We haven't had a Cultural Liaison at school for several months, making everything twice as difficult, despite the fact that our wonderful Asst. Principal is pulling double duty--make that three jobs now-- as Cultural Liaison, IB Director, and Asst. Principal.
That aside, my school offered to help me find an apartment, but I wanted to try on my own first. Luckily, the very first one I looked at was perfect, and through 2 weeks of hassles, it is finally mine! My situation may differ from those finding housing on their own, who speak the language, and handle the contract signing.
- Bring your requirement/dream list and visit the complex you like, or any Lianjia home locator agency . Make sure your phone has a translator app installed!
- Expect the agent to show you many apartments that are the exact opposite of what you want, or that have none of the requirements you requested.
I am finally in the apartment, but spent a few nights without gas for cooking and hot water, along with no WIFI. Ugh. I am convinced that speaking Mandarin would have made this entire process much easier; perhaps still with hassles, but minus the frustration caused by pure misunderstandings!
WIFI - China Telecom is a bureaucratic nightmare modeled on the most inefficient and stupid entity which comes to mind, governmental or not. I officially despise this company and their methods. Three times I visited their office to get my WIFI service switched from my old apartment to my new place. The first visit, on the last day of the month, they claimed I could not make an appointment for the following day because, since it was the end of the month, appointments cannot be made in the new month. Thus, I would have to return the next day, in the new month of September, to have service connected in September. The second visit was a fail, because they couldn't schedule a time convenient to me and wanted me to come back again, the next day, to schedule an appointment for that day. One of the guys in the shop was also a complete A-hole. On the third try, I achieved an appointment, but didn't know it, because both the clerk's translation APP and mine were translating non-sensical words; I could not seem to get the clerk to answer yes or no to my question: Is a technician coming to my house tonight or not? I finally reached my school liaison (who should have been helping me with this all along, but that's another drama!), who told me that yes, I had arranged a technician and they would call prior to coming that evening. Geesh. Of course, when the techs arrived (two of them) the following day--they could not come that day because they said it would be a two hour job and they were already running late at another job, which was also taking two hours, and by then it was after 6:30pm--they claimed that the router had to be placed in the middle bedroom, not in the living room. After an hour of back-and-forth with the school liaison, a neighbor teacher, translation APPS, and both technicians, I finally convinced them to place the router in the living room. It was all rather stupid, since the connection box was idiotically placed in the bottom cabinet of the kitchen and they would have to run a wire through the dining room and living room, down the hall, across the ceiling, and into the guest room. So why not shorten the wire and put it in the living room where the WIFI is most accessible to the rest of the house? Who the hell knows My friend had to actually send a video of her set up, which I showed to one of the techs, and he quickly exclaimed: "Oh, okay, no problem!" in English. WTF? In the end, I have WIFI but not TV, which happens to run through the same damn company and is somehow connected to the WIFI set up. There is supposed to be a "box" that enables the cable channels, or something like that, which is missing. Back to the landlord, who doesn't speak English. In that comment, I am NOT implying he should--I am the guest in China, and I am the one who should be speaking a second language in their home country, not vice versa. I am implying that it will be another round of communication struggles and frustrations, just like yesterday, with the gas problem. Oh, yeah. There's that... sigh.
Anyway, I have WIFI, so yay!
To be continued... The gas saga...