We arrived in Qingdao after a three-hour flight from Hong Kong on a cool airline called Dragonair. Their seats are upholstered in blue leopard skin, which I found hilarious, and the service is phenomenal.
As soon as we landed we had a taste of the swine flu craze in China…two men, dressed entirely in white and wearing face masks marched to the back of the plane, one through each aisle. We were told to sit and wait. They finally arrive at our seats and, without saying a word, point thermometers that look like laser guns at our heads! We also had to fill out a bunch of forms. When we finally walked into the gate we saw the line we would have to stand in…HUGE. Not for immigration, but to turn in swine flu forms and have our temperatures taken again. After that, we would be able to go through immigration.
After a looong while, we cleared both stops and were able to exit. Waiting outside for us was Chase, the intern assigned to us. He is awesome, always helpful and kind. We rode a van to the university, left our bags, reunited with two of our classmates that had been traveling around China, and went out into the town with Chase as our guide. He took us to a yummy dumpling restaurant
and then to Carrefour, one of the supermarkets here. He stayed with us for about 2 hours while we gathered everything we needed to live here! We even got phones and SIM cards. The next day we had our opening ceremony and our Chinese placement test. After that we went on a tour of the city, with Chase as our guide again, and it was the rainiest, foggiest day possible. We still had a lot of fun and got to know the Olympic Sailing Center and May 4th Square, two popular areas of the city.
That night we attended a welcome dinner in which we were asked to sing random songs. Every school had to do it, some (like us) several times! We met our Chinese teachers and they were both very nice.
We also went on a field trip to the Beijing Opera here in Qingdao. It was in a small space and we watched a sampling of the usual performances. Even though it was only a few parts, it lasted around three hours! The costumes were amazing. The adornments on them were so intricate and beautiful. The singing was a bit shrill and there was an incessant metallic clanging accompanying it, but other than that it was very interesting.
There are restaurants with many different cuisines available in the city. So far we’ve tried various Chinese foods, Korean, and Vietnamese (which was FANTASTIC)
and at almost every restaurant the most each person pays is about $5…for a lot of very delicious food!
The nightlife scene is great, despite stories we heard about Qingdao being boring. We went to a nightclub called Feeling which has a hydraulic dance floor that bounces when you dance on it! We, of course, proceeded to jump up and down on it before it filled up with more clubgoers, mostly Chinese.
The next day we visited the Tsingtao Beer Brewery and Museum.
We toured the facilities where the beer is produced and bottled/canned, and received free samples of the raw beer. They also have an attraction called “The Drunken House.” It is a space that you go into and have the feeling of being drunk!
We bought a lot of cool souvenirs at the Tsingtao shop. We found great hats, bottle openers (even one that you place on top of the bottle and hit on its top to uncap the bottle!), and even personalized bottles of Tsingtao beer!
Once we finished our tour of the brewery we decided to stay in the area and have lunch. The area it’s in is called Taidong, and it happens to be one of the biggest outdoor markets that we were yearning to find. The scene is amazing…myriad street vendors just set up their booths in the middle of the area. It’s like a labyrinth of veeeery cheap clothing, shoes, electronics, bath supplies, you name it! It just beckons for you to come in and bargain with the vendors.
It also happens to be the area where my friend Chris and I practice Gong Fu (not Kung Fu, as we mistakenly say it).
And finally, we found what would become one of our main hangout places, Le Bang. It is a French expatriate bar/restaurant/dance club that has a foosball table, fun dance music, and yummy food. There we met a lot of people, including a couple of Chinese girls who speak English fluently. We exchanged numbers to make plans for the following weekends (and Wednesday nights, more on that later!).
Aside from our Qingdao social life, I like the school a lot. Our Mandarin classes are very good. We have four hours every day, two with each of our teachers. It definitely helps to study it every day rather than only twice a week, and to be exposed to the language everywhere we go. On Tuesdays we have Taiji (taichi) class, on Wednesdays a marketing class that we dislike (we feel like we’re not learning anything…) and on Fridays we have a culture class, the first few of which will be Chinese calligraphy, very cool! 🙂
View all articles by Deborah Zinn.