We finally have internet to let you all know that we have survived our first two days in China! We were super tired after 24+ hours of travel. We found the bed in our apartment fairly comfortable. At first, we were okay temperature wise, it is very humid here and very warm, but then the electricity went off and we sweltered for what was left of the night. We came to find out that you have to pay for your electricity in advance. We are not quite sure why it came on when we were first there, maybe there was enough left from the people who had used it before to run for a few hours, but we had to buy some more before the end of the next day.
The next morning we had to be ready to meet our liaison from the college at 9 a.m. We were glad that we had thought to bring some breakfast bars with us so we had something to eat. Eva (aka Zhuang Xinhong) was there right at 9 and she was going to take us to the local police station so that we could get registered and there for be in the country legally. When we got to the police station, we were informed that the person who handles those things would not be in today and we would have to wait until tomorrow. After that, Eva showed us where to go and how to go shopping for food and other things we would need. She went above and beyond the call of duty by staying with us the entire day. (Some of the other couples only had a few hours of their liaison’s time, glad that wasn’t us!) We had lunch at a KFC and then for dinner, after she showed us the campus, we went to a REAL Chinese restaurant. The menus were in pictures and Chinese characters, so Eva read off everything to us. It was actually a Suzhan style restaurant where ALL of the food is spicy! She helped us choose dishes that were less spicy (thank goodness!) and then we had a nice meal. Different regions of China are known for different styles of cooking.
Maybe we were rather naïve, but we didn’t take a lot of cash money with us but we were also told that we could use our ATM cards in the airport and get Yuan there. I’m not sure if we were told the wrong information or if we just didn’t find the right place to do it, but we could not get them to accept our cards and they did not have an ATM machine that we saw. (Of course we were working on little or no sleep at the time and the people directing us to places in the airport were only concerned that we got on the correct next flight or to a hotel), but we left Shanghai before we could find an ATM and there were none in the airport in Jinan. The people that were there to meet us from the university were mostly interested in getting us to our apartments and then getting home themselves for the night. So the next day, we also set out to find a way to get money, but all the banks we went to turned us down. Eva lent us some and the next day the university forwarded us some to be paid back when we get our first pay from them. So, we are set for a little while now.
We were supposed to be living in a complex for foreign teachers and have another couple from the BYU China Teacher Program living below us, but their university decided to have them live on campus (and in much poorer conditions than the apartment would have been. We were concerned about where they were and Eva was able to find out where they were located. The apartment they were supposed to go to contained a lot of things that had been set up and saved for those in the program (cell phones, printers, cooking equipment, linens, etc.), so we got the manager for the apartment to let us in to get some of the stuff. We were hurriedly trying to get everything we thought was most useful out of the apartment and into ours, when the manager (doesn’t speak any English at all) told Eva that there was an apartment on our campus that was available. We were first told months ago that there were no apartments large enough on campus for a couple, only singles, so that is why we were being sent to the complex that we were sent to. We went to look at this apartment. It was a little smaller than the one that was set up for us originally, but it still had two bedrooms and enough room for us and it would also make it easier for them to register us on the campus than off the campus, so with all things considered (the traffic for the commute to the campus probably being the biggest one) we decided to move to the one on the campus that we are teaching at. That process took most of the day today. If you EVER see the traffic in China, you will thoroughly understand why we decided to forgo the commute to campus every day! I will try to get a video of it sometime. I am learning not to scream while riding in the car-…