I’m in Dalian! I have Internet, a cellphone and a new rice cooker. What more could a girl want? Moving into my apartment, shared with another PiA fellow, was amazing. Margaret arrived the day before I did, and had already cleaned the ubiquitous Chinese dust off our floors and made my bed. Our apartment is on the tenth floor of a rugged looking apartment building, but the inside is charming. We have two bedrooms, each equipped with monstrous beds. Mine is what I’m going to call a Chinese King. It feels like a King sized bed, but maybe a little shorter. It also has a wonderfully hard mattress that kind of seems more like a box spring. It takes some getting used to, but I actually really like it. Each bedroom has a huge window, one wall of floor to ceiling closets, and a desk. Our bathroom has a real shower stall (hard to come by in China) and a mini washing machine that we haven’t attempted to use yet. We have a clothes drying rack outside Margaret’s window! (When in China…hang your clothes out to dry in the humid, polluted air!) Our kitchen has a toaster oven, gas burner, and a hot pad for boiling water. The people who lived here before us, also PiA fellows, left behind all of the essentials like soap, shampoo, and dish liquid, as well as a huge collection of books, teaching resources, and a map of Dalian. It was really nice being able to move right in and feel at home without having to buy a bunch of stuff.
The past four days have flown by. I’ve spent most of my time with the three other PiA fellows here: Margaret, Matt and David. We also met another American teacher here, Eric, who taught English last year in Chengdu. We’ve done pretty much everything together, from talk to landlords to figure out how different things around the house work, to going on adventures around town to find cellphones and a electric hair/beard trimmer– in the land where every man has a buzz cut, it was remarkably hard to find! I’ve enjoyed hearing Chinese all around me, but have been timid about trying to say things sometimes. I’m sure the confidence will come with time as I regain and relearn the Chinese that I’ve forgotten over the past year since I’ve taken classes.
This morning we met with the English deparment teachers, who gave us a campus tour and answered our zillions of questions about teaching. They really give us free reign to do pretty much whatever we want with our classes. We asked for some sort of example syllabus, or if we could sit in on a class that they taught, and they said, “We don’t want to control your minds! You can be creative.” So creativity it is! We are having a lesson planning powwow right now, but instead of planning my first lesson, I’m writing this. My first class, English Writing I, is on Wednesday. I’ll let you know how it goes!
P.S.- I can’t access Facebook or my blog right now, so I’m posting this through email. When I figure out how to get around the Great Firewall of China, I’ll post pictures!