Prof. Dr. DariaBerg（白岱玉），圣加仑大学中国文化与社会专业教授。白岱玉教授发表过诸多关于中国文学、媒体和文化历史等方面的文献。她最新的专题著作《早期现代中国的女性与文学世界，1580-1700年》在国际亚洲研究学者大会所设的图书奖项中摘得“2015专家出版荣誉奖”。她与Giorgio Strafella共同撰写的文章“网红的养成—韩寒博客评析”获得“2015弗美尔最佳文章奖”。目前白岱玉教授正致力于当代中国城市文化的探索，其中涉及新数字媒体、文学、艺术、性别以及视听文化和网络文化。
1983年，由于痴迷于中国文化的神奇，我开始就读 于慕尼黑大学中文系。阿里巴巴山洞的钥匙，我想就是阅 读中文书籍的能力。大学头两年的学习，我沉浸于阅读中 国古文和现代汉语以及三千年的中国文化史。在此之后，我在波恩参加了由中德政府联合启动的，很受欢迎的赴华留学奖学金竞赛。当取得胜利时，我很激动，也充满了活力。几个入选的学生聚集在波恩的德意志学术交流中心 （DAAD）总部，申请去中国各地的大学。不久我们就将体 验到中国官僚体制的动态。我的首选是北京，却被派去上 海的复旦大学。
MY LIFE IN SHANGHAI, 1985 – 1986
Dr. Daria Berg
Prof. Dr. Daria Berg, DPhil (Oxon), is Chair Professor (Ordinaria) of Chinese Culture and Society at the University of St.Gallen. She has published extensively on Chinese literature, media and cultural history. Her latest monograph ‘Women and the Literary World in Early Modern China, 1580-1700’ (2013) won the International Convention of Asia Scholars Book Prize 2015 Specialist Publication Accolade. Her joint article with Giorgio Strafella, ‘The Making of an Online Celebrity: A Critical Analysis of Han Han’s Blog’ (2015) was the 2015 Winner of ‘The Eduard B. Vermeer Prize for the Best Article’. Her current research explores urban culture in contemporary China, including the new digital media, literature, art, gender, audiovisual culture and Internet culture.
1985 in Shanghai seemed to be a magical moment in time: like the Sleeping Beauty, the city had just awakened from a long slumber — or so it seemed. After the Mao years and China’s isolation from international trade and tourism during the years of the Cultural Revolution, Shanghai appeared on the verge of reinventing itself as an international megacity — in terms of business, tourism and cultural exchange. In the early 1980s — during the first years of Deng Xiaoping’s new reform era — Shanghai was busy transforming itself into a trendsetter once again. Spearheading new political, economic and cultural fashions, the city prepared for a glorious future as a centre of trade, culture and consumerism, helping to catapult China into its new role as a rising superpower.
To me, a young undergraduate student from Europe, China was both a mystery and a challenge. Not ten years since the death of Mao and the end of the cultural revolution, China had been largely closed to foreigners and was just beginning to open up to the West. I knew China only from the world of fiction and museums. A few exhibitions in Munich on China opened a world full of treasures to me, like Alibaba’s cave — wonderful paintings and calligraphy, the script of Chinese char- acters that looked like a secret code, the legacy of empire and a grand civilization, the taste of tea and exotic fruits, the allure of silk and brocade. Other images of China in Western minds included mass parades on Tiananmen Square, a sea of red flags, waving black-haired people who seemed to epitomize Mao’s creation of new human beings.
In the early 1980s China’s new helmsman, Deng Xiaoping, was trying to reverse the revolution and invite foreign trade and investment. He opened China’s doors to Western tourists and students. China was rising as the new global player that we needed to learn to understand. A new generation of students should lead the way to cultural exchange between China and the West. I was one of them. We were on a pioneering mission to the frontiers of the familiar world, to the heart of China’s great civilization, the very centre of the civilized world, as Chinese citizens had believed for millennia. We were there to witness the beginning of China’s transformation into a superpower, an economic and social experiment on a scale that had not been seen before.
A couple of years earlier, in 1983, I had enrolled at Munich University to read Chinese Studies because I was enchanted by the wonders of Chinese culture. The key to Alibaba’s cave, I mused, would be the ability to read Chinese books. After the first two years at university, immersed in the study of classical Chinese texts, the modern language and three thou- sand years of China’s cultural history, I competed in Bonn for one of the coveted joint German-Chinese government scholarships to study in China. I felt exuberant when I succeeded. The few chosen students gathered in Bonn at the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) headquarters to apply for university places in China. Soon we were to experience first-hand the dynamics of Chinese bureaucracy. My first choice was Beijing. I was allocated Fudan University in Shanghai instead.
I knew Shanghai from novels about the 1930s, pearl of the Orient, whore of the East, a world city with a cosmopolitan pop- ulation that boasted the first symbols of modernity: skyscrap- ers, jazz clubs, cafés, horse racing, restaurants. When the plane approached Shanghai’s airport, my heart sank. Underneath me I could see nothing but agricultural fields, vegetable gardens, small huts, clay paths and bicycles. The airport consisted of one small, run-down building, no air conditioning, no neon lights, no luxuries, no hint of the metropolis that loomed somewhere on the horizon. Full of apprehension we entered the bus to the university campus.
Fudan University was one of China’s top two universities. Alongside Beijing University, it was regarded as the Oxford and Cambridge of China. It provided the breeding ground for Chi- na’s future social, cultural and political elite. A huge grey statue of Mao solemnly greeted us on the main campus, an hour’s bus ride north of the city centre. The Chinese students lived in grey dormitories with traditional red curved roofs on the main cam- pus, eight to a room in bunk beds, each bed with a row of study books lined up neatly against the wall.
When I arrived at Fudan, a brand-new dormitory was opened for foreign students on a separate satellite campus out- side the university compound, a gated community behind con- crete walls. We had our own canteen with slightly more fancy food than the Chinese canteens on the main campus. Running hot water was available twice a day for short periods of time.
We lived in luxury compared to our Chinese fellow students and the rest of the city. Chinese tradition viewed the Yangzi River as the dividing line between the cold north and the subtropical south. We had heating in our foreign students’ dormitory rooms, a rarity in the area ‘south of the river’. We were also able to choose single occupancy or share with one Chinese roommate. The departments of political sciences and international relations selected Chinese students to live with foreign students on our small satellite campus. They became our first Chinese friends.
‘Roaming students’ on a study mission abroad had a long tradition in China. Deng Xiaoping had been one of them when he went to study in France in the 1920s. Yet there had been hardly any foreign students in China for many decades during the Mao years. We — the new generation of international students invited to study in reform-era China — were a rare breed in both cities and countryside. Most Chinese citizens had never seen a foreigner before. They gathered to see us by the hundreds, standing around us in large circles, gaping at our blond hair, blue eyes, and big noses. When I sat down on a bus, in a theatre or at a party, every so often somebody behind me would try to pluck out one of my blond hairs to take home as a souvenir.
Shanghai was like a sea of old, grey buildings. Next to decaying old mansions, brand-new skyscrapers sprouted around us all over the city, multiplying like mushrooms, rising ever higher into the sky, wrapped in bamboo scaffolding and jute covers. We could not imagine how they would transform the city.
The streets from Fudan University in the north of the city to the Bund boasted enormous stretches of new dual or triple carriageways. They teemed with hordes of bicycles in the day-time but were empty at night. The occasional limousine taxi would ferry high-ranking party cadres or foreigners around. There was no underground yet. Public transport consisted of old buses that rattled so much that we feared they might fall apart at any moment, surrounded by clouds of fumes and stacked with people like sardines. The broad empty highways bedazzled us. At night, cycling home from an evening gathering at one of the foreign consulates general, we would cycle home next to each other, six in a row, chatting, singing loudly and enjoying the empty streets on the ride back to the campus. At the time, none of us could have imagined the jam-packed lanes full of the cars that clog up Shanghai today.
Shanghai’s citizens looked like an army of people clad in white and blue in the summer, and blue, brown and green in the winter. They moved around on bicycles, by bus and on foot. Trendy young men sported permed hair and girls would occasionally dare to wear red polka-dotted skirts. We looked like aliens among them with our lipstick, make-up and fashion jewellery.
The tropical heat of summer presently turned into a foggy autumn and an icy winter. We soon settled into a routine of studying in freezing rooms, wearing down jackets and duvets draped around us during class and sitting on pillows to combat the cold. We started travelling during weekends and holidays to explore the Chinese world, sounding out all the corners of the country from the tropical paradise of Hainan island, the jungles around the Mekong river in Xishuangbanna, Kunming, the city of eternal spring in the South-West, to the sugarloaf mountains of Guilin, and the heat of Guangzhou down South, to Beijing and Qingdao in the North. Not all regions were open to foreign travel. During those trips we learned not only Chinese conversation during endless hours spent in hard-seat and hard-sleeper compartments on trains, but also more about Chinese culture than we could ever have imagined in the classroom. We sipped tea, chewed sunflower seeds and played cards with new Chinese friends.
As foreign students in China, we received Chinese student identity cards. They allowed us to pay in the local currency, the Renminbi. All other foreigners had to exchange money for For- eign Exchange Certificates (FEC), bank notes in pink, yellow, blue and green that looked like a game of Monopoly. Foreigners needed this money for all transactions. FEC were mandatory for payments at the designated hotels for foreigners and in the Friendship Stores. These places were open to foreigners only or Chinese people if escorted by a foreigner.
So was the famous jazz club in the Peace Hotel on the Bund. The band was a group of octogenarians, jazz-trained musicians who had survived from the long-gone Republican era. The Peace Hotel jazz bar was one of the few places that offered dancing, wine, beer and coffee. The band played every night to a crowded room.
Chinese student identity cards also allowed us to stay in inns for local travellers, as opposed to the hotels designated for foreigners. It brought us closer to the local population, as we shared their dining halls and daily routines. I visited Hangzhou and the West Lake, paradise on earth for generations of scholar-officials in imperial China, Suzhou with its canals, Nanjing, the terracotta army in Xian, the ancient capital of Kaifeng with a street festival that provided glimpses into the past, enabling us to imagine what China would have looked like in the days of the Song dynasty. I paid homage to the grave of Confucius in Shandong province, climbed the holy mountain of Taishan, stayed overnight on the summit to greet the sun rising above the clouds the next morning, and returned to Shanghai by ship from Qingdao, answering thousands of questions from curious Chinese fellow travellers.
Back on campus, we were busy with newly-forged friendships, we exchanged language lessons and poetry sessions, we watched performances of Shakespeare in Chinese and listened to both Chinese and classical Western music concerts. When we left Shanghai after one year, I felt I had grown up, ‘come of age’ in Shanghai, the city that had become a second home to me in my heart.
China’s formidable progress in economic terms from 1985 to the present has been so staggering that sometimes, when I re- turned to China years later, I could hardly recognize the place. The Dragon Restaurant is still there on the auspicious eighth floor of the Peace Hotel on the Bund, but the stuffy interior has given way to ultra-modern glamour. In my student days the view from its windows to the East opened over the Bund, the Huangpu river and beyond the flat lands stretching as far as the sea with some animals grazing and a few huts scattered around. Now Pudong across the river presents a skyline of ultramodern skyscrapers with dazzling glass facades and futuristic designs, the Pearl Tower is a symbol of a new millennium in Shanghai, dwarfing the colonial side of the Bund that speaks of Shang- hai’s long, colourful and turbulent history. I am grateful to the German and Chinese governments for providing me with one of their much-prized scholarships, enabling me to witness China on the threshold of opening up to the West — and I applaud the city and its people who continue to make Shanghai one of the most fascinating places on earth.