Lucy: When a drunk woman cried in my lap because her husband was cheating on her while I was waiting for the bathroom at Babyface. Another time when my friend got beat got the s*** kicked out of him outside a bar for trying to break up an argument between some drunk NYU idiots, and drunk Chinese idiots.
Bram: I got into a car accident in the beginning of my second semester in Shanghai. My friend and I got into an accident in a Taxi on the highway and we both were't wearing seat belts, luckily I walked away with only stitches on my lips and my boyfriend cracked the windshield with his head. I guess this is my least favorite memory because it could've been my last. But I got a good piece of writing out of it.
What advice would you give to someone studying abroad in Shanghai?
Lucy: I would say definitely come with an open mind, almost as if you're going to everything like it's that scenic destination, without any prejudice. But at the same time, you're going to run into many situations where people have preconceived judgments of you, so in order to overcome those uncomfortable and awkward moments, you have to kind of put yourself in their shoes, so you can give them something new to take home. Meeting you is probably going to be a story that they're going to tell to their friends and family. Like, taking a picture of you at KTV is a moment for them to either reinforce, or create a new idea of outsiders. So if you're f******* drunk off your ass at KTV, screaming at a waiter for bringing you Jack Daniels and iced tea instead of Jack and Coke, you are contributing to America's name being tainted forever.
Bram: I would try to get out of the NYU bubble and try to make friends with either people from NYU who are willing to get out of the bubble with you, or with Chinese people from the city. You'll be able to learn a lot about China and Chinese people's perspectives on America. It helps you understand the country on both a macro and a micro level. Especially if you get to understand one person to see how different their perspectives are on many different levels. It will also make the experience richer and more meaningful. A few ways to go about that if you're shy is to use all the resources offered at NYU in Shanghai such as the English corners or tea talks. The student life and faculty members are always encouraging students to reach out to local Chinese students to exchange cultural and social experiences with each other. (P.S. go to KTV with Patty!)
What are your plans for returning to Shanghai?
Lucy: I'll be going there this summer for a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a full-time forensics advisory associate. My next big challenge is to try and pass all seven CICPA exams within the next four years. God help me.
Bram: I went back for Spring Break this year. In the future I don't have any specific plans yet but I'd like to find time to go back because I have friends there that I'd like to visit. I don't have any plans yet to go back for a long period of time, but I would like to visit, maybe just for a few weeks. I'm sure that some random combination of circumstances in my life will bring me back there at some point, perhaps I will attend Lucy's wedding. Also I'm starting a new project called the "SAVE LUCY FOUNDATION" to raise money for a plane ticket to bring you home to America.
Bram, why did you go back for a second semester?
Bram: I think it was because I really enjoyed having a small/intimate community for a college experience that you don't normally get at NYU in New York. All the classes were small and you were able to get to know your professors.
There wan't a lot of bureaucracy at NYU Shanghai and you could almost instantly reach out to whoever you had questions for. I also wanted to continue learning Chinese and I had friends in Shanghai who I wanted to continue to learn from and gain experiences from. I enjoyed being an expat, and it almost felt like being on vacation although I was in school.
Also, being in Shanghai for another semester really created a deeper impression and understanding of China. One semester's time goes by extremely fast in comparison to a year and it becomes a lot more meaningful when you invest that much time in it. You even create a relationship with another part of the world that you otherwise might just consider a place you once "visited" for just a few months.
What were the main differences between the two semesters?
Bram: I felt more "Chinese" the second time around. I felt like a lot of the initial get to know Shanghai kind of things were not as foreign to me. I didn't have to adjust to everything again and I felt like I could hit the ground running. But at the same time, it made me feel a little distant from the students in the new semester because I didn't connect with them on the same level. My life in Shanghai was continuing while theirs were just beginning.
What did you notice about the differences between China and America?
Bram: What was weird was that somethings that would be very hard to accomplish in China would be very easy in America, and vice-versa.
In both countries there is so much bureaucracy and red tape but what was interesting is that each country has an entirely different set of priorities for what the red tape is set up for. In America, there is a lot of social expectations from how you order something to how you stand in line to how people in a crowd will move amongst each other. But there's also a lot of political freedom and no censorship. Meanwhile, in China people will just push and shove, line behavior is ridiculous, but there is red tape over censorship. So you almost have to completely switch what you take for granted, like sandwiches. But then, certain things that you expect to be very hard, like buying alcohol, are very easy, too easy…
*The notion of Intellectual Property theft is employed here with humorous intent only. zaiShanghai assures you that no actual Intellectual Property was harmed in the creation of this blog post. Neither Bram Schumer, Lucy Wang nor anyone associated with zaiShanghai approves of or recommends purchasing pirated software in Shanghai.
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