First Week in China
We have arrived in Wuhan, China.
Here’s a summary of what’s been going on.
We arrived on Thursday, and have spent this week either getting physicals, at the school preparing for students who come this upcoming Monday, and resting and recovering from jetlag.
A combination of the nasty pollution here and jetlag resulted in me being sick pretty much since we got here off and on. Upon immediately arriving I felt super dizzy. I thought that this was just from lack of sleep, but it continued for several days, and I still have it a little bit. Jetlag also results in me not being hungry when I am supposed to, and having a hard time sleeping at nighttime here.
The pollution is bad here. Very bad. Surprisingly bad. Valerie and I have bought a few plants for our apartment, and plan to buy more. We want to treat our apartment like the International Space Station – creating our own oxygen with plants.
Some examples of the pollution here:
- The visibility is extremely low. You can probably not see for more than a few miles away, whereas in the states you can see for more like 10-20 miles away, if not farther on a clear day.
- We have not really seen the sun very much since we got here. Some of this I think may be due to the weather system, but instead of having sunny days it seems like we have hazy days where the pollution, quite literally, diffuses the sunlight and stops it from reaching the earth.
- We mopped our porch outside and after about 4 days it needed mopping because it was covered in a thin layer of dust/dirt/pollution.
- I sneeze at least a dozen times a day, and try and blow my nose constantly. I am trying to keep my lungs clear of the stuff.
We feel quite helpless most of the time — we had to have other teachers from the school help us setup our gas, internet, phones, gas, and water. You cannot drink the water — it must be drunk from a water cooler. It costs $2-3 USD for 5 gallons of water or so. Now that we have everything setup we are able to relax at home much better.
Here’s how stuff is going with the school:
The teachers at the school are quite friendly. A new principal of the kindergarden arrived the same day we did for work, so she is new. She smiles a lot, but is very strict and we refer to her as Umbridge. I think this is a bit harsh, but it seems like the cultural is just rather pushy in all directions here. They do things differently here, and not really in a way that I like.
This has been our week:
- Monday: Go to the school 8AM sharp. Meet some of the other teachers, get a tour. Then we get whisked away to a hospital about an hour away in the Guanggu District for a physical where they take our blood, get a chest x-ray, check our body fat, get a picture, that sort of thing. They were very fast and efficient, and at the time I thought the hospital was kind of grungy. There was basically no wait for any part of the process so the whole thing maybe took 35 minutes or so. Very fast. We get free lunches at the school but we are so late to lunch that they have run out of chopsticks and most of the food is cold. Oh well.
- Tuesday: Go to the school. Wesley goes over a lot of the stuff we need to know about the schedule and classes and things, but we are interrupted multiple times by the higher ups with questions about how many English teachers are coming back, what classes we will teach, and other events going on this week, as well as debating whether we are getting paid for being at the school or not.
- Wednesday: We took the day off to sleep in, watch Malcolm in the Middle, and work on getting internet setup. Our internet seems OK – most of the time it is fairly fast, but a few times we have gone to call landline phones in the US and it has been way to choppy to understand what the other person is saying. Sorry, Nonnie.
- Thursday: Woke up at the crack of dawn to go to a different hospital for another physical. This hospital was incredibly grungy and gave me a much more optimistic view on the healthcare system in the US of A. I don’t think they ever mopped the floors, I saw several open wounds, there are no bandaids anywhere to be seen, there are long lines with people cutting in line to have their blood drawn, we wait for over an hour for the x-ray, there is one lightbulb per hallway, and I was too scared to look at the bathrooms. I’m surprised – it seems like this place chose to reject the idea of how germs spread, or anything since Louis Pasteur and modern medicine.
- Went to school, prepared the classroom, got our QQ — instant messenger setup, dug out flashcards, reviewed lesson plans. Internet stopped working around 1pm, so that ended a lot of our productivity. Tonight we go back to the school soon for some sort of meeting with the children’s parents. We were only told yesterday that we needed to be at this meeting — before that we were told NOT to come to the meeting. The lack of notice for anything and miscommunication can be very frustrating. We were told TODAY that our hours of working are supposed to be 7:30-5:30 now instead of 8-5. What? The most frustrating part of this whole scenario, and any other changes, is that we are pretty much powerless with whatever the heck they decide to do with us. Our only real bargaining power is, “If you do this, we will leave,” which isn’t really useful since we don’t actually intend to leave at this point.
Our apartment is quite nice. My only complaint about it is the air pollution. We have awesome air conditioners, nice garden and trees outside, and are within about a 2 minute walk of many restaurants and shops. Our kitchen is pretty tiny and does not have an oven. We will buy one so we can cook cookies — a great American tradition. We live in an apartment complex pronounced Wonka Mailee. And the kindergarden school looks like a colorful castle – so we go from Willy Wonka land to the Kindergarden Castle.
I have started making Mandarin flashcards — like 5 per day. I will start taking mandarin lessons soon, I am trying to decide who will be able to teach me. My coworkers at the school hardly speak any English, so it has already forced me to start learning certain phrases like, “I don’t understand.” and “How do you say” and “Good morning.”
Hoping to get more plants soon, and maybe see if we can order an air purifier from TaoBao.
Questions on anything? Ask away!