(warning : Long Catching-Up POST)
So after a break of a couple of months,in which we returned to Jerusalem to be with family and to attend to various bureaucratic things we are back in China.
The situation is a bit weird and I am not going into all the details but suffice it to say that we are now in a lovely seaside location, on the 17th floor of an 18 storey block,with a view of the mountains from the living room and the mountains and the sea from the bedroom. The apartment has all mod cons,except that the aircon is only in the bedrooms for the time being but Sunny,the lady in charge of our accommodations has said that there will be a unit in the living room “some time”.
View from living room
The journey back here was amazing. We were booked on KLM via Amsterdam with a 6 hour layover in that splendid city. WE had intended to go sightseeing but after leaving Ben Gurion at 4am and Jerusalem at 1am we were just too tired to do anything but sleep and eat at Schipol. So then we boarded the continuing flight and suddenly the air hostess asked to see our passports and when we looked alarmed said”Don’t worry I just want to move you to better seats”- imagine our surprise and delight when she led us to Business class comfy seats that lie flat and asked us if we would like champagne and Belgian chocolates! We were also presented with a huge menu on which we were to indicate our choice of meals for dinner and breakfast! They then proceeded to shower us with little extras and gifts! The only explanation for this I can come up with is that I had mentioned on Twitter that Swissair were crap and had not responded to our complaints on our previous trip back home and we had therefore chosen KLM who also had the added advantage of being cheaper and flying directly to our destination.I think maybe KLM are hoping to enroll me as a spokesman for them on Twitter and were rewarding us for my positive tweets,but that’s just a guess.
Of course we arrived in China delighted and well fed and rested.
The massive Living room
We were met at the airport by Sandra of the International Office who drove us straight to our aforementioned apartment.
It transpires that our neighbours are nearly all teachers at our university or a neighbouring one,both foreigners and Chinese. Next door we have Shannon from Texas and his wife Amber from Arkansas and their 3 small children, upstairs Jonathan from Texas and his wife Allie a Chinese American and their 2 kids,Jonathan S and Jessica also Americans and Alex from Montreal and the UK and his Chinese wife whom we have not met yet. On our floor is a guy called Bob from Scotland don’t know much about him yet. Shannon has now become known as “Wikishannon” because he is a mine of information and incredibly helpful .The first thing he did was present me with a list of bus numbers and where to take them around the area, useful bus stops down town and how to get set up with a water cooler. He then with the help of Jonathan J helped set up our broadband and wifi,since the Chinese guy from the company didn’t manage to do it.
WE were taken the next day together with a lot of other teachers,to the International hospital for our medical,and then to the bank to get set up there. They gave us sim cards for our phones and an ecard for travelling the buses,meals on campus and to use the library.
On Thursday we had our first faculty meeting which was pretty weird. WE were collected by minibus from the apartment and amazed to see about 40 foreign teachers in a huge boardroom. The first item was a long and boring talk by Kevin Lin about the structure of the university and 2 talks by veteran teachers here about their teaching styles. We then divided into two groups,those teaching EFL and those teaching other subjects. We went to a different building and met Dr. Narcisco Hayashi Domingo,the Philipinno head of the EFL department who told us to call him Matthew and who signs his emails Dr D -go figure. Most of his talk was flaunting his Phd and telling us that we have to use the books he distributed to teach. About 10 teachers will be teaching Sophomores so they started teaching on Monday, and the rest of us are all teaching Freshmen ,who only begin classes after the National Holiday,that is to say after October 7th! We are therefore on holiday now,which leaves us time to explore the city,find our way around the neighbourhood and buy stuff for the apartment.
Our neighbourhood is kind of a suburb, the city being about 3 million people and a BRT ride of 35 minutes away. The BRT is a wonder to behold. IT is a bus that runs on a raised roadway,running from 6am till 10pm and is easy and comfortable to use. Yesterday we took it to downtown and enjoyed looking out of the window and seeing the view.WE went to a shopping mall with Carrefour supermarket, a French chain and then from there we took another bus to a second huge but fancy mall where we found a shop selling imported goodies such as whole wheat pasta,curry sauce,cocoa powder,feta cheese and other rare things. The university also runs a “Shopping Bus” every Saturday morning which picks up the teachers and takes them to the Metro Supermarket downtown.
So far we are happy with our neighbourhood- one colleague described it as being in Brooklyn and the city is Manhattan.Anyway that’s really enough for this incredibly long post so I shall continue later.