Settling Into My New Home & Job

I’ve been back in China for just over a week, but we’ve been so busy packing our things, moving and starting our new jobs, that it really feels like I’ve been here for weeks already! I’m shocked when I think I’m back only 1 week!

From arriving back in Chengdu, both myself and my fiancé were busying packing the remainder of our things, moving them into two vans we booked, moving into our new place, meeting new teachers (all male by the way, so I’m really outnumbered) … and finally work on Monday! So we were quite busy when we arrived back!

With most of our things unpacked, we can finally relax in our new apartment and area where we are living. Our university that we work in has two campuses; one for the 1st and 2nd years, and another for the older students. We live in ‘villa’ sort houses in the campus for the older students. The building where we live only has 3 floors, and they are dedicated solely to the foreign teachers; each building houses 3 teachers… so it’s refreshing not to be surrounded by people below you, above you, and either side of you! We live on the ground floor, so we just have another teacher living above us.

Apartment wise, it’s a BIG improvement to our old apartment…. our new place is absolutely HUGE! I’m pretty sure the whole of our old apartment could fit into our new bedroom. Now if I lose something, I could be looking for 10 minutes for it! Theres actually too much space now! Another good is that we actually have a U shaped sofa!!!! No more do I have to put up with our tiny, crappy, uncomfortable sofa from the old place. Our shower is fantastic (the shower head didn’t work very well in the other place), we now have a big dining table and a proper bed (instead of just a mattress on the floor).

We also have big air conditioning units in both the living area and the bedroom. Our toilet is a huge improvement too! In the old apartment, their was literally no water pressure whatsoever in our toilet, so we always needed a big bucket of water to give everything a helping hand…

The only problem with this apartment is the lack of a cooking area. Now I don’t usually cook anyway, but it’s always nice to have the option. Here we just have a portable electric stove top … and it’s actually broken. Plus we have no electric fan to get rid of the food smell. So that’s one negative thing about the place.

But apartment wise, so far I really like it!

As for my job, I feel this has been a REALLY long week! Every foreign teacher here teaches 1st year students, and whatever lesson plan we do for our first class of the week, then we use that one for the remainder of the week….. so it does become very very monotonous! I have 10 classes, so I have to repeat the exact same lesson plan 10 times. Sure it’s easy, but when it comes to the 6/7th time of doing the exact same thing, it does grate on me a little. That’s why it feels like such a long week.

Most of my students are girls, with only 4/5 boys in each class, and generally they are ok. Some of their English is atrocious though, so I really don’t know how I’m going to teach these kids anything if they can’t even get the basics right. But thankfully the school doesn’t put pressure onto the foreign teachers, so we are free in doing whatever we want in class. It’s up to the students to try and learn!

Location wise, because we are outside the city, I really do feel a bit lonely and isolated here. As I said before, I loved my previous area where I lived. Now… it takes 1 hour by bus to even get to our nearest ATM! By taxi it would take 30 minutes to get to somewhere where there is a decent amount of people…. so yeah, I do feel very isolated from everything. I don’t think I could live here for longer than 1 year.

For food, we’ve only had one dish which we have really enjoyed. Because we are located where students live, the restaurants near us aren’t exactly good quality or flavoursome. Yeah it’s cheap, but the food is very basic and I don’t particularly enjoy some dishes. Also each restaurant basically serves the exact same thing, so it’s hard to find a good meal here!

So there are some positives and negatives of moving. One good thing is that we are guaranteed money each month so we can save for our wedding and what not. We are guaranteed the same holidays as the students, and with the amount of walking and cycling I do… I’m optimistic I’ll lose some weight!

I know I’m going to feel down some days and just wishing I could leave, but I’m glad I didn’t come here by myself… I don’t think I could last!

再见

爱玲

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Everything Is Stressing Me Out

I’m beginning to become so so annoyed at China and everything it has to do with it. Nothing seems to be going to plan…. our uni may not let us transfer our semesters to someone else; all we need to do is for the person to give us the money instead of to the school. That’s the only difference. Because the Uni already has our money, the person taking over our semester just gives us their money instead.

I have no idea why, because at first they said that once we could find someone that would be willing, no problem. But now we find out that maybe that’s not possible. I’m just so angry. I really don’t want to lose out on about 700euro. Plus I’m stuck here with no job and with stupid neighbours.

And that’s another thing that is driving me mad: our neighbours.

A few months ago we had to deal with the neighbours below us listening to the tv until 1am. I had to go down to them twice and tell them to lower the volume. The second time they didn’t even bother to answer the door to me, just talked through it.

NOW, we have the upstairs neighbour at it. Plus, from about 2pm to 5:30pm, they have 3 people drilling into their floor with machines… so we can barely hear ourselves during this time.

Then, last night they had their tv on so loud that I had to put the volume on my laptop to the highest… and I could STILL hear them.

I’m just so fed up; people have no respect or regards for their neighbours.

Then my company where I used to work still hasn’t replied back to me about giving me a recommendation letter, yet they want us to go in and sign some forms for something. I’ve worked with them for 3 years yet they don’t have the decency to write back to me. They can’t be bothered about why I left and what were the problems. Nope… no ‘Oh I’m very sorry Aisling that you feel this way… maybe if you’d like you can come to the main office and we can discuss what made you feel you had to leave.’

Nada. No email whatsoever about actually caring.

And when I do go and meet the to fill those things in, I’m going to tell them how I feel. They can’t treat their employees that way. All the things I did for them; having loads of resigns, happy students, I wasn’t a hard teacher to work with, actually doing my job while others did nothing-lost students but still got paid a huge amount for being a crap teacher… yet that apparently means nothing to them.

I’m just in a ranting mood today. All our plans are slowly being unravelled, and I have no idea how everything will pan out.

I love China.. don’t get me wrong. But my heart was set on leaving in the summer. I just want to leave now.

And we might be stuck here for another 8/9 months.

I’m just stressed out. I hope everything sorts itself out. And these neighbours quiet down. Or I’ll have to make a trip upstairs next time!

再见

爱玲

What I’ve Hoarded Since Coming To China

What I’ve Hoarded Since Coming To China

With the idea of going home in a few months time, I’ve gradually realised that I have hoarded quite a lot of things since my time here! I look around the apartment thinking ‘I need to bring that back home, need to bring this back….and this…..and this too… oh and this!

And the list goes on and on…

From bringing just a 50L and a carry on bag to China…. I’ve now got those two bags, plus a 30L, a 5L and 3 schoolbags.

From coming to China I’ve now got 3 coats.

2 bikes

About 10/15 Chinese books

3 towels

3 sets of quilts and 4 pillows

An extra 5/6 pairs of shoes

Plus loads of clothes…

I certainly won’t be able to bring all of that home!

There are always foreigners arriving in Chengdu all the time, so hopefully we’ll be able to sell a few bits like the quilts and what not.

But it really has amazed me how much I’ve collected!

We also have one big box and bag full of discarded clothes. They have been lying here for months because we don’t know where we can leave them. We don’t exactly just want to leave them outside our building. I had left some old shoes there once and an hour later they were gone! So I know people will take them, but I feel sort of bad doing it. I’d rather bring them to a donation shop or recycle them…unfortunately most Chinese don’t know what recycling is… so in the end we might just leave them outside.

As for our bikes… I really want to bring them home with me. I love my bike…. but if I only stay a short while in Ireland then I might not even use it. . . and because of the area in Mexico which we plan to go to sometime in the future, it’s full of hills so it’s definitely not an ideal place to have a bicycle.

So we’ll see what the price is to bring them to Ireland and if it’s worth it. My old one which I got when I first came here has been parked at the buildings staircase (gathering dust) for the past 8/9 months, so I’ll try and sell that one at least.

My plan is (hopefully) not buy too many more things before we leave… I know I’ll be in a tizzy when the time comes and I’ll be desperately trying to sort out things that I can just about throw away.

I really hate leaving things behind!

再见

爱玲

The Perfect Apartment Is Very Hard To Find (In Chengdu Anyway)

With Chinese Spring Festival arriving soon and with our apartment contract expiring in March, we decided to get a head start on apartment hunting for our next year in China. After the Spring Festival, everyone will be in a mad rush to look for an apartment, so they will likely be snatched up pretty quickly after the festival.

As we will be away a week prior to the festival, we decided to start today looking for some. Ideally we want to stay in the community that we are already in; it’s in an ideal place, located beside a main road but there is also a back entrance where restaurants are located and we can also go to school and work that way.  So that is one thing. Another one is because the metro is now just a 10/15 minute walk away. Finally, we don’t really want to be lugging our things miles away!

When we were looking for apartments before, we got a Chinese person to help us… but this time we decided to have a go by ourselves! In our community there is an estate agent so  we went to them and they asked us what type of apartment we wanted, the price etc. He showed us some pictures on his ipad and we chose to see 5 of them.

Off we went on our little adventure!

The first one was located on the 2nd floor and out of the 5, and we thought this was the best one which we had seen. I’d prefer if it was located a bit higher, but I suppose we wouldn’t need to take the elevator! We looked for all the necessities: air con, comfy sofa and what not.

So… the first one was ok. Let’s check out the rest.

Well, the last 4 weren’t exactly in the best shape. In one, the kitchen was full of mouse droppings. Another had a bad stain on the bed. In another, the sofa wasn’t in a very good condition.

When we finished viewing them all, my boyfriend said “Every apartment has imperfections… that’s fine… but there are just TOO MANY  imperfections”.

That was the problem; all the apartments just aren’t looked after well enough; the sofas are old and dirty, there’s mould on the side of the wall, they didn’t paint a bit of the wall, a lightbulb (or many) are broken, no curtains, a broken drawer,the lock on a window is broken, theres no table….All these little things add up though. With the first one, there were imperfections, but not as many as the others.(that we could see) haha maybe that’s why we liked it more.

Oh and one thing that really drives me mad..and it seems many Chinese people like these; putting tacky stickers on the walls. AAAGHH it drives me mad! Stickers of flowers or cartoons adorn walls and on fridges.. I really don’t know what they were thinking “oh this wall looks plain, I’ll stick some green leaves so we can pretend we are in a forest”

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AAAGGHH…TOO…MANY…STICKERS…

And the thing is, if you try and rip them off, half the paint comes off with it, because it’s cheap paint. Oh I’ll never understand this love of stickers…

I could imagine the apartments and what they were like when they were brand new; shiny, clean… but you can see that the landlords just don’t put the effort into them anymore… every year they are getting shabbier and shabbier looking. It’s a pity though. They would be pretty nice apartments if they were maintained.

When we came back to our current one, we realised why we chose this one; there weren’t many imperfections. The walls were just painted, the kitchen was fine. It was presentable and clean looking. The only thing was the paint stains on our sofa, so we quickly covered that with a throw-over, and we can’t put heavy things in our kitchen shelf or else the weight will break it, oh and our coffee tables leg is broken. (ok so there are also a few imperfections in our current apartment!)

We could easily stay in the one we are in right now, but of course with the new metro opened, the landlady is just dying to increase the rent by 300yuan per month. about €41. Fine… just get us a door for our bedroom, fix our shelf.. oh and buy us a decent sofa.. then we’ll pay it! But right now… nope, it’s not worth the extra money.

But anyway…that’s the problem about apartment hunting in China. Unless you want to pay huge amounts of money, you’re going to end up with somewhere that needs some TLC.

So tomorrow we will head out again in our search; contact some agencies from outside our community. Maybe they can help us find a suitable one!

再见

爱玲

Our Secret Dog

Throughout our stay in China, we have encountered many many dogs! People here love dogs…but in Chengdu… they are obsessed with one particular kind.

POODLES

My god how I loathe these dogs. Poodle here… poodle there…. theres a black poodle, oh over there is a brown one… another white one then appears… They are EVERYWHERE.

A few years ago they have become the top dog for people to get. ‘Oh, poodles must be the ‘in dog’ now…. I MUST  get one so I can be like everyone else.’

So…. literally everybody has poodles. And I really don’t like them.

To me, when I look at them, they just seem like there is nothing going on inside of their heads. Fluff or air is floating about. Even their fur isn’t nice and soft. Plain and simple; I just don’t like them.

I actually nearly kicked one once when it was dark out. By accident of course, but I wouldn’t be THAT sorry if I did. I must admit though, the puppies are a tiny bit cute… but that’s it.

So thankfully, at least from what I’ve been seeing… there are other breeds of dogs creeping up. Plenty of poodles are still about, but at least now there are more breeds of dogs, particularly husky type ones.

Although I do feel like sorry for them; summer in Chengdu is definitely not the place for these huge dogs, it’s just too hot for them. Owners really should take this into consideration when buying ones. Plus being cramped up in apartments isn’t ideal.

But one dog really has caught our attention. We name him Beag, and he is our ‘secret’ dog. Beag is ‘little’ in Irish.

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2/3 months ago was when we first saw him; he was outside our apartment and was barking. When we opened the door, he suddenly ran to the public stairs and started growling at us. Then he just disappeared down the stairs.

At this time it was about 9/10pm. We were wondering why he was out by himself roaming up and down the building.

Then, we started seeing him almost every day! He would be outside the building sniffing about.. and he could be outside for hours! We were a little worried; where are his owners.. are they not worried in case he gets into danger??

Then one night, we came out of the lift to our apartment floor and the wee dog was just waiting for us!

This time he was so playful and running all over the place, I think he just wanted to play with us. It was so strange to see him on our floor. How did he manage to get up here? Maybe he lives a few floors up or down?

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When we found him on our floor. Look at the size of those ears!

We didn’t know what to do with him… Every time we tried to open our door, he would try and come in… we even tried to put him in the lift to put him on another floor, but he realised and ran straight out. If we brought him to our place, it would be harder to get him out… or he could start barking outside the door wanting to be let in. Although we were very tempted to bring him in with us. Pretend we had our own dog for a while.

But we couldn’t… So we quickly put him in the lift again and down he went to another floor. At least we would have time to get into our apartment.

Since then, when we wait for the lift, and when the doors open…. who appears but Beag! I’m guessing maybe the owners put him in it and send him down; too lazy to bring him out themselves.

He knows us now, so whenever he sees us he runs over so we can pet him. He’s such a cute dog.

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So Beag has become our secret dog…. We both would love to have one of our own, but at the moment it’s just not possible. Our apartment is way too small, plus if you go away on holidays or for a day, where would we put it?

But we can dream a little with Beag!

再见

爱玲

 

Working, Studying & Living: Sorting It Out

For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing what to do with our lives for the next year… and finally we’ve come up with a plan.

Working: Because I’m making hardly any money at the moment… although I do love the free time that I have, I’ve resorted having to go back to full time, well 15 working hours a week. This in my company is ‘full-time’.  I’ve managed to keep only working 3 days a week which is just great. I will dread the day when I have to work 7 hours 5 days a week. I’m really being spoilt here.

So working full time means I will be guaranteed my wage every month, whereas right now I’m paid by the amount of hours I teach.. so during the summer time I hardly get paid anything because students go on holidays.

Studying: We’ve also decided that this semester will be our last in our current Uni. I’ve really grown fond of it, plus I enjoy classroom based teaching. But every semester we are finding it harder and harder to get up in the morning. And at the end of the day I still have to pay 1 year tuition. We will miss everyone that we have met, even my teachers. All of them are so nice.

Instead of learning at the Uni, I will continue going to my private lessons in a private language school. It’s only 15 minutes walk from my apartment so it’s very convenient.

And as for Living: Unfortunately due to the enormous cost of rent in Xiamen, we decided to stay in Chengdu. It’s just too expensive. I really love the place, but I don’t want to be worrying about bills and rent just because I want to live somewhere sunny and pretty. I’d rather save my money and go travelling. Instead, when our apartment contract is finished, we will look at some apartments in the community that we already live in. We like where we live and we don’t want to have to lug our things miles away. Because we are going to be earning more, we want to upgrade to a bigger apartment… haha we might even get a balcony, and even a door for our bedroom!!

So right now, we are sorting out my boyfriends Mum and Dad’s visa to come to visit here, let our company know that in December I will be able to teach more students (they will surely be delighted with this), and begin to sort out the dreaded work visa for next year.

Every foreigner in Chengdu dreads that time of year when their visa expires. Enrolling in Uni is the easiest way to get one… but because we will be getting a work visa, we will need to go to Hong Kong on a ‘visa run’ as people say, plus we will get a medical certificate done.

I’m not too fond of going to Hong Kong. It’s expensive and crowded. However maybe this time round it might be different with my boyfriend being with me.

I hate having to sort visa stuff out. The people working there are not at all friendly and they can deny you a visa without giving any explanation whatsoever. Plus if you don’t have 1 piece of paper, that’s it: go home and come back when you get it. Oh and they need like 10 photocopies of every piece of paper you have. Oh they are very picky!

So, we’ve managed to sort out our plan for next year…. ha I won’t think too much ahead just right now or I’ll panic again!

再见!

爱玲

Checking Out Xiamen

The flights are paid for and the hostel is booked, so it wont be long until we check out our (maybe) future city where we plan to move to. Having had our eye on Xiamen for a while, we decided the summer is the best time to visit, with us going on a little trip with our friends to Western Sichuan, then with my boyfriends sis and boyfriend visiting in August, it was now or never.

Because Uni finishes the 24th of June, we decided to travel the 27th for a few days. We can see the city, check out the weather, food, environment, apartments, and where we may be working at. From what I’ve seen, it looks very nice, and we have gotten in touch with 2 people who already live there and they are very positive about the city, so I hope we will enjoy it too. Although I know for certain that apartments are much more expensive than Chengdu.

What’s also good is that there are direct flights from Amsterdam straight to Xiamen, so only a short flight from Dublin to Amsterdam, then plain sailing to Xiamen. That’s definitely good… especially when my family comes to visit one day.

But if this city isn’t up to what we expected, I suppose we’ll just have to research more about another city that takes our fancy. Ideally we would like somewhere that has Western supermarkets like Metro, Carrefour and the likes, the winters aren’t especially cold… oh and good weather!

When the weather is good in Chengdu, there aren’t very many places to go and enjoy it, unless you have the opportunity of being able to get onto the roof of your building. Or you have a balcony, which we don’t.  When you go to a park, masses of people are there… so every seat is taken. Plus, every one of these seats will of course be in the shade. Damn it, I’m from Ireland, we don’t get ANY sun, let me enjoy it in Chengdu at least!

Furthermore, my boyfriend is from Mexico where the weather is great, so he really isn’t keen on the weather here.

So our time here in Chengdu is ticking away… and just maybe I might be posting from Xiamen next year.

再见

爱玲