It was 9:35 PM when I arrived at Jiangnan University. We were at the international student apartments. The drive from Shanghai airport to Wuxi city was a smooth and quiet journey. I didn’t have to worry about giving directions to my Chinese driver because he was already pre-instructed and was given details from my school adviser in Jiangnan. There was no problem at all until we reached my apartment. I looked out the window, the surrounding was pitch black. I squinted my eyes a little and I could make out benches spread out all around the courtyard. Across from the courtyard was my apartment. It was a 12-story building, which was lit up. Giving its surrounding a nice glow. I opened the door and got out of the taxi. I needed to pay my driver, I suddenly had a brain freeze and forgot how to say “how much is it” in Mandarin. “Laoba, how much should I pay” , I said. Desperately hoping he could understand me just a little bit. “我不明白“, he said scratching his head. “等待一分钟，而我叫你的教授“, he said again and went into his taxi and started making a call. I stood there waiting for a miracle to happen. I assumed he was making a call to my advisor. I was seriously wishing I had my Google translator at that moment. I looked around me, the campus looked so beautiful at night. Most of the buildings were lit up and they were all very tall. A few feet from my taxi a guy with a plain white t-shirt and blue jeans walked towards me. “Do you need any help?”, he asked. The first thing that came out of my mouth was, “can you speak Mandarin?”, I asked hurriedly. “Yes, moderately”, he said. “Can you please communicate with my driver and ask him what the price is”, I asked. I watched him as he walked up to my driver, “您好，我帮助这个学生了。她想知道多少价格？“, he asked my driver. The price was 550 Yuan. It was settled, my driver was heading back. “Xiè Xiè!” (thank you!), I yelled at the top of my lungs waving at my driver. The guy with the white shirt and blue jeans helped me with my luggage. “Thank you for helping me with the driver, what is your name?”, I asked. “Kwame”, he said. “Where are you from?”, he asked me. “United states”, I replied. “I am from Ghana”, he said to me. We walked into the lobby of the International apartment with all of my belongings……………………………
The next day I woke up feeling fresh. The view from my window was incredible. I could see the city of Wuxi with all its tall buildings and busy roads. I climbed down from my bed. My bed was a few feet up. Underneath was a nice little study desk and a chair, with cupboards on both side’s of the desk. My luggage were everywhere. It took me an hour or two to arrange my belongings properly in my room. My room was moderate sized with a bathroom on the left side of the entrance. I quickly went to the bathroom took a shower and dressed up. The IE (the apartment staff) had informed me that I arrived very early and that most students weren’t around. Kwame had volunteered to take me around the school and help me get some school suppliers. “thuud, thudd”, I heard a knock on the door. “I’m coming!”, I yelled. It must be Kwame……………………………..
We decided to walk to the convenient store which was a few minutes’ walk to get some important things like a router and internet cord before we head to the big mall to buy some groceries. As we walked along campus Kwame pointed at different buildings explaining what was what. He also explained to me that when it comes to laundry, that after we wash our clothes in the washing machine, we have to spread it on rod cords tied on both sides on the rooftop. “It’s been so long since I ever did something like that”, I thought to myself. It reminded me of my childhood days back in Nigeria…………………….
We were about to head to the mall. “Let me get the keys to my E-bike”, Kwame said. “E-bike???”, I asked myself. Before I knew it Kwame was driving out of the apartment lobby with a motorcycle. “Hope on!”, he said. “You’re crazzy”, I said to him. He laughed out loud. In America, people that had bikes like this weren’t regular people. I didn’t know how I felt about riding a motor bike. I hopped in the bike. Vanguard mall wasn’t that far from the campus…………………..
The mall had two floors. The first floor was stocked with food supplies. On the right side was where all the fresh fish, meat, chicken and all that. On the left side was all the packaged goods.” 我们有肉和牛肉在这一侧“,a seller said to a customer. I walked up to the escalator, that takes you to the second floor. Everything that wasn’t food was up there. Stationeries, beddings, kitchen supplies, e.t.c. I walked around picking up stuff that I thought I needed. I turned my head to answer the lady calling for my attention. “我们有非常好的床上用品在这里。你喜欢这个吗？“, the lady said to me. She was trying to get me to buy some of her beddings. “Búshì xiè xiè”(No, thank you), I said to her.After taking me a few minutes to put everything I needed upstairs, I went back downstairs to check out the food supplies. I didn’t want to buy too much because I just needed a week’s worth of food before I register and get my bank and meal card. As soon I was done, I was already starving. “I don’t remember having breakfast”, I thought to myself…………..
I dined in the cute little Chinese restaurant seen above. I walked up to the counter. “你好，你会喜欢吃什么？“, the owner said to me with a big smile on her face. The menu was in Mandarin, so I had no idea what to order. I had Kwame order for me. I had to make sure he orders something that had no pork (because I don’t eat pork). I find it so hard choosing restaurants to eat in because they mix pork in everything. Fortunately, I found something to eat that evening…………………………..
I was about to have my first meal in China. I looked at my tray and picked up my chopsticks. I held the chopsticks awkwardly ( I had never really used chopsticks to eat back home, I remember my roommate always using chopsticks). “I need to buy one and practice how to use it”, I thought to myself. By the time Kwame and I were done it was already getting dark, so we decided to head back to the Apartment……………………………..
To be continued………………………………….