One week in Ji’nan

Ok, so it’s now been more like two weeks since I arrived, and this post might be more accurately named “Week One in Ji’nan”. However, I’m leaving the title of this post as it is, in memory of an epic post I wrote last weekend, which I managed to lose, after learning the hard way that WordPress on mobile doesn’t have the same auto-save feature.

Considering the fact that I arrived here with a tickly cough and broken laptop, and I’m still using my phone to write this (hence the lack of updates), and still checking the air quality index each morning (due to said cough/ general asthma fun) it initially appears as though I haven’t made much progress.

Yet, the fact that I have come to like this place, pollution and all, is a real testimony to some of the people that I’ve met. On top of that, the city is really quite a pleasant place. There is no metro, but this is the capital of Shandong province, there are plenty of cheap and regular buses and taxis. The weather has been on the cold side, but it’s not wet, and some days have been exceptionally sunny and warm for spring, feeling more like the British summer!

There are lakes, mountains, and an old style food-street. Night markets, and street sellers, and amazingly inexpensive places to eat (I wouldn’t go quite as far as calling all of them restaurants as recognised in western Europe).

So that’s the general introduction. Then there’s the specifics; there is an old man who sits with his caged birds at the end of my street. When he saw me inspecting a particularly bright green bird with winged eyes, he whistled, and the bird sung a reply. I’ve already been to two birthday meals, both involving the singing of Happy Birthday in at least three languages. I’ve spoken with people from Korea, Japan, Russia, Mexico, Ecadour, Iran, China, Kenya, India, Spain, Italy, and obviously the UK. I’ve spoken French, Hindi, Mandarin and English in the past week.

I’ve eaten locusts, Korean and Japanese confectionary (Ji’nan has a huge Korean sub-culture, being located opposite the Korean peninsula, and with 90% of international students at my Chinese uni being Korean). I’ve tried so many different styles of Chinese food, wraps, hotpot, malatang, noodle soup. I’m still waiting to try Ji’nan’s specialty, Huang men chicken!

I’ve become used to eating baozi for breakfast, and going to one of the chaotic campus canteens for lunch. I’m still learning to use chopsticks the proper way, but I can get by. What I really can’t wait for is for my spoken Mandarin to get good enough to have meaningful conversations. Watch this space.

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7 thoughts on “One week in Ji’nan

  1. It sounds absolutely wonderful Nikita and I am so pleased that you are happy there. I feel quite envious of the sights and experiences you are getting. It’s also great to meet so many different nationalities and cultures in the same area. I think that you are going to be happy there so make the most of it darling.

    Nanny
    x x x

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    1. Nah, there are three cages, each with one bird in. The cages are hung from balconies and buildings, when the weather is good, so that the birds and their owners can socialise. Old people keep songbirds as pets, for company.

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  2. What fantastic news and experiences. Sounds like this start is a bit more enjoyable than previous adventure. I love the way you express your experiences. It helps to paint a very pale but useful picture of your adventures. Looking forward to the next update. Xxx

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