Campus Life as we see it

An assortment of impressions of life at Nanjing University

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:24 am

 

 

Our lodging is at the far end of Nanjing University campus.  The campus is divided into the dormitory area for the students (and we live in this part of campus) and the academic and teaching area.  Hankou Road runs through the middle of campus and divides the two sections.  Several times a day we walk through the dorms and see the students going about their daily lives.

This campus of Nanjing University is for post-graduate study, so all the students have completed their undergraduate degrees.  There are a couple of very big dormitories--10 stories or more--but most are 3 or 4 stories high.  Cici tells us that she shares a room with 6 other girls.  The dorm is neither heated or air conditioned, and has only cold water.  If the students want hot water, they go to a central area (morning and evening) and collect a large thermos of hot water to take back to their room.  During the day, the thermoses sit along various walkways and walls,  like cheerful colored sentinals.  (I need to purchase a device to upload my pictures--stay tuned for visuals.) 

Today, the sun is shining for the first time since we arrived in China.  As a result, it is wash day.  Almost every window in the dorms is festooned with laundry, and the wash lines between the dorms are lined with quilts and blankets out to air.  I doubt there is a washing machine in any of the dorms, but there are a few establishments on and near campus that do washing.  Cici says most students launder by hand to save money.

The dorms also don't have showers, but there are shower houses on campus. In the evening we watch the students head to the bath house with their buckets of toiletries.  Afterwards, some of the girls head back to the dorms in their pajamas, and the others have on fresh clothes.  There is a barber and hair cutting place just next to the bath house and they also do a lively business in the evening.  We think about all the amenities our students have in the dorms and are amazed by the difference in this post-graduate student life from a Grinnell undergrad's experience.

Our usual path through campus takes us past the back loading dock for the cafeteria.  This morning they were unloading vegetables and fresh fish.  The fish was so fresh that many of them were flopping about in their tubs, and at one point a number of eels (or what looked like eels), made a break for it and were working their way down the steps.  Since the mighty Yangtze is miles away, I fear their cause was hopeless and they are likely all lunch by now.

We've noticed that Nanjing students dress quite conservatively.  Jeans are the dominant uniform, though more shorts and skirts have been in evidence with the return of the sun.  Skirts are usually worn with hose, and many young women wear a sweater or a jacket as a kind of professional attire, no matter how warm it gets.  Bare legs and shoulders are unusual, though as the temperatures start to climb, we'll see if that holds true. 

The campus is wonderfully green and leafy and very well policed.  There is little trash and we seeing groundskeepers trimming the hedges daily.  They do not, however, have the American fetish with lawn mowing and the grass is allowed to get quite long.  All the major pathways are fully shaded by sycamore trees (as are many of the boulevards in the city), and there are lots of little parks scattered about campus. Even though the campus is densely built and the buildings often look a little decrepit on the outside, the greenery makes it very appealing.

Our final impression is that the cleaning staff here loves to wash floors.  Just about every time we go to the lobby, someone is either sweeping or mopping the floor.  Streets are cleaned regularly, paths swept, and stairs kept free of debris.  With so many feet crossing surfaces all the time, we are glad of this dedication to surface scouring!