We still didn’t have hot water. Over the weekend, we had to take showers in Brandon’s and Dr. Walker’s apartment. As you could imagine, it was somewhat uncomfortable. I woke up early Sunday to clean the apartment. When we moved in, it was very dusty. It needed a good wipe down. I couldn’t get my flat irons to work the night before, so I had a roller set in my hair. To our surprise, Sherry and Dr. Orkwis stopped by. They are from UC, and were only in China for a few days to ensure everything worked out with our move. The Chinese seem very accustomed to the cold weather here in Chongqing. Everywhere we go, they always have on their coats. Buildings are not heated, so multiple layers are needed. We went for lunch with Sherry and Dr. Orkwis near our apartments. It was a very small restaurant, and it had about three tables inside. We took up most of the place, and there were about nine of us. The restaurant had the doors wide open like it was 40 something degrees outside. For lunch, I ate eggs and tomatoes, which has been most of my meals. Every place makes them different, so it seems like I have a variety of options every time.
Today was the day we finally had a chance to meet the students. They were just as excited as we were. They were takings pics of us, and we were taking pics of them. We (professors and TA’s) introduced ourselves to the students. We pretty much got hand claps and blank stares most of the time. The students were afraid to ask questions in a large group setting, so we divided in small groups. They have a lot of personality, but some understand English better than others. The person who understands it the most, translates it in Chinese to the others in their small clicks. It is hard to break them apart from their clicks, so it will be challenging to find their individual strengths. Chuyu, one of the students in my group, is a very sweet boy. He admitted that he was afraid I wouldn’t understand his English. I admitted it would be a struggle for both of us, but I also ensured him we would manage. I told him there is nothing to be afraid of because we are here to help them.
Alyssa wanted to check out the dorm rooms, so I asked Chuyu to show us around. He showed us to his dorm room, which was a typical size were are used to in the US. The down side: there were four students instead of two in one room. They had loft-bunks with their desks and drawers under the loft. The bathroom was on the balcony, and the toilet was a hole in the ground. The sink was outside of the shower and toilet area. The entire area was dirty and disgusting. I can’t imagine living in those conditions on an everyday basis.
Today was the first day of classes. We were excited as all get out! Well, until we made it to the classrooms. Remind you the buildings are not heated! Whoever drew a line in China, and decided anyone who lived below this line didn’t need heat needs to be… You know the rest! I could not believe how cold it was. I know we get cold winters in the Midwest, but you have not experienced this type of cold yet. My Titi Evy was complaining about how it snowed again, but at least they have heat. I am sorry to go on and on about the cold, but it is just something I can NEVER get used to. I remember my friend from India, Teja, who just experienced his first winter. He came from India to the US back in August. One day he asked was I accustomed to the cold, and I told him I can NEVER become accustomed to it. My blood doesn’t like it, lol. I can’t wait for it to heat up here, so I can stop complaining. Other than the first day of classes, we didn’t do much. I recognized I needed two pairs of pants, a hat, gloves, and underpants for the next day of class, but that’s it.
Another observation I made was the amount of students on this campus. I will attach a picture. As we were walking to class, there were so many students. I feel like I was at the March on Washington all over again (Mia, this made me think of you :-D). Students were coming from every direction. I have a video, but not sure I will be able to upload it with this slow connection.
I can’t remember what happened Tuesday, so it probably wasn’t important. Mondays are lectures, and every other day is labs. I spent most of the days in the labs, and in the canteens eating. For the most part, we have been eating well. I have been eating almost three meals a day, and snacks.
Wednesday was not a good day. I was feeling sick! The food finally got to me, and upset my stomach. Once I made it home, I popped a multivitamin and tried to relax. It was hard to sleep because of our next door neighbor’s dog. He has an Alaskan Huskie, and it howled all night. Between that darn dog and my hard bed, it was one unpleasant night.
Although I wasn't feeling well, we tour some of the campus. CQU has a beautiful campus, consisting of two lakes and a very nice scenery. The lakes house big orange fish and three black swans. There is a wooden bridge over the larger lake. It's a very nice walk, especially on a gorgeous day. I have pics.
Today was another day of labs. As we were walking to the building, we saw a lady was a cat in a plastic bag. I kept hearing a cat yowling, and it was getting closer as the lady walked closer. Finally, I noticed the cat was tied in the bag. I don’t like cats, but that was animal cruelty. I was wondering if she was going to cook it, but I didn’t want to ask aloud. Sure enough, Alyssa asked was she going to cook it. I knew it would be one of us to ask, but I didn’t want to be the one. I am so grateful I don’t eat meat anymore.
During lab, I decided to start a Wechat account so the students can contact me. I gave one student my login, and it spread like a wild fire. I had some many requests, it made me feel important. Or not! But maybe. The only problem is that their names appear as characters, so I don’t know who they are. A few of them messaged me with their English name. I guess the rest of them will message me when they need help.
Another thing, today was 55F. I still had on a hood and gloves, like it was 20F outside. I kept thinking about my mom. She would love this weather, besides freezing in the classroom. I would say 60 degree weather was cold, and she would tell me: "You don't know what cold is. This is perfect weather." It's nice outside, but I can't enjoy it.
Lastly, I found the cure to my home sickness. Okay! Not really, but close enough. They have a coffee chai latte, which is coffee, tea, and milk. It is so delicious. It reminds me of a iced coffee, and it was only 6 Yuan. That's $1 dollar. I was in heaven while drinking my coffee chai latte. The names even sounds impressive. Haha. Well, works for me!
A few rants that came to mind:
We found out they are only providing a 400 Yuan one month’s allowance for our gas, electric, and water. A Chinese uses 300 Yuan a month on average. The way we have these “air conditioners” on blast for heat, we will definitely go over 400. Alyssa and I agree to split the difference. The way we freeze our a**es off all day long, there is no way I am coming home to cold.
We still haven’t received our per diem of 80 Yuan, which were promised. We keep hearing it is in negotiations, but we were promised that allowance. Negotiations should be over. Just frustrating!
On the upside:
We might visit a cave this weekend. Supposedly, a few caves were discovered a couple years back. This will be fun.
Btw, I am not an artist, photographer, or anything like that, but that picture of the wooden bridge looks like it belongs in a gallery in NYC. Don't you think? I am going to have it copyrighted so you can't copy it...J/K Save it as your background, it deserves a spot somewhere....
As always, I will keep you updated....Peace!