A ROOM WITH A KITCHEN (AND A BATHROOM!)
On Wednesday we moved out of our little apartment with
a view to our grand new apartment. One of my adult students, Charlie, had
been determined to help us ever since he heard we were going to move. We
quite gladly accepted his offer which included the help of two of his
friends, one being the owner of an SUV. We carried all of our stuff down
three flights of stairs, loaded up the SUV and a taxi, drove to the new
place, made a wrong turn, went in the back way, unloaded everything onto the
sidewalk, and carried all our stuff up 6 flights of stairs. All said and
done, it only took an hour.
Our new house is quite large, at least twice the size
of our former one. We have two bedrooms now. The master bedroom has an
extension (like the porch our kitchen was on in the previous apartment) that
is glassed in and quite sunny and beautiful. In our living room, we have a
comfortable couch and two armchairs, plus a TV. Off of the living room is a
real bathroom, with a sink, and a toilet and a shower. But, get this, the
toilet is not IN the shower, and itís not sitting on top of a squat toilet.
Could it get any better than this? Actually, it can. We also have an
awesome kitchen. Despite the emphasis on food in the Chinese culture,
kitchens are often overlooked by the Chinese architects. But by some fluke,
our apartment actually has a large kitchen that is nearly the same size as
the living room. And we now have a two burner stove instead of only one
burner. We can cook two pots at once! We still donít have an oven of
course, although our friend Pat rescued the miniature toaster oven from his
apartment and gave it to us, so we can now toast bread.
Our first night in the new place was quite chaotic.
The two teachers weíre inheriting it from werenít leaving until early the
next morning, so the apartment was strewn with the remnants of their
packing. Plus, Pat had just finished his school contract and was kicked out
of the school apartment but hadnít found a new apartment yet, so he stayed
with us too. Some of our Chinese friends were over, so we abandoned the
mess and all went out to eat at a nearby hotpot restaurant. Hotpot is a
delicious part of the Chinese cuisine which hasnít yet been exported to the
west. Hotpot consists of a boiling pot of water which is flavored with some
common things like garlic and ginger, but then there are some mystery twigs and
balls thrown in to give it quite a resemblance to a witches brew. Into
this, you put some thinly sliced meat, lettuce, fish balls, mushrooms, etc.
You basically cook your own meal as you go, and itís quite delicious.
The next morning, I had my first day as Teacher
Trainer, while Zac was the lucky one to stay home and clean and unpack. So
on Thursday and Friday, I spent all day helping the current teacher trainer,
whom I will be replacing, do the training for the new batch of teachers
fresh off the airplanes. But what I really wanted to be doing was playing
in my new house. In the evenings, I helped Zac with the cleaning and
organizing and sorting of things. The fun thing about moving into
apartments here is all the junk you inheritósome useful, some not. I think
it will be quite boring when we one day move into a clean, empty house.
On Saturday and Sunday, we both had to teach. Zac has
a new schedule of classes at our school, while Iím working at a different
Future School as a substitute for a teacher who is coming three weeks late.
Because the school is in a suburb of Dalian, I have to wake up at 5:30am,
and leave the house by 6:15 in order to be there to teach by 8 am. Despite
the commute, I like the school a lot and the Chinese teachers seem to enjoy
having a competent teacher to work with. In fact, I think Iím a much better
teacher there, with a fresh start, 6 months experience, and the knowledge I
only have to do it for a short time. I knew exactly what to do and I
couldnít help showing off for the parents a bit. At the end of class, the
parents started to hover around the door, so I reviewed what the students
had learned that day and called on each of them, so the parents could see
their child communicating easily with the foreigner. They ate it up. But
in truth, I had a lot of fun and it was refreshing to be in a new place.
My new job is kind of strange right now. The previous
teacher trainer is still doing the job until the end of the month, and I
havenít been formally trained yet, so when Iím not substituting, all I can
do is follow her around. Iím not quite sure how I will ever fill 40 hours a
week with this job. Maybe Iíll have to learn how to work super
inefficiently, which is never very enjoyable for me. I think I will be
officially trained by the teacher trainer trainer in the next week or two,
so hopefully it will get better. For the most part I will be using our
school as my home base, since thatís where the city office is located. So
on most days my commute to work is only a 15 minute walk. Itís quite nice.
click here for more pictures of
our new apartment