Settling In

As part of Jeff’s employment offer, we have a one-bedroom apartment in a building the university owns across the street from campus. Although it’s not up to American standards, it’s much nicer than my old Beijing apartment, and is a good apartment by Chinese standards.

While several of the appliances have broken in the last week, the management is incredibly responsive and has fixed everything quickly. It doesn’t bother us much since we expect things to be unreliable here, but having good management can’t be over-valued.

We live on the third floor (no elevator) and there are several other foreign teachers at the university who live in the building. It’s great to get to know the neighbors, who have been really helpful with tips and advice about the university, the neighborhood, and the city.

Enjoy your tour!

Our combination living room/dining room/entryway. Came furnished, husband not included.

Fairly large kitchen, complete with microwave. It looks like a lot of storage space, but most of the apartment’s piping and wiring isn’t in the walls, it’s hidden inside these cabinets, so less than half of the cabinets can be used as such.

Bathroom/laundry room, with one of the only glassed-in showers I’ve seen in a Chinese apartment ever. Very plush!

Bedroom with enough clothing storage for both of us — thank goodness that bit of matrimonial peace will prevail.

Balcony view out across the way, where they are finishing a new building. It seems that very little progress is being made, since I’ve only seen a one or two workers laying down tile in one apartment for the last week.

Balcony view east toward the street.

Land of Luxury

We finally have internet in our apartment, so here’s a quick update of the last week.

Friday, August 24

We get up in Santa Barbara and head to LAX, unsure of whether we will be able to get on a stand-by flight. Since Aunt Carla (lovely flight attendant pictured above) had trouble listing us on a flight, we aren’t sure we will have seats until we actually sink into the plush, expansive luxury of our business-class recliners. We are served a crazy amount of food (ice cream too!). It is the shortest 12-hour flight I’ve ever taken.

Saturday, August 25

Shanghai is not what we expect. Upon arriving, our baggage arrives without delay. The taxi driver doesn’t try to cheat us. People wait nicely in lines. The city is full of greenery and is actually rather pretty. There are international brands and restaurants everywhere in the city, and lots of other foreigners. Can this be China?

Our contact from the school meets us at our apartment, and we discover that the air conditioning is not exactly working. It is 80+ degrees all night and as humid as the 24-hour sauna at the YMCA.

Sunday, August 26

Awake at ridiculous hour and find that people in our neighborhood like to do their errands at 6 a.m. Grab street food breakfast. Trek 1.5 hours to church via public transportation. Everyone is extremely nice and we go out to our first real meal in Shanghai. We have Italian and it tastes good. Yep, Shanghai is definitely different than Beijing.

Attempt to get cell phone number for Jeff, and fail due to lack of passport. Wander around our neighborhood somewhat aimlessly until we find another store, and succeed in getting cell phone. Take taxi home, and discover that the hour-long walk we took needn’t have been so long. I am a delicious delicacy for the native mosquitoes. I’m afraid I’ll get deported as I look like I have a weird skin disease.

Monday, August 27

Our contact from the school comes to the apartment to show us around campus and get Jeff set up with some paperwork. We enjoy a lovely lunch with two of the teachers, followed by a wonderful snooze. Locate bug spray at local store by pointing to itchy bites.

Air conditioning gets fixed. Life is bearable once again.

Tuesday, August 28 – Friday, August 31

Work on furnishing apartment and finding our way around the neighborhood. Discover that there are 13 brothels along the 15-minute walk from the subway to our apartment. Visit People’s Square and discover that many of Shanghai’s tourist destinations are just extravagant malls. Feverishly clean grime out of apartment tile, consider what kind of person lived here before that they didn’t clean it when they lived here.

Attempt to get the internet company to come install internet at our apartment. Am put off with promise that someone will call to set up an installation appointment within 2-7 days. Grumble.

Shower head breaks, door buzzer breaks, gas stove breaks, hot water heater breaks. All aforementioned appliances get fixed by jolly repairman promptly.

Saturday, September 1

Head out for our government health exams, which we need in order to obtain residency. It’s a two-hour journey across the city, and we aren’t allowed to eat beforehand. Receive phone call forty minutes into trip from internet installation man, demanding to know why I’m not at home during my “installation appointment.” Argue with said man until he believes that nobody ever made an appointment with us for that morning. Obtain begrudging appointment for sometime in the afternoon.

Arrive at hospital, sign lots of papers, obtain lots of red stamps, get blood drawn, eat snack, hop on train, get lunch, crash at home. Sleep like the dead until hot water heater repairman and internet installation man arrive simultaneously. Success on both fronts.

Dinner out with friends goes so well that we miss the last train back to our neighborhood. Good thing taxis aren’t too expensive.