Payment Problems

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This post was originally published in 2008
It may contain stale & outdated information. Or it may have grown more awesome with age, like the author.

Before coming to China I applied for a scholarship to study at a University here. I was successful, and since I came to China have enrolled in a short course at the Shanghai University. Applying was no problem, that was sorted out very quickly. Organising the payment, however, has proved to be more than a little irritating. Yesterday we went to the International Student’s Center with all of the required documents, and asked to pay. There appeared to be only two staff members working, one was busy with an American woman, who had forgotten where she was, and was trying to use English. I thought it was a little funny, as she would ask a question in English, and the man would answer in Chinese. Yet she continued to make requests in English. She became more and more upset, and was crying by the time we left. I don’t know what she was trying to achieve. Anyway, the man we were speaking to told us that we’d have to go to a different office to pay, as the woman who handles payments was out. He was kind enough to accompany us to this office. When we arrived, we were told that the woman wasn’t there either. As we were leaving, we ran into her, and asked if we could please pay my fees. She said that we could, but they only accept cash. This was just great. We were short by only 200å…ƒ. We asked where the nearest ATM machine was, expecting to hear that there was one on-campus. This was not so. The woman told us that the nearest machine was “just up the road.” We thanked her, told her we’d be back soon, and left.

The walk to the ATM machine took at least forty minutes. Not only did it take a long time, it was also quite hazardous. The area is under heavy development, which means areas of leveled rubble, no footpaths (one must walk in the bike lane), and heavy machinery. All of this requires one to have three sets of eyes, as buses don’t slow down, no matter how many people are walking on the side of the road. When we finally arrived at what we thought was the ATM machine the woman was talking about, we found that it was out of service. So we kept walking. We eventually found a working machine, and started the long trek back. I got in trouble for taking photos, as we were apparently in a hurry.

When we arrived at the university, I discovered the reason for our haste – the woman seemingly works thirty-minute shifts, she had gone home. The man we dealt with earlier, while typing an email in Japanese, told us to come back the next day. GREAT!

* * *

Annoyed, we went from the university to town, where we spent some time looking in shops. We had dinner at a Korean restaurant, where I had a glass of Korean Ginseng Whiskey. That whiskey was so strong, it was difficult to drink. Each sip burned my mouth like acid, but I drunk it all. After dinner we went to Pudong, and looked in more shops. Yvonne bought a nice set of formal clothes, so she will be able to win at job interviews. Finding the right set took quite some time. Before going home we had a snack at McDonald’s. I had a “fresh vegetable beef burger,” which is known as a Quarter Pounder in western countries. The only difference is the addition of cucumber.

On the way home I took some photos of welders welding.

On Sunday I start my course, hopefully it is more organised than our first impression leads us to believe.

Edit: course was great.

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