Born in China, raised in America, Lucy Yu talks with Shanghai Squared about her experience returning here to study. We sit down for some Xiao Long Bao in her favourite student hangout adjacent to Fudan University.
Where are we and why have you brought us here?
You know, I don’t even know what this place is called but it’s a student favourite Xiao Long Bao place: mini dumplings with soup in them cooked in bamboo. It’s super busy everyday during lunch and dinner.
How often do you come here?
Everyday, I’m not even kidding. I’ve come twice a day too!
What are you studying here in China?
I’m on the Education Abroad program from the University of California system. This program at Fudan is called the Join Program in International Studies (JPIS)…so all my classes are regarding globalisations, SINO-US relations but there are also language classes I can take.
How does student life here compare to back home in Berkeley?
I feel like I’m in a little bubble (here) because I’m taking all my classes with fellow exchange students from California. But, there is one class I really enjoy, History of Ancient Chinese Thought, because there are local students as well as mixed exchange students from other Chinese universities.
Tell me about your link to China?
I was born in Huangzhou and moved to the United States when I was four and a half. Being Chinese American made it a lot easier coming back. I’ve been visiting China every two or three years since I was a teenager so I don’t get a cultural shock.
The fact that I’m Chinese-American makes the transition easier but it’s still not used to the culture. What’s different about this trip, being a four-month exchange program, is that my tolerance has gone down. Before I would just let it go if someone cut in line but now I don’t. I can’t tolerate the inconsideration, the sheer number and the lack of civility sometimes.
Do you think it’s a right of passage for American-Chinese students to come study here?
I do think it’s a very popular but not everyone’s into it, and it’s definitely not a right of passage. I identify pretty closely with my Chinese heritage and I love China and Chinese people despite my annoyances sometimes. They look like me and when I’m around here I feel comfortable, that’s why I came back.
Has your impression of Chinese students changed?
I always thought that Chinese students were super super studious. But when I go to the library, the few times I go to, they aren’t that studious: they’re taking naps, on websites they shouldn’t be or texting. They aren’t as essentially studious as I thought they’d be.
I think in general, Chinese college students’, especially those who are at Fudan, workload is a lot less than their high school workload. So they have a lot more leisure time compared to how hard they worked to get into Fudan.
No. 3, 485 Guoding Road
(near Zhengtong Road)
Metro: Tongji University (Line 10)