We realize now that going to Shanghai first was a really great idea, as it eased us into Chinese culture slowly. Coming to Hangzhou directly would have been quite a shock! I thought I was immune to culture shock but I was feeling it big time on our first couple of days in Hangzhou!
When we rolled into Hangzhou to our apartment, here is the apartment we came to. We are the third and fourth windows over from left on the top floor. There is no elevator so we hoof it up and down 6 flights of stairs several times a day.
We got to our little apartment which had no bedding, dishes, towels, or food! So, here we were in this strange city without the essentials, so our waiban, Nancy, took us to the store.
A "waiban" is the school's person assigned to help us get situated. She had assumed that we would bring all of the above items with us! Ha! King sheets and dishes in my suitcase? NOT!
Looking out the windows on both sides, this is what we saw - a huge construction zone, where they were demolishing a building (lower right) as they were building the new one.
On the other side, more construction! A huge set of new shopping areas are going up, so soon this area will be very nice. Right now however, construction continues 24 hours a day! It is very noisy, so we have been short on sleep.
so with all of this lack of basic household items, the noise and the small space we were all in SHOCK!
Here we are all crammed into the car to go to the Supermart to get some supplies for the first 24 hours. There were 5 of us plus another teacher, Alexis, plus Nancy and the driver. Eight of us in a small car the size of a Toyota Corolla! Sophie is on Alexis' lap. We are in total shock at this point!
We filled 3 shopping carts with household goods. Below are Peter, Sophie, Alexis, Nancy (our waiban), and myself.
By now it's about 8pm and Jack is getting tired!
... and finally we're back out of the store and wondering how to get all of our stuff, and all of us back into the car! I would have taken a picture of the result, but I was too dazed!
Here we are the next morning after a sleepless night, feeling pretty grumpy.
... and here we are fakin' it for the camera!
We were totally ready to MOVE to a new apartment in the first 24 hours, and I even went and looked at a few. We quickly realized however that the one we have is very clean and nice, especially compared to the ones that we saw which were pretty gross.
In our "living room", there are no windows, so the only natural light comes from the kitchen, and it is about the size of the boys' bedroom back home. It is taking a lot of getting used to, the 5 of us in such a small place!
Ultimately, we decided that we could live where we are, and spend more time out of the apartment. We haven't been here a lot in the past few days, but instead out exploring the city. It's been a lot of fun to be out exploring, and learning the language, especially since we got the bicycles. It is so much easier to carry Sophie around on the back of a bicycle than it is walking. She enjoys it, and she is getting so HEAVY to carry around, especially for the miles we have been walking! It's also incredibly warm and humid here, so we are usually drenched with sweat within the first few minutes of leaving our apartment. On top of it all, we have no internet at our apt. until around September 1!
All of these factors had really contributed to a sense of total disorientation, but things are coming together now and we finally feel much more comfortable. We have housewares, drinking water service, air conditioning, and comfortable bedding, as well as a cell phone, and my Chinese is getting better, and internet is coming so all of these things are contributing to our sense of well-being. We have been out exploring the neighborhood and now have some favorite restaurants.
School starts for Sue on Sept 3, as well as the boys, and Sophie. I start a week or two later since I have grad students, but it hasn't been pinned down yet!
So that's our little culture shock story, which hopefully I'll get uploaded soon!