Well we have finally arrived in China! After over a month long waiting period for my visa to come in, it finally came and less than a week later, we were on a plane. Brogan was ecstatic, he finally got to see the place I have been talking about for months.
Actually, we arrived over a week ago but my life has been a whirlwind of activity. We had to get all the household stuff which is a HUGE deal when you don’t know where anything is and you can’t speak the language. I was lucky because one of the Chinese staff members at the school took pity on me and drove me in his CAR to Kaifachu (a nearby city to where I live in Jinshitan-suburb of Dalian) to go shopping at a British owned stored called Tesco. There we loaded up his car with bedding, dishes, etc. The necessities. That was a few days after we arrived so before that we had relied on the charity of other teachers who lent us bedding, dishes and all the other stuff one needs to live in an apartment.
We got lucky in a lot of ways before we even came. The principal (who has been AMAZING) insisted on holding one of the apartments on the girls campus for us. Apparently, there is a waiting list a mile long for these apartments and the people who live on the older boys campus are not too happy that I was able to jump the queue. This apartment comes with a western toilet, a fridge, TV, furniture and it’s WARM. That is a big deal around here because there isn’t central heating so apartments are often quite chilly.
Here are some of the oddities of living in China:
-Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way. Even if THEY are the ones with the green light. Never assume a car will stop. In fact, assume that it won’t. (Because it won’t)
-Always carry along tissue paper because absolutely no bathrooms have it. Even the bathrooms at the school don’t have toilet paper in them. We are lucky to have western toilets, to be honest. There is no such thing as towels for hand drying either. Drip drying is where it’s at!
-The food is delicious. We are SO getting ripped off in North America with Chinese food.
-No one speaks English except the westerners and some of the students. Taxi drivers, waitresses, store managers. NO ONE. It can get a little frustrating if you really need something because you are totally on your own to figure it out. I really need to learn the language
-All the stuff at the grocery store is in a different language. So I do a lot of guessing. Is this sugar or salt? Pop or juice? Flour or something else? It’s a big guessing game. It’s the same at a restaurant. I point at something and hope it’s not gross or something I’m allergic to (fish). So far we’ve been really lucky with the guessing.
-Chinese desserts are boring. They aren’t very sweet and they aren’t really anything. The wine hasn’t been good so far either (although I haven’t tried very many)
-Things are CHEAP!!! I still can’t get over paying 4 RMB for a meal (That is way less than a dollar). Taking Brogan out for dinner NEVER costs me more than $8 (50RMB) Canadian. It’s almost cheaper to eat out than at home here. Cabs are cheap too, at 8RMB (about $1.30) for anywhere in this town.
-People hork and spit everywhere and it’s kind of gross. Even business men and women with fancy suits will hork onto the street right beside you.I think different things are gross here.
– Some things that we think are rude don’t seem to be to them. They will think nothing of coming up and POKING Brogan. Good job he is such a character because he tells them off.
-I had a lady hold her nose near me as if I stank and apparently that is what they do when they are racist and showing that they don’t like us. Rude!
-It hasn’t been as crowded as I thought it would be. However, I haven’t gone to a place like Beijing yet either.
-I have seen trucks full of seaweed going by. I think a lot of these huge truck loads end up in our food.
-Food safety doesn’t seem to be a big deal here. Brogan and I haven’t gotten sick from it yet but quite a few are a little squeamish about it. One of the long-time people (been here for a few years) was shocked when they found out their two year old daughter had been eating yogurt with melamine in it a year ago or so. They had been buying expensive yogurt to try and avoid that kind of thing. They are REALLY careful now.
-The rules seem to be…negotiable sometimes. For example: the law says you cannot drink alcohol until you are 18 but no one checks ID and there are no agencies that make sure the merchants are checking. Same with cigarettes.
-There are absolutely hilarious chip flavours here. Prawn, strawberry, cucumber to name a few.
-I am lucky to be living in a town that isn’t very polluted. It’s very windy here though.
There are lots more things, I’m sure. I just can’t think of anymore as I sit here. We have also only been here a week so I’m sure there will be more revelations to come. So far I really love this huge school and am glad I came here. It’s different from anything I’ve ever done or seen and very exciting. Sometimes I’m walking around and it hits me, “Im in CHINA!”
Presently we are in the process of choosing our destination for the week long May vacation. It’s very hard to choose!
As soon as I can, I will upload some photos you will enjoy. Right now I am having trouble with the application because my internet is too slow.