In classic Fulbright and Chinese fashion, I learned yesterday that they changed my class days…I am teaching on Wednesdays (tomorrow) instead of Friday. I’m not at all shocked this happened (it’s happened to many Fulbrighters in China before), and I am fine with it. It will be great to start teaching again, and it will provide some normalcy and a schedule to our weeks.
Yesterday’s highlight in Chinese bureaucracy was our 5 hour trip to the Public Security Bureau (imagine a DMV, numbered tickets and all, with far more paperwork) to get our permit…which while our documents are now in order will hopefully be ironed into our passport and available for pickup early next week.
Also, I love Wii Fit. It makes it very easy to workout daily after the kids go to bed, and now that I’ve unlocked boxing it’s even better.
I sent emails to friends and here are some excerpts which provide more details on our life:
The jetlag upon arrival was brutal for the kids, but touring Beijing was easy (always is when staying in a fancy hotel). Once we got to GZ the challenges began…mostly an amazing amount of paperwork and government bureaucracy in order for us to get our residency permits and spending a fortune at IKEA to furnish our apartment. But things are well. Being in China with kids is a completely different experience than coming alone.
Overall, we much prefer GZ to Beijing and enjoy the peacefulness of campus. We haven’t had much time to see GZ yet since we’re always off to do health checks, sign paperwork, or go shopping.
In terms of living in China, in many ways the kids are doing better than us since we’ve primarily focused on their needs and they really don’t have to deal with paper work, like signing 6 paper copies of everything in both English and Chinese. Our apartment is a very small two bedroom. While the bedrooms are fine, the kitchen is teeny tiny (the sink is at my knee, literally)….it’s a good thing that the nearby restaurant is cheap and good.
All in all though things are going well, and time is sure flying by.
The living situation in terms of sleeping arrangements and space is better than you might think. But cooking is difficult since there’s no space to cook and clean the dishes. There’s no dishwasher and you have to boil the water to clean your dishes. But our bedroom is actually quite spacious and where we have our desks. Far more frustrating is the bureaucracy and paperwork to get anything done.
The people we’ve met are great, and I suspect that will only improve once classes start. I will say that it has been a HUGE help that I was here in May, and that so many of the SYSU faculty and students were in Vermont. And we’re really happy that we had a dinner event at our house in VT with our Chinese friends since all the Chinese scholars and students are back in GZ now and have helped us with shopping, taking us to health checks, offering to show us around, etc.
Andrea is doing fine. She wants me to tell you that "China has exceeded expectations."
I hope to hire my language tutor by next week. So ask me again about how I feel about my language ability in 3 months.