Location: Changzhou, Jiangsu

August 28, 2015

WHAT THE HELL. I’m in China now. Yesterday morning I was in denial that I’m actually here. Today, it’s soaking in just a bit more.

When we got here on Thursday night, we continued traveling by taking a three-hour bus ride to get to our city. When we finally arrived at our school, all of us had to carry our three giant suitcases up five flights of stairs in the dark. I don’t want to go into what a horrific struggle that was after traveling for a day and suffering through jetlag. After much huffing and puffing we entered our rooms to find a rose, welcome note, and chocolate on our (hard, wooden plank) beds from the school- it was such a sweet gesture. The squatter life is no longer something foreign to me, but I’m still trying to get better at it. We also can’t flush our toilet paper, so that stinks (pun intended). I haven’t been able to talk to anyone from home since I landed here, but we finally got wifi this morning!

Yesterday was quite the day. We had a welcome meeting, and then went to lunch in our school’s cafeteria. Hooray for our first Chinese dish! I had rice, ate some tomato & egg concoction, as well as some corn, a celery/tofu dish and some spinach I think it was. It wasn’t all that shabby, but it will definitely take some getting used to. After lunch, we took a tour of our school, defeated an extreme organization task in our supply closet, and we had water that we needed to bring up to our rooms seeing as we can’t drink from the sinks. We went from one building, to ours, carrying a 5-gallon jug of water, up five flights of stairs and down the hall to our room. My arms turned to absolute jello and they’re still sore today! By the end of these four months, I’ll probably be stronger than I’ve ever been. After that, we freshened up and went into town to pick up some necessities for our rooms. While we were in town, I found it especially humorous that people were not only staring, but also actually taking pictures of our group! We went into Tesco, a supermarket, and it was basically a giant scavenger hunt to find everything we needed (laundry detergent, slippers, shampoo, etc). We ended up spending not even $40 on soooo much stuff! China is so damn cheap.

Unfortunately, we got off at the wrong bus stop and had to walk a crap ton of distance back to our campus carrying all of our things in our backpacks and hands. After that, we dropped everything off and headed straight back down into the suffocating humidity to walk to the night market! This place was nuts too. There was so much going on, so much for sale, and so many bizarre foods. I bought some big strawberry type smoothie thing- not even $2 USD! We then went on a trek to find Muslim noodles for dinner. Turns out, after lots of walking and some achy feet later… it may or may not exist anymore. Sleep sounded better than food though, so it was back to our campus we went. When I was walking around my room last night, I could already feel the soreness. I ended up eating some salt & vinegar chips I brought from America for dinner. It was amazing. Although, I’m already using too much of my American food stash and I’m scared it’s going to be gone before I know it!

This morning, I woke up and I could barely see the building next to me because it was so foggy! (Or is it smog?) The difference in weather from Arizona to China is insane! I ended up skipping breakfast in the cafeteria because a) I found out the wifi was working and b) I wasn’t presentable so I ended up breaking into my food stash again…

The culture shock is definitely 100% real and it hit hard yesterday. I assume that it can only go up from here and that eventually I’ll be forced to get used to it. This was undoubtedly an extreme choice for my first time traveling internationally, but I can only imagine how much I’ll grow from this experience. Being able to talk to my family and friends back home this morning comforted me a lot also. Today we find out our teaching assignments! Yay!

 

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