Onto the second day. We are now meeting more teachers. Our school has grown so much this summer, there are over 70 new English speaking teachers arriving in China. Yesterday, Nicholas and I were able to visit our school and we are VERY impressed. The school is huge and everything is pristine. I will post some photos of it on this photoblog. Today we had breakfast with some other teachers and walked around. I bought an umbrella to keep the sun off of me.
There are two things I want to talk about in this post. The first is our jet-lag strategy, the second is things that will take some getting used to.
Ok so first thing is first. Jet-lag. How do you avoid it on an international flight? I researched it a little, and there are fancy plans that you can buy and customize for your personal journey. I’m pretty cheap so I decided it was possible to figure it out on my own… And it was. For the entire week before we left, Nicholas and I have been staying up until 4:00am (6:00pm in Shanghai). This way we were used to daylight/nighttime hours being switched when we arrived in China. This was an excellent strategy. We are experiencing some jet lag effect; however, it is not nearly as difficult as it could have been. We are sleeping through the night until 5:00 am and getting sleepy around 9:00pm. Its not perfect but we are well on our way.
The second thing is really just a list of things that have been very difficult to adjust to:
- Being the foreigner. Its just a completely different ballgame when you don’t speak the language and look completely different. For the introvert, the staring is difficult, but expected. The exhaustion of trying to communicate is overwhelming. I tried to order dumplings last night and learned the words for beef dumpling and they didn’t have it so they just gave us something else in the end. Honestly, we forgot a pocket Mandarin guide. That would have been nice to bring. So if you want to send us one we’d love you forever.
- The smell. Our city, smells. Not during the day, but at night. I don’t know what it is but we will walk by a restaurant or sewer or park and it will be rank. The air is thick with smells and they linger because of the humidity.
- The water. The water is weird. You can boil it and its drinkable, but bottled is definitely better. Nicholas drinks liters of water each day and keeping him hydrated is so difficult.
- Bathrooms. I walked in to use a bathroom in public today. Western toilets but no paper. I forgot to bring my own paper. Lesson learned. Also, they don’t typically have soap. Note to self, bring soap?
Our time here has been short and we are really expecting to love it once we are settled in our own apartment with the ability to cook. PS, I love the E-Mart grocery store here. Look for pics here. It will be so easy to eat and cook once we get settled. I even met a woman there today from Pakistan. I spoke Arabic to her hoping to practice and make a friend but English is our only common language. Hopefully she’ll be my friend while we are here.