|Flowering lotus pond and campus seen from our living room window.|
1. It's more organized and less chaotic than anticipated.
2. The food is amazing.
3. And so are the people.
A month in, I agree. But the first week didn't quite feel like that. It was shocking to walk into our campus apartment and see cockroaches crawling over the dead carcasses of their brethren, a rotting hole under the kitchen sink, black crud on the floor of the bathroom, stains streaking the walls. Etcetera.
After cleaning like crazy people, we fell into bed that night--feeling like we'd dropped onto a concrete sidewalk. I missed my memory foam mattress like never before. The cushion-less wood furniture in the living room was just as unyielding.
With the help of some new friends, we were able to buy cushions and pads. And the Dean came over to show us how to use the washing machine--although he wasn't sure about a few settings and laughingly said he usually doesn't do the laundry.
Dave rustled up some light blue paint and transformed our living room. The bedroom will be next.
|A man of action.|
The Chinese love exercise. On my way to class in the mornings (a five-minute walk), I see retired people playing volleyball and badminton. There are big sports fields here where people play on the equipment, kick balls around, practice Kung Fu, walk, jog, stretch.
In the evenings, groups of (mostly women) gather to "square dance"--which is more like line dancing to a boom box that's blasting anything from traditional Chinese music to pop songs.
|Dancing like mama.|
People also ride bikes and motorbikes everywhere, which adds to the feeling that China = movement. All motorbikes here, by law, are electric. This has the pleasant effect of keeping down air and noise pollution. Some days are hazy here, but for the most part, it's pretty clean and green.
|just outside campus|
I'm finding I need the rest. My body and mind are adjusting to my new job: teaching creative writing, literature, and yoga to college kids. For three years, "going to work" has meant editing books in my yoga pants. It's been an adjustment putting on real clothes and being "on" in the morning.
|Class on the American Memoir|
|With Charles, the son of our new French friends |
who are here for the husband's postdoc.
|Li Ji playing a song for the kids.|
|Weighing the dough and rolling into balls, mooncake-making preparation.|
We were also invited to a mid-Autumn festival meal, where everyone participated in making pork dumplings. All the food was delicious--except the snake, which according to Dave was too spicy. I couldn't get past the fact that it still had the skin on. More suitable for boots than appetizers, if you ask me.
|Soup, greens, two kinds of chicken, dumplings and snake.|
|Fat noodles with bits of fried pork.|
We're happy to have discovered a music scene. Paul (from Liverpool) and Ricky (from Singapore) play at an ex-pat bar on the weekends--and they have opened a café called the Ukulele Club, where they plan to run music and literary events.
|At the Queen's Head.|
|We gave Tina one of the mooncakes we made.|
You've probably noticed that most of the Chinese people I've been talking about have English names. Many choose to use one with foreigners, a name that is similar to their Chinese name. I'm taking Mandarin lessons and hoping that once I learn to speak it well enough I'll be able to call them by their Chinese names. And maybe I'll have them use mine: 凱特 (Kǎi tè).
I feel like I have a million more things to say about China, even though it's been only a month. Stay tuned.