It’s Monday, March 5th and yesterday was a rather drowsy blur, so I’ll start by stating that today is my first day. Today is my first day of school; today is my first day after a full-night’s, same time zone, sleep; today is the day I get to do more paperwork and errands related to obtaining my resident work visa (the “real thing”), such as going to the hospital for medical tests (oh goodee!); today is the day I meet my kids and fellow teachers for the first time; and today is the day I might feel a bit normal since I’m not in a time-zone-change-induced stupor. Not to mention a nice shower since I haven’t taken one since France.
I arrived to little fanfare except the drumroll of my excited heart, landing on China soil for the first time ever at 5:36am. Little external fanfare but much ease in processing through customs and getting my baggage. It felt like a small airport for such a large metropolis, although apparently Chengdu is still considered “country” in many respect.
Reflection, June 14, 2018, 3 months later...
I still like seeing the city when I arise or go to bed. I love to leave my curtains open at night—all the static hues and blinking stars of fluorescence from man-made light twinkling across the city-scape—but the light keeps me awake, so I must sadly close my curtains. I have a spectacular view of my part of the city, just below the “Third Ring” road, from my 18th floor; my windows start at the floor and ready nearly to the ceiling. On clear days, of which there are few, I can see mountains. They are shaded grey far in the distance to the southwest. My flat faces almost due west, looking outward to the town that I love so much —and am visiting for the second time since my arrival in China: Kangding.
In reference to travel— and this is one of my favorite aspects of living in China—I have been able to make four separate 3-4 day sojourns around 3 of China’s provinces in the 3 1/2 months since my arrival! There have been four holidays since my arrival (including this upcoming weekend’s Dragon Boat): Qing Ming in April, Labour Day in May, and Dragon Boat in June. These are only one-day holidays, but they are tacked onto a weekend, making for a 3-4 day weekend! Additionally, I took a short weekend trip to Yunnan province with a friend. So I’ve visited Hunan, Sichuan (where I live), and Yunnan. Travel is very inexpensive, as I’ve mentioned in numerous other posts, and relatively easy. But I’ve only taken the train once; I mainly fly because bus trips eat up a full day or more of your travel time.
And of course, along with traveling, it seems everything else in China is relatively inexpensive! I mean, it’s almost ridiculous the amount of money I can save each month whilst living like a Queen—or so it feels. I can buy what I want, eat out, order take-out, shop for clothes, furnish my apartment, use a car service daily... and still have 30-50% of my income left over for savings! From food to living expenses to rent, unless you buy a lot of foreign imports, the cost of living is low (for an expat making a decent professional salary, I doubt it’s the same for blue-collar and middle-class Chinese locals, who seem to make much less—I can only speak of certified teachers).
Upon reflection, after 15 weeks in China, life is good here. It’s not easy, but it’s inexpensive. The air quality is terrible and it makes me cough constantly, but I can afford to travel each month to mountains and clean air. Life is good here; my quality of life is much, much better than it was in Texas and I’m glad to be here! I am grateful for this job opportunity, for this city, for my new friends, for my school, and for much, much more!
Oh, P.S., and my final resident permit was not complete and in-hand until Thursday, April 26, 8 weeks after my arrival!