Tonight was one of my favorite nights in China by far. I want to start by saying that having Family in China is awesome. It allows for an experience like no other. I have a connection to a home away from home. It automatically brings me huge joy knowing I have relatives in Shanghai and Suzhou to welcome me anytime.
My roommate Samantha and I ventured to the other side of Shanghai today to visit our friend from home, Abigail, who is studying at Fudan University. We navigated ourselves through the metro station pretty successfully (after getting on the wrong line, of course, but that only made us arrive 3 stops later than expected). It was neat to have the three of us together from USC exploring around Shanghai. Abigail showed us around her campus and shared her China stories. Although I toured Fudan campus with family three years ago, I didn’t realize how big it is! Fudan University compared to Shanghai University is much larger.
I texted Zhu Lin, my aunt, and let her know I was at Fudan campus, near where my great uncle lives. She sent me his home address through WeChat. After parting ways with Abigail, Sam and I found a taxi to take us to the road where my great uncle lives (Guo Nian Lu). Finding his house was a breeze! I recognized which door it was from visiting in 2012. For some reason I was becoming nervous the closer we got to meeting him in person, even though we had met in person several times before. Maybe it was a mixture of excitement and language barrier anxiety.
We walked in the door and I said “Ni hao! Wo shi Zhu Aihua.” I heard a “Ni hao” from my great uncle. He was still on the phone with my grandfather, who was informing him that I was on my way. So I ended up speaking to my grandfather on the phone a bit. My great uncle and I warmly greeted one another and I introduced Sam as my roommate. His son and daughter came downstairs (who I call my aunt and uncle). My aunt’s reaction to seeing me made me laugh. She looked at me, turned, and did a double take. It was a pleasant time conversing with them all. My uncle, not great uncle then took us to dinner to his favorite restaurant. He bought us beers and we toasted to “Zhong guo”, China. Amazingly spontaneous is how I describe my night. He then called my aunt, his sister to pick us up from the restaurant and she dropped us off at the dorm, which saved us about 15 yuan worth of metro fees. I already have plans to meet with them again on Sunday. My aunt and uncle want to pick me up and take me around Shanghai to places I haven’t been yet. They said I have to have a plan in mind and they’ll take me there and I can bring one friend. Time to do some research of places I’ve yet to see! Sunday at 1:00 we will meet them to further explore. I cannot wait!
Sam is better at listening and comprehending Chinese than me so she was able to translate for me here and there if I couldn’t understand. Even though I have to practice and learn more, it’s amazing how I’ve progressed from speaking no Chinese with them to communicating back and forth with them like I have. Sam recommended that I watch mandarin dramas, which will improve my listening comprehension skills. I know what I’m doing when I get back!
From what my family has told me, my great uncle was famous in China 40 years ago when he was president of Fudan University, and a leader in the Shanghai city government during the Cultural Revolution. He has written many books, one of which was given to the recent president of China, 习近平 Xi Jinping. He even keeps up with a personal blog. I would love to learn more about my Uncle’s impact and the Cultural Revolution.