reverse culture shock!
17.10.2011 - 03.11.2011 82 °F
Yeah, I know, I need to do this more often….
For my third entry in as many days, I’d like to tell everyone about the difference between here and the north. Now that I have been here for almost a month, I can honestly say I feel like I am in a different country. The amount of Western looking shopping centers, buildings, bars, etc. here almost makes me feel as if I were back home. Liz and I definitely went through reverse culture shock by moving here. And while I am enjoying the new choices I am definitely missing our friends from the north. We’ve met several foreign teachers here, but things are just not the same. So, I’ll go on about the good and the bad.
Our community is beautiful. Just down the street from our school is a river with very Asian style boats going down it every time I go by there, and the street parallel to the river is lined with Palm trees. Anyone who knows me knows that I love them. The community has a free bus that will take you from one end of the complex to the other, about a 20 minute journey. Yeah, it’s that big. I’ve heard a foreign teacher who has been here for 5 years tell me that it is the largest private community in China, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not. Most of the homes are upscale, some along the river with in-ground pools in their backyard. Wait, did you catch that? Yes, I said yard. I didn’t see any of those ANYWHERE in the north. While a yard here might only be 5 yds x 5 yds in size, it’s still a yard. The amount of plants and green things in general also makes me happy, as coming from the desert climate, I missed it. The homes are all unique in their own way as well, which is another difference for the better. It’s enjoyable to walk down a random street here and see all of the different landscapes in people’s yards. I do like the community in which I now live.
The school is also nice. Every day at 5:00 when class ends, I can walk out of my classroom and play basketball right outside my door. There are also a volleyball courts, badminton courts, a full-size soccer field, a track, a swimming pool, and a gym all right next to each other. Again, all of these things are right next to my classrooms so it is extremely convenient. The Chinese teachers also have a volleyball league, so I have been playing for the 6th grade teachers’ team for about 4 weeks now. I’m actually impressed because most of the teachers are pretty good! It’s somewhat strict also, requiring switches out of positions, and other technical aspects of the sport which I have not had to do since high school. It has been enjoyable to play.
As for the surrounding area, this is also something I love our community about. We can take a bus to the front gate of our community where there are 2-3 restaurants, and a 7-11. From there, there are busses that you can pay for, which are quite cheap that will take you to different parts of the city. The busses go to three different places in Guangzhou, one to downtown Foshan, one to Shenzhen, and one to Hong Kong (only 1.5 hours away). One of the Guangzhou busses takes us to a neighborhood call Shi Qiao. This neighborhood has several shopping centers, McDonald’s, a Japanese restaurant which is very good, an Italian restaurant which we have not tried yet and most importantly, the subway train into the city. I have found that the subway is by far the best way to get around any city. Thanks to the internet I can figure out where everything is that I want to see in relation to the MTR, making it easy to go anywhere. Having other foreign teachers here, three of which have been here for 5+ years, also makes it easy as they know where the best places are.
So far, we have eaten at a Japanese restaurant, an authentic Mexican restaurant which was AMAZING, and will soon check out a Turkish and a German restaurant in town. We also play trivia every Thursday at a nearby bar owned by a Canadian person, which sells awesome hamburgers and nachos. These places simply could not be found in our previous locale. There are also many foreigners in the city doing a variety of things. When we were at the Mexican restaurant, I was wearing my Browns jersey, and a man came up to me and asked if I was a fan. It turns out that this guy was a season ticket holder in the Dawg Pound, and he was helping construct a second American Embassy near the Guangzhou University. We talked for a while, and I couldn’t believe that it had just happened. Speaking of that, at our school, next week college recruiters are coming to our school. The recruiters are not from China, but rather, Providence, NC State, Baldwin Wallace, Stanford, etc. Again, where am I…
Last weekend was amazing though. Liz was searching for events on the internet and came across a International Wine tasting event. The event cost about $35 American, but was well worth the price. All you can drink from 3-7 on a Saturday afternoon including some great finger food that was really tasty. The wine event was awesome. We sampled wines from all over the world, and agreed for the most part about which we liked, and which we didn’t. They also had a door prize raffle and I won a huge magnum bottle of Shiraz which more than covered my admission ticket. By the time it was over, we definitely had enough to drink, so, naturally, we met up with the other teachers who just happened to be one stop away on the MTR at a bar. After a beer or two and some mixed drinks that the bartender just gave us for some unknown reason, we had had enough. It was a great day and I expect more like it in the future. In two weeks the Guangzhou food festival is happening, and shortly thereafter is a huge Christmas celebration in Hong Kong. It is apparently an amazing sight to see as the HK harbor transforms their nightly light show into a Christmas show.
Last weekend we also found a new apartment in the community. While it is a little further from school, it is also much bigger, the furniture is nicer, and the view from the larger balcony is really nice. The school provides up to 800 RMB per teacher for moving out, and between the two of us it more than covers our rent for the apartment, which is great. Soon I’ll be buying a grill for the balcony and cooking up some kabobs just like home.
Please click the following link to check out some photos of everything! We purchased new camera in Guangzhou which takes great pictures, so expect more and more to pop up there. I’ll try to keep up with the blog now, as finally, I’m caught up from the last 3 months. Hope all is well back home! As always, send me an email at email@example.com to let me know what’s happening with you! Keep in touch!