A great aspect of the I5 program is that they integrate lessons in Chinese culture with the prescribed business classes. A young Chinese woman named Dorothy came to speak with us on Monday about modern Chinese art. The room was warm but the thunder booming outside the open windows kept about half the students awake. The artists Dorothy showed the class all used interpretive methods to explain their inner struggle with language and culture. Although the lesson was interesting overall, everyone was having a hard time appreciating the art work.
After a long day sitting in class and breathing in the summer smells of the Shanghai streets, relaxing in the comfort of air conditioning is often a welcome relief at the end of the day.
Despite the many nightlife opportunities calling to students, many find it more enjoyable to rest up during the evenings. American movies sometimes find their way on one of the two English channels offered at the Shanghai Pearl Hotel. Four or five students gather around to view "Save the Last Dance" or a cheesy 80s movie laced with dramatic fight scenes.
Around 7 or 8 p.m. darkness brings on a slight evening cool, and the search for a dinner spot begins. If your sense of adventure kicks in, picking a restaurant at random and pointing to unidentifiable Chinese characters on a menu can prove an interesting dining experience. For the newcomers, handling chopsticks causes a mountain of trouble. The waitress serves the wonton soup, and now the pressure is on. The Chinese locals turn and grin as they watch you stab at the slippery food with plastic sticks.
After dinner, the hotel again becomes a sanctuary, offering a quiet getaway from heat, lights and smog.