Settling In

As I write this post, I realize that I’ve already been here for an entire week! Similar to my first week in Japan, the time seemed to move slowly, yet fly by at the same time. I think it’s because the days have either been so jam-packed, or conversely, simply doing things around the apartment. All the while, there’s still this surreal feeling akin to a dream that leads me to believe it hasn’t really sunken in yet that I’m living in another part of the world now.

The signs are everywhere, neatly nestled into everyday mundane things, like looking out the window, getting a glass of water, or walking down the street. What I see when I look out the window is a uniquely Chinese cityscape – complete with haze, construction cranes, and colorful nighttime lighting. I cannot/should not drink the tap water here for fear of some illness, so I have a water dispenser in my apartment similar to one you might see in an office building hallway, yet that water still smells a bit off. And of course, walking down the street is a different animal altogether, minus the saving grace that traffic still drives on the right side of the road. Here in China the cars have the right of way; pedestrians, both 2- and 4-legged, know this fact. The casual American text-and-walk’er wouldn’t survive here long.

Despite all of these things, for some reason my new reality has yet to sink in. I think that perhaps the language acts as more than just a communication barrier, but as sociological and psychological ones as well. Then there are the facts that I am not alone this time in my travels, I have a comfortable apartment, comfortable pay, and despite all the “walls,” I am still quite well-connected to my friends and family in the outside world. These facts all starkly contrast with the reality that I faced upon landing in Japan. Although there is one final thought I have with regard to this feeling, and that is that perhaps I am better prepared for this transition than I thought. Maybe having gone through an equally as aggressive cultural inversion once before has negated the initial shock that I was expecting to have.

Whatever the reason may be, I am settling into China quite nicely. Now the question is, how will I settle into my new role as teacher compared to my not-so-long-ago role as student? I guess we’ll find out soon enough, considering classes start on Monday!

So aside from my commentary on life, here are some updates:

  • Rachel’s bag finally arrived and we were able to retrieve it on Sunday.
  • We went to Ikea and it was quite an experience – more on that later, because we’ll be returning soon.
  • Dan #2 will be arriving sometime in the next day or so – he’s the second ESL teacher.
  • I have seen my office! Despite not having AC, it’s nice. There are big windows overlooking the street from the 4th floor, a leather couch, a decently-sized desk, and a desktop computer. With a few homey touches I’m sure I’ll do just fine there.
  • My apartment is coming along nicely! More on that in a later post as well.
  • Our first grocery shopping trip was a success!
  • Chinese television is quite entertaining, especially when you and a friend are making up your own plot lines and filling in the dialogue. It turns into quite the Whose Line Is It Anyway experience! 🙂

That’s all for now! Here are some shots of my new city at night!

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4 thoughts on “Settling In

  1. This sounds like a truly beautiful experience! Your pictures are stunning and reading through your article I noticed myself smiling quite a few times. Definitely interested to hear more about your journey!

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