March 3, 2016, by Danny Bav
5 HUGE differences between Ningbo and the UK
Ever since arriving in Ningbo, I feel like I’ve been hit by a whirlwind of things to do from sorting out my modules, to joining societies and generally just trying to figure out my way around the campus. However, I can safely say that after three weeks, I’m finally settling down in Ningbo and becoming accustomed to life over here. As you’d expect though, there were some really strange surprises and below are some of my favourite!
Ningbo brags an amazing 7,639,000 people (from the 2012 census) which is over 10 times more than Nottingham. I laughed when my Lithuanian friends told me that Ningbo has x3 more people than their country. There’s a whole load of shopping malls, places to eat, and unique hotspots which make Ningbo a great place to explore.
2.) KTV instead of clubbing?
So when I got here all the international students were ready to go out clubbing straight away from day one, but then we discovered the magical world of KTV (Karaoke).
My first KTV experience in China involved a large group of us squeezing into taxis and making our way to a quite shady looking place where we strolled up to the counter and asked if we could book a room. The KTV rooms were cheap, roughly about £15 for 4 hours for a group of around 12 of us. We got into the room and we were presented with lights, microphones, a huge TV, seats and a karaoke machine where we were free to play any songs we liked – you can be sure there were some really cheesy western songs on there! We got back to campus at 6am and although sleepy the next day, I made some great friends and it was an experience I’d happily repeat all over again.
The first shop I went to was a large superstore (much like Asda or Walmart) and I ended up buying a whole load of things I needed for my room… well I thought I needed them. To my surprise, my whole bundle costed 300 yuan, roughly £30 for something that would probably cost about £60-70 in the UK. I was so surprised, but the theme continued, especially back on campus where I can buy a whole dinner for 9 yuan – roughly £1. However, it did come at a small cost… because everything was a lot cheaper I found myself spending a lot more recklessly because I still had the mindset of “ah, everything is so cheap here!”
Perhaps I should cut down a little…
“You can go to the barber shop on campus… but only before halloween” – a guy I met who told me to venture outside of campus to get a haircut.
I admit, I put off a haircut for as long as possible as I was scared at the fact that I would have to go and speak Chinese and ask them for my haircut. What if they cut all my hair off? What if they didn’t understand? This morning I did it and it was such a different experience (as a guy). In the UK you walk in, tell them what you want and have it cut and leave. Here, I was greeted with a drink before they washed and massaged my hair. I then had it cut, before it being washed again and blow dried. The price? 25 Yuan (roughly £3). It was a pleasant experience, a lot different from the UK which caught me off guard, but now I don’t feel as nervous next time I want to get it cut. 🙂
Okay, you might be thinking surely this one is obvious right? Well, initially I thought as it was Nottingham University in Ningbo, they would at least speak English on the campus since all the lectures are taught in English. Well, I had a surprise when going into any of the shops or canteens on campus and none of them speaking a word of English. Even ordering food cannot be done in English which gives me a perfect excuse to practice my Mandarin in a real environment.
For my non-Mandarin speaking friends? They’ve loved the challenge! Often resorting to pointing to things and acting things out – they found some creative ways around the language barriers and have even picked up basic Mandarin. For example, it’s quite easy to order in a restaurant when all you have to do is point at pictures and say 我要这个。。。 （wǒ yào zhè ge) I want this!
Overall, it’s been an awesome experience and I look forward to updating you guys on my journey!
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