is odd that I'm writing you this letter knowing I probably will never meet you, but that is beyond my point. I also am sure you have been welcomed enough so I won't waste time on that eihter. So, let's go down to business straight away, shall we?
Nanjing University, as you are probably alredy well aware, is an old institution that used to be one with the Nanjing normal university etc., etc. … But there is so much more to it than prestige.
The language courses are probably strucutred in a way that you all are already used to, pretty standard. So, no real need in introducing those. On the other hand keep your eyes wide open with elective courses, because those, if you are prepared to listen will teach you well beyond the language and the usual cultural topics most of you are, I am quite sure, familiar with. Sometimes it comes down to luck, maybe, but if you do land the right professors you'll have the opportunity to attend very well structured and thought classes that will offer you an deep insight into chinese society. But all comes with a price, all these classes will be in chinese. These are not easy classes, though they might not have a standard exam at the end of the semester they will require of you concentration and commitment, but in my oppinion you'll have in the end a much better understanding of thing and behaviours that you might've labeled odd in the beginig.
If you are taking the language course, the basic classes do not take much time, since they finish by noon, so you can fill your time with more classes or, if you want to achieve fast results especially in spoken chinese do find yourself straight from the begining a language partner. It might be for english or german, italian or even russian, nearly any language will give you an opportunity to chatter with a chinese student and they'll teach you chinese while you will teach them your language and both will benefit from this exchange. From what I've seen is the fastest and most reliable way of improving your skill in an astonishing short period of time. You can also have more than one language partner at the time, all depends from your commitment.
Now, let's see some more practical aspects, if you are on a scholarship you'll be asked to open a bank account at the ICBC, this bank has a branch on Hankou lu which is a 5 min wlak down Shanghai lu. If you want to just change money you'll do it downstair on the ground floor on your right, but if you need to open an account you need to go upstair (the stairs are on your left begind the corner) and go to the very back, where is the VIP/foreigner section. They somehow speak english so you should be able to quite smoothly open an account which will be active straight away and free. But you must not forget your passport, as they don't accept any other indentification document. The same goes for money exchange. Once you have your credit card try and ask if they can activate it for online shopping as to link your home country card to Taobao is rather annoying, not impossible though. Also it might come in handy if you want to take the HSK exam, because they require online payment and they do not accept foreign cards.
Also do try and get your Visa sorted at the university between the 4 days at the very beginning as they offer you to all the services at the university and you don't need to go running around chiense offices, because it is not fun. Believe me, I tried it. Long story short, try to have all the papers filled in and the right size or age of the photo, because these small details might make the whole proces way more complicated and annoying. Also don't expect the workers ad the office for foreign student to speak english. A lot of them don't, same goes for the workers at Xiyuan. So if you're lucky enough to know a person that speaks fluent chinese, do ask them for help, it will spare you a lot of trouble.
But let's get to a more fun side of Nanjing. There is a big cafe culture around the Nanda campus, there is Sir Coffee with the cheapest coffee in the vicinity, but a rather dark and smokey ambient inside, there was Belong cafe on Qingdao lu, but it was closed in July, but one of the waiters mentioned me that it might be soon reopened very near the campus, this coffee shop was really nice and perfect for long studying session as the tables were rather wide the coffee was good and it was quieter and lighter than other coffee shops. Down Shanghai lu there are also a lot of coffee shops from 3Coffee to Zing Hut and many more I haven't tried out, all worth of a visit. There is also Cafe Bene in Gulou and Xinjiekou and on Zhujianglu for those who want some more korean coffee. And for delicious brunches to check out Maan cafe with amazing waffles and Pimiento accross Shanghai lu for delicious and rather affordable burgers during the week and delicous mountain brunches in the weekend. For good doughnuts go to Momentum, not the one across Xiyuan, but the one on the other side of Shanghai lu! More delicious restaurants are on Cheap street (the small alley just before Hankou lu, the street with the big ICBC and Suguo)m there is a korean restaurant, a Lanzhou lamian, a Mala tang, Jiaozi restaurant and many little shops with freshly made snacks, also on Hankou lu there is a very good porridge restaurant a hidden korean restaurant (though I believe the korean resaturant on Cheap street is much better), the fruit market open 24/7, Paris baguette and of course McDonald's. But all in all there are so many restaurant's all around you really have a lot to chose from.
Now we covered the daily activities, let's move to even more fun part. The night life. Nanjing might not have a night life comparable with Beijing or Shanghai or Hong Kong, but is still quite lively. One of the most populated and rather nice bars around the campus is Bar 61. Is right across McDonald's. And is an underground bar. Also there is La Villa down Shanghai lu. One of the most liked ones though is Ellen's. There are at least 2 Ellen's I'm aware of. There is one on Guangzhou lu and there is one across 1912. The Guangzhou lu one is rather small, populae by an equal ammount of foreigners and chinese, while the one near 1912 is much wider, has 2 pool tables and has a more foreign clientele. There is also Bassement on the intersection between Guangzhou lu and Shanghai lu, this place as you can see from the name is in a basement, and hosts a lot of live shows, definetly a place to check out. But if you feel a bit more classy or jazzy of just not the usual music you hear in bars there is Word bar near 1912 that offers a bit more alterantive music, also many themed events and such. A nice and more clam ambient where to spend a peasant night out. How about the free drinks events? Well being a girl I am more aware of the girls nights out, than man nights out. But Poets a bar located in the building beside Blue frog, Wagga's and Fresh element, right before the intersection with Deji Plaza, holds every Wednesday a Girl's night out where between 9pm and 11am they serve free no limit refils of mojitos, and believe me, they are sweet and strong. The same bar also holds Man's nights out on Thursdays. I am sorry for the guys who are reading this article, but I am not familiar with what they offer to you.
Now, let's move on to the clubs. There are many clubs. There is Aineng at Wutaishan (a 10 min walk from Xiyuan if you take the shortcut trough the sport center) there is Psycadelic cat near the Avantguard bookshop (actualy on the way to Aineng). These are the ones I'm aware of around the campus, but the most liked ones among the foreigners heppen to be located in 1912, which is a 10 kuai drive by taxi from Xiyuan. They are Enzo and Scarlet. Usually Enzo is a bit more lively between 12 and 2 am, but if you want a table and a place where to put your belongings you want to be there a bit earlier as their garderobe is rather small. Enzo then is usually followed by Scarlet which is the liveliest between 2 am and 4 am. Scarlet has a rather big garderobe, so you dont really need to worry you won't have a place to leave your belongings. Also Scarlet has 2 floors, but not always the second floor is open.
And if you are still not tired after 4am, after all the dancing and drinking and having fun there is always Claunge afterwards all the way untill 8 am.
There are many more places that you can go to, but I decided to list you the most popular ones.
Nanjing is not only a quite moderns city, but also has many cultural place that should be visited while wandering around during the day. There is the Nanjing museum, the Gallery, the Presidential palace, the City wall, the Jiming temple, various gardens, Xuanwu lake park, the Zifeng tower, the Purple mountain, the Mign xiao ling, the Aquarium, the Botanical garden, the Hongshan Zoo, IKEA (half way kidding here...), and many many more! But one thing you should never forget to bring with yourselves, your STUDENT CARD! This little blue booklet will give you a 50% entrance ticket discount on nearly anything. So keep it in your wallet or bag, because it will let you save quite a bit of money. Not only in Nanjing but also while travelling! And also do get yourselves a public transport card, they are sold at nearly any subway station (definetly in Gulou) and even thought they can only be charged with 50 or 100 kuai, they will save you some change since the prices with the card for both but and subway are sligtly cheaper.
I wrote a rather long article of all the things I thought might be usefull or interesting to an inernational student, I hope you found answers or at least a hint towards what direction to go while starting your stay at the Nanjing University. I hope you'll have an amasing experience as I did and accumulate a lot new beautiful and happy memories as well as pic up a lot of chinese. (Nina)