My first week of school in my home and a building near Fudan – Sherry Liao ’23

I am enrolled in the hybrid program provided by Vassar that collaborates with Fudan University. Fudan is a prestigious university in my hometown Shanghai, and my mom graduated from there. We have a photo of the five-year-old me and her standing in front of a rockery on the campus. Naturally and in fact, I was extremely looking forward to experience a semester in this local university, being able to dine in their canteen, hang out with my friends in that area and everything. And thus I was not able to remain excited when I was informed this would all be  improbable due to the Covid-19. We will have no access to Fudan campus and my local friends couldn’t leave their college campus either.

But it’s definitely not that bad to start your sophomore year in your hometown. Everything looks familiar and I do love the place where I’ve grown up very very much. I am able to ride bicycles passing the old city center and feel like it’s still early 1900s. I can also watch musicals, go to private museums, and eat hotpot whenever I feel like it with my mom and my friends again. It’s the good old life for me, when I could spend a whole day alone in the Pudong Library near my house just reading random books that seem to fall into oblivion and dine in different small and cheap restaurants in my neighborhood. I can still play the guitar like I did in my dorm but with an upgraded one much better than the 40-dollar wood that I left in Vassar. And I celebrated my 20th birthday here with my family and a few local friends like I did with almost all my birthdays.


I miss Vassar though. I also miss Poughkeepsie, my friend’s dorm and a few Ramen places in New York, the ice cream shop near Boston College that I used to see my friend in, French Quarter in New Orleans, and many more. With too many artificial lights in Shanghai, I could never see the same amount of stars that somehow broke me into tears and almost prompted me to study astrology that I saw at the night in the golf course. And I also kind of miss the snow there, though I hated the cold. But in the cold days I played some frisbees with many lovely people, watched my cutest roommate scored on the lacrosse field, and ran through the TAs for my fencing class that I was almost always late for (a lot apologies to my couch Bruce). And when everything quietly went quiet during the quarantine, I miss the time we cooked together, tried in vain to study together, and watched films together. And many more. All the lonely moments seem lovely now. The virus and all the time of quarantine at least did one good thing to me. They made me think more about an individual’s connection with the outside world and how beautiful the net is.


Now I am about to head to my Chinese Legal Culture class in Fudan and meet some Vassar people that I would not have chance to see if we were not gathered here by this program. Some of us had hotpot in a Chaoshan hotpot place, and it does feel nice to see their faces through clouds of vapor instead of a zoom screen. I hope I get to enjoy the time wherever I am and I hope everyone does too. I hope this virus can do us all some good.

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