Wednesday, August 29, 2018

In Xi'an - first post

Now that I have internet via hotspot from my phone, I'm getting around to posting about my experiences in Xi'an as a teacher at an international school in this historic city.

On late Sunday afternoon, I arrived in Beijing. The process was a bit longer than anticipated - waiting in line to go through immigration, shuttle train from international to domestic terminals, security screening, and more. I was thankful to see that all my luggage arrived from the 13 hour Chicago to Beijing flight as well as the Milwaukee to Chicago flight. After collecting the pieces, I had to go through another security screening with the luggage. If only there were the perks of Global Entry here. The one medication I was taking with me drew extra attention and further scrutiny, but thankfully they let me keep all the bottles. After another short scan of all the luggage, I then waited in line for domestic transfer. Relieved of my luggage, I quickly went to the gate and was one of the last ones on the plane. Those 2+ hours went by quickly!

In a little over 2 hours, I landed in Xi'an. Alas, two of my suitcases did not arrive with me, likely due to the short amount of time after I dropped off the luggage for transfer. Thankfully the airport said they would deliver the suitcase to the school address the next day. The school principal and nurse were there to greet me. The principal took me to my apartment. After taking a brief, lukewarm shower (the gas hookup needed some attention) by maintenance staff, I went to bed. I sat down on the bed and heard a THUD. It was so hard, I could knock on it. Tired, I gave it a try, hoping that the A/C and nice comforter were enough comforts to override the rock-hard "mattress." Thankfully my down pillow was in the suitcase that arrived with me, so I had another softer item. After a non-so-super sleep, I got up to enjoy the sunrise. I had quite an overview from the 34th floor, the top floor of the building. No, it's not a penthouse.
Sunrise from the enclosed balcony on the 34th floor
I proceeded to unpack and put items away. A few hours later, a gal from the agency the school partners with came to take me to IKEA. Later we also went to the gas company to pay $30 for 2 months worth of gas. A rep from the cell phone company came right to my apartment and set up my service. For $15 a month, I have unlimited data, but after 20 GB,  the data is slowed to 3G. The school was able to communicate with the airport to deliver my baggage to my apartment complex, so the evening was spent unpacking that and setting up/unwrapping IKEA items. For a later supper, one of the teachers took me to a shopping mall where we ate at a Japanese restaurant.

The next morning I had to go with a school nurse downtown to a government clinic for foreigner workers entering China as well as Chinese people seeking to study/work abroad. Because we arrived early, my turn in the queue was not long and after going through the multiple stations (ultrasound, x-ray, blood, vision, etc), we were done. In the afternoon, the gal from the agency went with me to a supermarket that also had imported items. Although I was able to figure out most items, she helped decipher a few labels that were only in Mandarin and lacked visual clues. Now that I had a screwdriver, I was able to assemble my couch table. My apartment was coming together. Below are a few photos of each room.

Living room and enclosed balcony (a rod can be cranked down so you can hang laundry from hangers). Note the identical building as seen through the balcony window

Dining room table and door entry

Master bedroom with closet

Master bedroom and view

Spare bedroom with slightly less hard real mattress

Spare bedroom desk and closet. I'll try doing my drawing here.

Bathroom with washing machine that is complex and all in Mandarin

Shower with just a short lip - easy for water to overflow onto bathroom floor

Kitchen with two burners and no oven. Refrigerator is very narrow.

Spare room with raised storage. I presume a bedroll could be placed on top of it. The next part of the building blocks out most light.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Visa in hand (finally); Xi'an bound

After multiple authentications, notarizations, governmental letters of invitation, and a visit to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago,  my two-month+ process to get a Chinese "Z" work visa has finally yielded results. I have missed orientation week and the first week of school but will soon join the staff and students at the new facilities of Liangjiatan International School in Xi'an.  On Saturday morning I will leave the land of cheese & brats and exchange it for chopsticks and noodles. Bring on year 17 of international teaching! I will have a spare bedroom, so visitors are welcome!

Purple spike flowers bathed in golden light #flowers #flowerpower #flowers_super_pics #flowerstagram #flowermagic #landscapephotography #nature_perfection #simplybeautiful #landscapelovers #natures_marvels #instatravel #madisonphotographymeetup #thecameracompany

Walking down the pavilion pathway at Olbrich Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin #wisconsin #midwest #igerswisconsin #thecameracompany #olbrich #travelwisconsin #pavilion #gardenlove #madisonphotographymeetup #simplybeautiful #garden #olbrichgardens #madisonwi