We are here. The flight with FINN air was smooth and we liked the layover in Helsinki airport. It’s just the place to stock up on reindeer skin rugs if your supplies run low!!
… and then we were here! Despite dire warnings from the school Immigration was super smooth and virtually empty. They take your fingerprints a couple of times but it all worked extremely well. We collected our six suitcases and were met by my new Principal (what a welcome) who was meeting and greeting all the new staff that day.
And taken onto our apartment… which was a huge disappointment… I think that basically we have been spoilt by living at The Chatrium, which as those of you who visited us knows was 5* luxury. This is China.
To start with instead of polished chrome and glass, the lift smells musty.
The hallway is dark, crowded with neighbors bikes and our unit is right next to the ‘rubbish house’ so again somewhat stinky.
I was tired, spaced out and initially not very happy despite the huge welcome basket of fruit & provisions provided by the school.
The apartment itself is spacious, I would say probably 3 times bigger than the one in Bangkok BUT it
a) overlooks the bins
b) has threadbare thin curtains
c) has a disgusting sofa with bobbly fabric and sporting some suspicious stains…
d) there is only ONE free socket in the kitchen
The bedroom is fine and the bed comfortable (I was thankful for small mercies) but fell asleep wondering if we had made a mistake in coming here.
In the next few days I discovered that all the apartment blocks have fairly grungy lifts! That’s just the way it is is China! And the newer blocks have much less space. We went into other teachers’ flats and saw how homely they had made it. That was inspiring.
Then we discovered that we could have furniture that we didn’t like removed (this never happened in The Chatrium) so we set about using our generous relocation allowance to make the place more acceptable. We now have two decent sofas, one given and one an ex-showroom piece and extremely comfortable to sit on. We have invested in an air purifier, a smart TV and some IKEA units. Through a friend of a friend we have acquired lamps, pictures and various other bits all for free! I feel that the place is coming together now.
There is still a way to go but I am feeling much happier than that initial day. We got s cool and groovy kettle which lights up the temperature as the water boils
Have a look at the kitchen:Note how low the units are in relation to me. I think that they were made for the Asian build and not towering westerners! I am not tall but even I have to stoop slightly when chopping things up!!! Surprisingly there is a double sink but no draining board.
The school is nice and the staff couldn’t be friendlier. There is so much to sort out, to learn and to take in. The staff have been so patient with us and so understanding. In this intake all are American except one Aussie and myself. On the whole I have found them to be larger than life characters, outgoing, gregarious and can talk at both speed and volume without me needing to say a word! It’s so different from the typical British reserve. Concordia operates along Christian values with its foundation in faith and this is abundantly obvious in the way we have been welcomed.
We toured the campus and I was surprised to see most of it looking like this
With only 10 days to go before the students start. I would be panicking but everyone was totally laid back and assured me that it would all be ready on schedule. Such faith!
We have been full on all week getting Chinese SIM cards, bank accounts, Learning basic phrases, completing more online courses, sorting out health insurance and health checks. In China to qualify for a work permit we were all shipped to a nearby medical center where we had chest x-rays, ultrasound scans, eye tests, ECG and blood tests. The Chinese medical staff were not all that fluent in English and could be quite abrupt at times so we were prodded poked or flicked when they wanted us to move. At one point the dr said to me ‘you are normal’. So there you have it! I wouldn’t have thought it myself but apparently I am ‘normal’!!!
One big task was to get the WeChat app tied to our bank account. This is going to be so handy as here hardly anyone pays with cash. Everyone uses their phones to pay, even in market stalls! WeChat is like What’sAppp but with more functionality like translating and scanning.
A quick flying visit to my new library and it is full of boxes too but looks nice.
And I will for the first time in my career be responsible for fish!
And my favorite thing so far is that we don’t have to use a lanyard for our ID badge. We can use beads instead! Small things can make a big difference