Several people have emailed us and said how much they envy our lives and what a rosy, unblemished experience we must be having in China. I realized that I must not be giving an accurate picture in our blog, so here's a long list of our complaints!
Language barrier! Not being able to understand teachers, other parents, ask questions in shops, find books, etc.! We walk around a lot feeling totally inept and stupid! We feel totally dependent at times on other people and it feels strange to be so helpless! We are lucky that the Chinese are so helpful and considerate to us!
Being illiterate. We can't read a single street sign, advertisement, newspaper, piece of mail, food label, text message or anything else. So we have to guess a lot and rely on other people. It can be incredibly frustrating.
No towels or TP in the bathrooms! No public bathroom, school, restaurant, university or store bathroom as any toilet paper for the backside, or paper towels to wipe your hands with. You have to remember to bring your own tissue and if you forget it's SO inconvenient! Especially with Sophie who may have to poo at the drop of a hat! You always see the Chinese walking out of the bathrooms with dripping wet hands, and now we do the same.
Low Flushability. You cannot flush toilet paper in China, so you have to put used paper in a wastebasket next to the toilet. This took some getting used to and it is a gross aspect of life in China!
The questions that people ask! Everyone is intensely curious about us! Why do we have a Chinese daughter? What do we do? Where do we live? How much money do we make? How old are we? Why do we have 3 children? What is our religion? What is in our shopping cart? What is in the kids' book bag?
No parks to take the kids to kick the ball around. In the city we haven't found any open fields for the kids to run around in. They really want to go play soccer or something, but we live in a concrete jungle. We can go out to the forests and other beautiful places but there's not really any place for the kids to play outdoors that isn't concrete.
Constant construction everywhere. The constant noise from construction activity occurs all hours of the day. The city is noisy and busy to begin with, but the construction is very loud. Sometimes there are bad fumes that come from these sites. What are they? I don't want to know.
Our gross stairwell. We come up 6 floors of tiring stairs everyday, carrying book bags, groceries, household goods, and of course, Sophie! Most people don't bother to take their garbage downstairs so they leave trash and cigarette butts everywhere and it's really quite disgusting!
Shopping for clothes and everything else is so much work! In the U.S., you go the store, get what you want, and go home. Here, there is a lot of work explaining what we want, trying to find the right sizes for everyone, and fitting our US expectations into Chinese stores is very difficult! Then once you get something you want, you have to schlep it home on your bicycle which can be an ordeal, especially in bad weather!
Kids don't want to do ANYTHING! I'm not sure if this is just a China complaint, but the boys just want to stay home and play Runescape, while Sue and I want to go out adventuring. They feel burned out from an entire week of school so they feel like they want to stay home and do nothing on the weekends and be "cave goblins" as they put it!
The food! The boys are sick of Chinese food and after going to the work of having our ayi cook something, or trying to find a suitable restaurant, they often turn their noses up at the result. Very frustrating! We break down many times and buy them Western food which they usually like.
Sleeping conditions! Sophie sleeps in our room in our small apartment, and has had a couple of colds which leaves her hacking at night, or she gets up wanting juice, milk, attention, etc. Sometimes she gets up 5 times a night lately leaving us exhausted. The construction tails off about 10pm and starts up at 5am. Our sleeping sucks!
So there you have it folks - the real poop! Personally, I think our time here has been incredibly wonderful and I'm so glad that we get the chance to be here for a whole year. Like anything, it has its ups and downs so I regret if I have made previous blog entries sound too rosy! It ain't easy much of the time, but nothing that's "worth it" is ever easy.