opened up. Nobody vacated a seat for the loser but maybe that’s a cultural thing I’ll learn sooner or later.
That’s all for now.