Sitting here in my slightly-less-cold apartment with two “genuine” Budweiser tallboys and some Chunghwa cigarettes. China is strange, very quirky, very foreign, but also very neat and highly interesting. I had another teacher guide me through parts of the city today, and it was a really awesome experience walking the streets. You get stared a lot a lot — Fushun is not a first-tier city, and was never built to accommodate foreigners. There is nothing touristy or international about this city, it is a very “Chinese” city, and foreigners are apparently a rarity.
Luckily, my luggage finally followed me to the neighboring city of Shenyang, and I took a cab with an interpreter to the airport to retrieve them. What a relief to have all my belongings finally! I’m dying for a shower, but I’ve yet to find out how to get hot water flowing in the apartment, and I’m starting to wonder if hot water only exists as a Western luxury. I’m dreading having to bathe in ice-cold water that stubbornly flows out of the shower-head if that happens to be the reality of my situation.
For dinner my interpreter — with a huge, accomplished smile on her face — offered to take me out for some “hamburgers and french fries” or some “friend chicken” (as though she felt cultured, and just knew that all Americans thrive on such a diet). It was adorable, but I also massively appreciated her thoughtfulness and opted for some KFC (which happens to be VERY different than American KFC) to enjoy a taste of home.
Thus far, the school has been extremely helpful and very concerned about my comfort and orientation (no pun intended). I’m very happy with how helpful they have been, it genuinely feels as though they have my best interests at heart and want me to have a pleasurable experience living here in Fushun.
I’m trying not to unpack or get settled in as I’ve been informed that I will be relocated “across the river” to a nicer apartment “soon” and start working at the new school they have opened there. I may be visiting that area in the next couple of days, and from what I’ve been led on to believe it’s a developing area of Fushun with newer infrastructure. The itinerary for tomorrow is to rendezvous with my aforementioned interpreter around 10am to be taken to a supermarket and shown the ropes of how to properly shop in China, among a more extended tour of the city and the facilities I will be expected to work at, presumably.
I’m really looking forward to expanding my very limited Chinese vocabulary. Nobody speaks a lick of English here, and thus far the only Mandarin at my disposal is “hello” and “thank-you” — and the locals think it’s brilliant that I at least know those words, based solely on their reactions. I’m assuming that they assume that foreigners (specifically Americans) wouldn’t know any Mandarin whatsoever.
The culture shock and homesickness is starting to hit me. I’m afraid that it’s going to hit me like a ton of bricks in the coming days. I really miss my friends and family, and a familiar environment. And heat. Bloody central heating…
My laptop is still out of commission until I get a working charger solution for it, which one of the teachers that I met today claims to have. So, sometime within the next 2-3 days I should be able to start posting some pictures!