No chance for social media!
In China, many social media websites are shut down. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, all the everyday social media channels you use – you don’t have access.
There are VPN’s to reach social media websites. There are times when the Chinese government controls access to social media more closely. And at specific times, where they do not control that much, everyone went online and wrote messages on Facebook, watched pictures on Instagram, used Twitter.
When Trump was elected, nothing worked. No one came through to Facebook or Youtube and it took ages to load a website until you could read a message.
You cannot read all the international newspapers online. Zeitonline works, but the New York Times was recently locked. You cannot even download the app in China, because it was blocked by the Chinese government.
Surveillance or protection?
There were cameras everywhere in the student residence, in the corridor, in the elevators, and our student house was surrounded by an electric fence. We had two security gates, one outside the fence and then just in front of the student residence. We had to show our ID to the guards and proof that we were living there.
In the beginning, I thought it would be for our protection, but there was one more thing:
When we got home after midnight, we had to write our name on a list. Room number, time (we got home), name. It’s been said, that they want to see who goes to university the next day. I do not know if that’s true.
There are security checks in the subway. It’s like at the airport, you put your bag on the tape and they X-ray it.
I bought a kitchen knife and did not think about it. I was, of course, asked to stop and answer why I bought a knife and what I want to do with it.
Eventually, I had to take the bus home because
I was not allowed to take a kitchen knife on the subway.
In the first months I always had my bag checked. But then I was with a friend from Germany, and she just ran through. I stopped her and asked if she did not have to have her bag checked. And she said “Nope, they don’t care” and from that moment on I simply walked through.
If I had big backpacks, I had my backpack checked, but that does not matter. They ask you to put your bag on the band, but they will also let you keep walking if you do not want to.
One time my mosquito spray was taken away, because the Securities said that “inflammable” was written on it.
When we drove back to Shanghai, one of us was stopped because she had nail polish in her bag. This contains alcohol. But we were able to pass.
It seems to me as if Chinese are making up rules when
and how they want to, but they do not stick to them.
It’s like that, sometimes. You cannot rely on the rules.
Memorizing as the ultimate
There are also differences in the school and university system, the way they teach you. In China it is not about understanding, but about memorizing. We had texts that we just had to memorize. The teachers did not care whether we understood it or not. We just had to speak the word without knowing what it means.
Conclusion: Why longer stays abroad are so important
This sounds very negative now, but it is not. I liked it.
In the beginning I found the food really interesting, but then came the low. After that, however, there were days when things went up and down.
Overall, it was a great experience! I learned a lot.
The language and I know now that I can adapt quickly to other cultures, in China this worked well. It was a valuable experience for me.
Of course there are also nice people there! Not everyone is rude. Our teachers, for example, were quite nice.
In any case, I have learned to appreciate Germany more. I used to complain about the data speed and that the Internet is too slow. But in China it was almost impossible to get through. That’s why I appreciate it more, friendliness of people and people keep distance.
I am now also more conscious about this and pay close attention to how people deal with me. For example at the cash desk or in the service.
Would I do it again? I guess so!
I would even go to China again.
The language is just great!
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