Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Arrival in China

Now that I've lived in China for a month now and have adapted to my new environment a bit, I thought I would share with you my first experience here. My first day in China was a bit of a culture shock. I was expecting living conditions to be poor and I knew that few people would speak English, however my reality still did not meet my extremely low expectations. When I booked my ticket, I intentionally arranged my flight to arrive in the afternoon local Beijing time. I wanted to be sure that if there were any problems there would be someone around to speak to and even if things went smoothly, I wanted time to get adjusted during the daylight hours. Thankfully my plane arrived on time and I was met at the airport by a Chinese teacher from my school who led me to the car that would take us to the university. Due to rush hour traffic around Beijing, the ride took well over the normal one hour that the drive usually takes, however, I just had to sit back and take it all in.

When I arrived at my new apartment the outside of the building looked daunting and the stairwell looked a bit sketchy. The apartment was about the size I was expecting, a small one bedroom with a kitchen and living area, but was really dirty and covered in dust/dirt. I found out later that they had it cleaned, but it was at the beginning of the summer and had sat empty for two months. Once I dropped my bags off and had a look around, the teacher checked to make sure things were working properly and then offered to take me down to the Walmart to buy a few necessary things. Conveniently Walmart is only a 5-8 minute walk from my apartment. He walked me through both floors of the giant store picking up things like toilet paper, dishes, and food. At this point I am sweaty from the plane ride and 93+ degree temperature, and exhausted having only slept 2 hours of the 16 hours in transit. Plus, the night before my flight I barely slept because I was doing last minute packing to be sure I didn't forget anything. 

A first look into my apartment:

All in one: Toilet, Shower, Sink and Washing Machine

My mini fridge

Living Room
 I didn't recognize any of the food there and I don't speak or read Mandarin so I chose food that I knew. I came home with bottled water, a giant bag of rice, bread, cheese slices, ham slices, a small bag of imported pasta and a bag (yes that's right a bag) of Hunt's tomato sauce. I tried the ham and cheese the next day and the ham was so awful I couldn't make it through a whole sandwich. The rice, sauce and noodles are still on my shelf waiting to be opened. After our shopping trip, we carried my bags home. He helped me get set up on the internet and then left. They told me I had wifi but I needed to hook up a cable to my computer and dial in each time I wanted to use the internet. Finally after a week, one of the other teachers helped me get a router so I don't have to do that anymore. 

At that point, all I wanted was a shower and then sleep. I went to the bathroom to take a shower and my water wasn't working. I plugged in the tank and fiddled with the buttons as much as possible, but nothing worked. I was so irritated at that point, but at least I had internet so I skyped my husband back home. About two hours later, after a long conversation back home and then settling in, I heard water pouring out of the faucet in the other room. I must've left the faucet on and when the tank had charged enough water came rushing out. I was so happy to finally get a shower! For me, feeling clean after a shower is the best thing and can totally change my mood around. After a good nights rest, everything started looking up in the morning.



  1. At least you have a western toilet! My friend taught English in Qinzou and I don't think I saw anything but a squatty potty during the whole trip we visited her. Sounds like you met some very hospitable people.

    1. The only western toilets I've seen are in the foreign teacher apartments and the western hotel rooms. I am so glad to have one though! It is very nice that everyone is so nice and want me to feel comfortable. They want me to like it here so I want to stay longer!