Everyday life as foreign student in China – Part 2: weekends

Did you miss Part 1? Just click here to discover about weekdays!

» Weekends

Weekend starts on Friday at 12:00 AM. The bell rings, you close the book even if the teacher is asking you to finish the excercise and you try to invite some koreans join your meal, but they have something else to do. As usual.

By 12:10 you are on your way to the best canteen (because weekends have to be celebrated the best way you can) speaking about weekend plans. It’s weekend!, so you can eat some more than regular days and you buy a huge cup of noodles soup with meat, potatoes, tofu, rice and all kinds of vegetables. Then you help other people finish their meals and, since your chinese friends are joining you, you decide it’s nice to eat some ice cream. You leave the canteen feeling like a rolling ball.

The plans are: “We are going downtown for some shopping, but we also have to study, so we are leaving by 4:00 PM”. You enter your room and say the magical sentence: «I will lie down in bed just for 20 minutes, then I will revise the grammar». Your roommate agrees, but she’s a diligent student, already working on her dissertation. At 3:30 you are still lying on your bed pretending that your desk is not covered in textbooks, but it’s Friday afternoon, you don’t want to study anymore and come on, you are in China once in a lifetime!, you just can’t stay in your room all the time.

By 6:00 PM you’re done with your shopping and you start worrying about your biggest problem: what to eat. You have been thinking about chuanr for the whole week, but your friend would rather go to a proper restaurant. Someone complaints that restaurant is too expensive, and you agree just because you want to eat chuanr so bad. But they’re made of meat and fish and you have a vegetarian mate. Someone suggests to stay in the city centre and look for something different, but then you won’t be able to go back by light rail and you don’t feel like spending all that money in a taxi ride. That’s how you end up in a korean restaurant even if no one really wants to eat there. During dinner someone suggests to go to the karaoke, but it’s only you and it won’t be fun. You decide to go there the next day, so you go back to campus willing to watch a movie. When you go to bed at 12:00 PM you didn’t even decide which movie to watch, but you know everything about your friends’ sexual life.

On Saturday you wake up at 8:00 AM because you have lots to do. You have a chinese breakfast in the canteen, you go back for the Saturday Morning Big Room Cleaning and then you study until lunch time. You’d really like to play football with your korean friends, but they forgot to tell you again and you have to study much more than you thought the day before. Afternoon slowly passes by.

You have thought all day long about your plans to go to the karaoke and there’s lots of people to invite, but you just are completely helpless in organizing stuff. It turns out to be 6:00 PM and your mates want to leave the campus at 6:30. You can procrastinate no more: you ask your three chinese friends, your seven korean friends and your mexican friend if they’d like to go eating in half an hour and then to the karaoke, even if you are perfectly aware that eastern people usually have dinner at 5:00 PM and plan their nights out way before Saturday evening. The mexican guy accepts the invitation, your chinese friends already ate but they’re joining you, and it turns out to be your lucky day, since one (1) korean guy didn’t eat already (and you wonder why). Half an hour later, a group made by five italians, a mexican, a korean and three chineses leaves the campus. You will come back at 4:00 AM after a great night.

You wake up four hours later realizing there are only 24 hours left before the mid-term exam.

» How to survive a Saturday night in Changchun – A brief guide

There are not many ways to spend a Saturday night in Nanguan district in Changchun. In fact, you will realize that staying at home with your friends is a great way to have fun on Saturdays – and laziness will get your soul very soon, you won’t feel like going out very often.

Option 1: Stay in campus

The best solution right before exams, or when it’s too cold to go somewhere, or when you’re just too late to go anywhere. Extremely quick to organize, since there would be only you and your two/three best friends and everyone of you would agree. Follow these steps:

  • go to Walmart buying the worst junk food in China;

  • don’t you eat at the canteen!;

  • choose the best room to stay in (and lock the door if needed);

  • eat, chat and laugh until you all fall asleep.

Option 2: Eat out

Trust me, this will become a synonim of “going out on Saturdays”. As autumn turns into winter, food will be your only joy.

  • Pick up some friends;

  • choose a restaurant/a department store/a stall trying to meet everyone’s particular wishes and demands – and that’s not easy in a place where there’s no pizza;

  • bargain the most suitable time with your eastern friends;

  • go and eat as much as you can.

Usually followed by Option 3.

Option 3: karaoke

The typical asian night. Soooo much fun, even for people who are completely hopeless in singing (like me), trust me.

  • Persuade everyone, even the shiest ones, to go to karoke;

  • go, choose the worst songs ever and sing;

  • come back between 1:00 and 4:00 AM willing to never go to bed again.

Option 4: Foreign students party

A very interesting option, since you would have the chance to taste foods and drinks from all over the world, talk with people you never talked to before and discover they think you’re their best friend, and have a real party. It could take maybe two weeks to organize, but it’s worth it.

  • Find a big hall in the campus, possibly in your dorm, and ask the laoshi (“teacher”) in charge of it the permission to stay there (lie about loud music and alcohol if needed);

  • invite everyone by writing a long message in the foreign students’ WeChat group;

  • since you obviously don’t have enough money for food and drinks, bother everyone for at least a week to make them all bring something;

  • clean the hall (it would take one or two hours) and think about how to play music;

  • buy a cake;

  • party hard.

Remember that you will also have to clean the hall again after the party. But it will be much easier than the first big cleaning (and the laoshi and future students will be forever thankful to you).

Well, that’s it, my dear future exchange students in China. Now you know what to expect from your everyday life over there… Except for the fact that you don’t want your life as foreign student to be everyday life. Don’t worry about that, monotonous days don’t exist in China – and maybe that’s not a good thing…


2 thoughts on “Everyday life as foreign student in China – Part 2: weekends

  1. Pingback: 3 + 1 things Europe should import from China – ONE

  2. Dan Manix

    Very interesting. Wonderful detail. Food and eating together is The Center of Everything in my life, too. 50 years ago, I was a student at the University of Wisconsin and when I’d go out to eat or party, there were usually 2 Chinese, a Korean, an African and several from the Middle East. But they all had to speak English. 😊


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