It’s still crazy to think that I’ve been in China for over a month already. Almost every day on my walk to work I forget that I’m living in a foreign country when it is so obvious that I am. I’m surrounded by a culture, language, environment, and scent that are all completely new to me, but at the same time deliver a sense of home. I have been enjoying every bit of this experience so far, whether it be bizarre, stressful, or adventurous. One of my process goals for this adventure is to stop stressing about the things I can not change. So much of that has come into play here. There is so much I can’t explain about China and the way things work; and if you know me you know I love to know why things are the way they are. In fact my go to phrase for when things are unexplainable or unbelievably different is to say “ok China” and laugh, because there’s really no other way to explain it. Every day I run into something new thats uniquely Chinese and so strange to me. Living here has really been changing my perspective on how I lived life back home.
I finally moved into an apartment the day my hotel stay was up, 21 days after arriving in China. (Three years out of college and still procrastinating). Actually I started looking at apartments my second day but I waited till I was certain I’d seen all that I wanted to see before making my decision. I decided to move into a four bedroom apartment I had gone to see about four different times. It’s a seventh floor walk up with no elevator but it’s in a great part of town next to Nanjing University, which is very popular for international studies. It’s about a 20 minute walk to work and walking distance to a large number of restaurants and bars. It’s a huge apartment with a living room, dining room, and kitchen; many traditional Chinese apartments don’t have as much. I’ve taken the master bedroom which has it’s own bathroom and a balcony. It’s so much bigger than the 5×7 box I was living in back home! My room also has a treadmill which is currently being used as my drying rack. I do have a washing machine, but there are no dryers here. The apartment also has a piano! I’m hoping to learn to play something while i’m here. I’m very happy with the place I have chosen and can’t wait to finish unpacking and settling in.
The day after I moved into my apartment I had my first day of work at Disney English! I came in with the knowledge that I would be training for a couple days in my actual work location. I quickly found that to be false when they announced at the center meeting that morning that I was going to have three classes that afternoon. Obviously I was completely stressed but I survived the weekend and no one got hurt so it qualified as almost successful. However, between moving into an apartment and spending hours cleaning dust, the allergies of China, and meeting hundreds of children in a few days, I managed to catch a cold and I completely lost my voice. After a couple days of great coworkers teaching my classes, countless amounts of hot water(the Chinese cure for everything), cough drops, tea, and honey, I was able to speak again. It’s still a bit overwhelming but the current term is coming to an end and a new one will start within the next two weeks. I’m taking this as the perfect time to fully commit and prepare these classes as my own and not as though i’ve been covering someone else. Overall I’ve really been enjoying it so far. These students are the most adorable kids you will ever see (I already have my favorites) and they are so loving and constantly trying to talk to you even though they know you don’t speak mandarin. I love that China doesn’t have rules against hugging children because they just grab onto you and don’t let go. Though sometimes the kids do weird things like poke your butt, pinch the hair on your arms, and even kiss you. The other day a girl licked my pants, that was strange.
China is an interesting place to say the least. It is almost impossible to find a cold beverage anywhere in China unless you’re at a Western styled restaurant (even then you probably won’t get ice). Eggs and milk are sold on the shelves, not in the refrigerated section. Every street corner is filled with vendors selling fruit, fish, flowers, or various types of food from their stove top carts. Everyone travels by bike or moped and they are not afraid to run you over. (I’m still trying to work out if honking is worse in China or NYC). None of the stores give you bags when you purchase something; everyone brings their own reusable shopping bag or you can buy a bag from the store. I suppose that’s China’s way of cutting down on waste, and yet I haven’t seen too many recycling bins around. The trash cans are much smaller here, i’ve emptied the trash cans out almost every day. Their umbrellas open the opposite way here and they’re carried to shield you from the sun. The umbrellas also advertise their UV protection rather than their ability to protect you from water. You can’t flush paper into the toilet (if you can even find a western toilet), and you should always carry your own paper since most restrooms don’t have. You can’t find shoes bigger than a US women’s 7, even in stores like Vans and Nike. I learned the hard way that I should have packed more than one pair of sneakers since I’ve already ripped mine. One of the things that I am enjoying differently in China is walking. There is something strangely peaceful and calming about walking here. In America there’s so much to hear, so many conversations to eavesdrop on, people to talk to, and things to read. In China, it’s different. I’m not sure if it’s that I can’t understand the language so I just don’t listen, or if the environment really is just quieter. It’s nice to be able to walk home after a 12 hour day and just have silence. My mind is much more relaxed here and that’s something I’ve never really experienced before.
There have been many bumps in the road since arriving in China but overall it’s been great and i’m so thankful to have this experience. I’m slowly starting to explore Nanjing and can’t wait to share my adventures with you! Thanks to everyone who has been following along, checking in on me, and sending love and support my way. Send a message or leave a comment if there’s something you’d like to hear about in my next post!