Noticeable Differences

Let’s put this out there, I was spoiled in Kuwait.

Now that is out the way.

  1. no porters, no baggers….you are expected to bag your own groceries and carry your own luggage. No one is waiting on you hand and foot or jumping at the opportunity to assist you.
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    I will get over it.

  2. ORGANIZATION!!! Look I cannot stress this one enough. I have not heard “inshallah” yet. No one has said “I don’t know” It has been “let me get back with you” “wait a minute” and they actually go and seek the answer legit immediately
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  3. The food: okay I have said this before but I will say it again. AMERICA is killing you with the food. I went grocery shopping and I can only buy like 2 pork chops in one package, there is no family size. Bacon, yeah that’s only like 4 slices in a pack. I can still get a dozen eggs but it’s normal size none that medium, large, extra large (and why in God’s name are the eggs different sizes? hmmmm) Chicken yep normal not hormone induced and the best thing ever I can get the wings either the drumettes or the flats. Even the chips and cookies (biscuits) are snack size.
  4. English, look just go ahead and learn Mandarin. They are not an English friendly place you have to learn Mandarin or have a translator app. Honestly I ain’t mad at it. Mandarin in their native language and I am a guest here. So Mandarin I will learn.
  5. Chopsticks….yep never learned now I will
  6. School lunch….they legit cook it daily…never frozen always fresh. There isn’t even a real frozen food section in grocery store except for ice cream.
  7. back to food, no part of the animal will go to waste. I have not personally seen it, don’t want to either, but use your imagination.
  8. Wal-Mart, look I don’t care where you are it’s the same.
  9. IKEA, same thing. Except this is like a family event. Let’s go hang out in IKEA and use their displays. I honestly believe if they hooked up the stoves and bathrooms, it will get used.
  10. Delivery, EVERYTHING still delivers
  11. EVERYTHING is blocked. While there are ways around this it is still a challenge to deal wit

 

Let me take a moment to compare schools (this will be a combination of all the places I’ve worked)

  1. abroad you get help which is standard common practice. Last year it was me with a teacher’s assistant. This year I get a co-teacher and a teacher trainee. #winning
  2. numbers: this is important. Stateside there is usually no cap. Which means they will slam as many kids as they can into a given space….who can learn like that, who can teach like that. Last year the cap was 24. This year 15. Yep FIFTEEN kindergarten kids aged 4-5 in one classroom with 3 THREE teachers. They are gonna have pry me out of here kicking and screaming.
  3. Type of schooling: I have done public school and private school stateside. I have even done head start. Preschool private and regular. Abroad I did private school last year. This year I am doing international….this is whole different beast all together. I will update later what this all entails because I still have no idea other than I am teaching British English and not American English (deep and long sigh)
  4. Campus: usually schools stateside are divided elementary, middle and high school. Abroad it’s K-12. No problems. Last year the school was one building. This year look I need a map to get around and I have averaged about 15,000 steps daily and school hasn’t even started yet.
  5. co-workers: We are ONE is the running theme and we are truly one. I have not meet anyone that did not know what they were talking about or did not know what they are doing. That is fresh tall glass of iced cold water.
  6. Lunch: can I stress again it is made fresh daily. When you see people cutting up the fruit and juicing it, you know you have reached a level of greatness.
  7. Admin: this is first where EVERY member of Admin will teach a class.
  8. Every teacher and co-teaher received a MacBook and every teacher trainee received an iPad. This is big deal to me. I know some schools issue laptops and some don’t.
  9. Printing and making copies: look since I left public school this has not been an issue. I can print and make all the copies I want to and not one person will bat an eye and I never come out of pocket for paper.
  10. School supplies: I do not issue a school supply list for the kids and I do not come out of pocket for supplies. Praise Jesus!!!
  11. Dress Code: this has been all over the place in my career. Some schools have them, some schools don’t. Some cultures require certain things others don’t. Here we are business dress expect for kindergarten and PE. So yes men where ties, the jacket is optional. Ladies are in heels.
  12. Uniforms: kids wear uniforms but something that will be brand new to me is this whole inside and outside shoe thing for kindergarten. Along with the fact that we go outside in the rain. Not pouring down rain but drizzle rain, yep suit up and go out.

 

I will have pictures up soon. The school is still not fully finished and I won’t do a before and after. Just know I am happy for myself and Elise. This is an upgrade from last year and the states.

 

Day 3…. I think

Look jetlag is a real thing. We slept over 12 hours last night.

Today is medical day.

1. I couldn’t eat or drink

2. Up at an ungodly hour

We load up on the bus. Sit and wait on our name to be called.

I go to x-ray first

Sit on the stool and they took my x-ray. I didn’t change or anything….um okay sure.

Go upstairs.

I have my blood drawn. Then I am given a cup and vial. Wait in the entire world. Ooooookay. I find the bathroom.

Directions: pee in the cup and pour your pee into the vial and place it in a holder with the other 1400 vials of urine.

This sounds and looks like a problem and can’t be sanitary and who is say someone won’t swab my urine. Okay so we are on the honor system.

Next up ENT. Homeboy just looks me over and signs the paper. Asks me one number on the color blind test and in the dark. Looks into my eyes with no tools just his naked eye. Looks into my ears, nose and throat again no tools….ooooookay

Ultrasound I am still not sure what they are looking for because they were all in my kidneys and lungs. One paper towel and you are done.

I get fondled in another room as I get my spine checked.

An ECG is done and it’s over.

Next up bank card.

Go look at an apartment. The apartment I wanted, the landlord is being a jerk. I take Elise and we go look at the 4 bedroom.

Yep walked out with keys

No clue, It’s been a Week

Yeah I don’t have a fancy title.

So my first week in China has brought me close to tears at least once a day. I am frustrated with the language barrier. Finding someone who speaks English and Chinese outside of my school is next to impossible. I can pretty much catch a taxi via app. I can shop through pictures and numbers. The rest is causing my anxiety to go through the roof.

My goal was to daily updates….yeah NOT. Jet lag is still a beast and we have been busy from day one. So I will work backwards.

Friday August 17

Our first full day at work…let’s start the day with a TYPOON warning….which all this means is it is raining and the wind is blowing and the umbrella is for decoration. The campus is so big and open many were soaked. My shoes are still drying. It took 45 minutes to get a taxi to work this morning because of the rain.

First hurdle of the apartment, the washer does not work. The guy came to fix it and it is still not working. A WASHER IS ESSENTIAL!!! I have not washed clothes in a week. I need to wash clothes.

Get home and we need dinner. Still have no groceries. I just need to tackle one issue at a time. So I order dinner via app. I get frustrated and finally figure out what I need to do. I say a prayer that dinner arrives. The guy calls, yeah I don’t know what you are saying and you don’ know what I’m saying. He hangs up. I panic. What if he doesn’t come up with my food? What if we don’t eat tonight? Oh my God I am gonna starve to death in China!!!?!?!? Ten minutes later the doorbell rings and buzz him up Praise God!!!!! Delivery was a success. I feel it is safe to order groceries.

 

Thursday August 16

A day off from work. Praise God!!! I wanted to do nothing but ended up going to IKEA. I went with a co-worker. We live in the compound (new word for complex)

Wait before the IKEA trip I went to the mall. Not too bad of an experience. Pretty straight forward. I found a grocery store that sells things I recognize, so I will return one day.

That evening was the IKEA trip….WAIT FOR IT

Use my handy app to order a taxi.

Jump in the taxi

Taxi driver decides he doesn’t want to take us and legit drops us off not to IKEA. He’s pointing tell us it’s IKEA we are like no sir. He wants his fare. We pay and get out. Order another taxi and finally arrive at IKEA.

We end up lugging 3 large bags a piece across this mall to order another taxi….by this point I am over it. Yep I wanted to cry.

Get home, take a shower, and go to bed. I am done for the day.

 

Wednesday August 15

Move in day.

Panic moment number 1: the deposit money for my apartment has not hit my account yet. What am I gonna do? Will they let me move in? Can I pay tomorrow? I have already checked out the hotel.

Get to the apartment and they are fine with me paying tomorrow. GREAT and Thank you.  Xie Xie!!!!

Panic moment number 2 and 3: I go to Wad-Mart. Shop around. I am on a budget. I really just want towels and sheets for Elise’s bed. I will figure out the rest another day. Grab some towels. Grabs some sheet. Walk around to see what I can see. Go to pay. Cashier: we don’t take this card (I figured out what she was saying)  we take Chinese card Me: pulls out cash. ( I swear all of was-mart has stopped to look at me) See KFC go get some dinner. Cashier: we don’t take Chinese card Me: WTF (it’s your damn card) I pull out my phone and point to the apps. She points to which one I can pay with.
Look I need everyone on one system. Either we doing apps, local cards or anything. I can’t be doing this every time I go into a store.

Get back home, eat, shower and go to bed.  I am done.

Tuesday August 14

I sign my lease and get my keys to my new apartment. It was the one I actually liked the most but it was the furtherest out. At this point it does not matter because the landlord of the apartment with the amazing view was being an idiot and I just can’t deal with stupid people.

This apartment had a landlord that was willing to get everything I asked and then some. So I asked away and she agreed. COOL!!! Good for me. Good for you. Xie Xie.

 

SO I have a 4 bedroom. 2 bath apartment. TVs in 3 of the 4 bedrooms. The fourth bedroom is big enough (or small enough depends on how you wanna look at) to be an office and that is what it will be. Elise has an extra bedroom that will be her playroom. we have enough space to do what we need without driving each other crazy.

 

Organization=Smooth transition

Okay first full day in Wuxi.

We arrived yesterday afternoon (Saturday August 11, 2018) around 3pm. We left the airport around 6pm.

One the trolley for the suitcases was FREE!!!! Praise Jesus. However there was no one to get my suitcases for me. I know I will live.

From Shanghai airport to Wuxi was about a 2 and half hour bus ride….Look NAP TIME!!!

Finally got checked into the hotel. Took a shower and went to sleep. I was done and over it.

Sunday August 12, 2018

Breakfast: I am sure I touched on this in a previous blog post but it bears repeating, breakfast abroad is just weird. I’m trying here I really am but I need eggs and either bacon or sausage for my breakfast to make sense to me. I can over look the lack of grits, oatmeal, and biscuits but what you won’t do is convince me baked beans is a breakfast item. No more can you convince me waffles are a dessert item.

Next up check in with the HR department:

Look I cannot stress the importance of ORGANIZATION!!!! I am far from OCD and needing things in order or done a certain way but if I have a question I need an answer. If I have a problem I need a solution. If you give me a time you need to be there.

I go check in they were ready and in place. I get my transportation card for the metro and bus. I get my settling in allowance. I sign up for a Chinese bank account. I get a SIM card and all before noon.

12:30 I go apartment hunting. We saw four compounds (apartment complexes) The first one I loved the grounds and the location. The actual apartment was small. I have a child I would probably snap and Elise would feel it. So I did not take any pictures.

Second apartment

This was little further out but it had 4 bedrooms and everything was already in place. 2 bathrooms YAY!!! There wasn’t much I would have changed. I liked the furniture. I just didn’t like the location it is about 15 to 20 minutes away from the school.

Third apartment

Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it. It was 3 bedrooms but the second bathroom did not have a shower…um what’t the point.

Fourth apartment

I fell in love with the view alone. It is right across the street from the park. YESSSS. 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms. One bathroom, the master bath, has a bathtub. DOUBLE YES. The other bathroom has a shower. Didn’t love the furniture so I asked could the couch be replaced. I asked about adding a TV to the main bedroom. Elise is gonna have to earn a TV in her room. The 3rd bedroom will be a playroom/work space. So I asked if they would take the bed out and add a desk and chair. I also asked for a bigger washer since it will be two of us that I have wash clothes for. The table and chairs I could live with. The kitchen I could live with. I also asked about a wardrobe for Elise’s room and if pets were allowed. I will find out soon if the changes can be made. Then I will sign off on everything and be done.

Uploading pictures for this flat have been a pain. Sorry

MEET AND GREET

First there was alcohol….WAIT, what don’t mind if I do. It was nice to meet the families and other staff members. Elise made some friends, well she played with some other kids which is always a great thing. I meet the drama teacher and I love him and his happy, spunky attitude. I am loving all these accents mostly British but I’m loving it none the less. The food was great. I ate ham, praise the Lord from which all blessings and pork flow. They love seafood here as much as I do but whatever that seasoning was has Old Bay beat. I legit did not finish my crab leg. I was like nope and nope that is too spicy and I love my stomach and throat. I am excited for the school year and I hope this excited continues the entire I am here.

The Waiting, The hurdles

Look getting my documents was the easy part

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So I got all my documents turned in and on time by the May 31st deadline. Here comes July and an email…..your date of birth is wrong on my medical reports…..SOB!!!! So what can I do, I am no longer in the country and guess what I do not have health insurance here in the USA. So what are my options people??? Can you email them and have them reissue you a new one…..ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!?!??

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It took some digging and praying but I got new medical reports with the correct date of birth.

In my panic and fear and worry I started applying for other jobs. Cause what we not gonna do is be jobless and homeless come August. I need my own space and I am tired of living out of these suitcases. So I applied to schools abroad and ONE school district in the states. I had an interview with a school in Vietnam…really people. It was a brand new school going into their second year. I swear it was sounding like my last situation. I could not go through that again. I needed a good fit for Elise. They offered me the job….now what DECISION TIME

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I needed to tell them something as SOON. It’s late in the game. Teachers need to be in place.

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I stopped and took a deep breath. I silenced the voices. I prayed to God. I dug deep into my faith and professionally declined the offer to work in Vietnam. I had not one regret.

Back to my China offer.

Now the letter of experience needed to state Kindergarten Teacher and not Homeroom Teacher….lady, people of the universe Let me whisper something in your ear….Kuwait does not operate like the rest of the world please stop asking me to contact these people and I have already left the country. I get hit with “no problem” and “inshallah” wish basically means “Go (bleep) off”

Got that issue fixed. Now to wait. I went on a cruise, a vacation during this waiting period. I have a separate blog for that.

FINALLY the email I have been waiting on arrives: YOUR INVITATION LETTER IS ATTACHED!!!!!!

Praise JESUS!!!!

yeah printed white board

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Now I sit and fill out the Visa form….look when I tell you I stressed and killed a small forrest in the process. First I typed it all in nice and neat…go back through it and see it needs to be in all CAPS…..okay fine. Go back through it. Then I had some dates incorrect. Then I had a few words misspelled. Then I was unsure of few answers went and asked co-workers what they did. FINALLY I was done. Took a couple of hours but I got it done.

Now I will be off to DC in the morning to submit the application and pray nothing else come up and there are no more hurdles. I have copies of everything and we are ready to go…OH wait I gotta pack

Went to the DC office. First go to the wrong office on the wrong floor. Make it to the right floor pick a number and wait. When I tell you I waited what felt like FOREVER. I got there about five minutes to 10, they opened at 9:30 I was number B260, they were on number B213. No seats were left. Standing room only. 12:30 a group goes to lunch, the pick up window employees go to lunch. A few others go to lunch. It’s now only 2 windows open. Number B250. I’m hungry. Elise is starting to slowly lose it. She doesn’t have anything to play on. Finally my number is called. I had to correct the number days to match my work permit, fine no problem. I had to correct the visa I was applying for, for Elise, fine no problem. Do you have a copy of this and that, sure do here you go. Please sign her form. Sure. It will be ready Wednesday. I was out of there before 1:30.

Word of Advice: HAVE EVERYTHING IN ORDER

  1. the form clearly states up top to TYPE in all CAPS, you better Type it. It’s on the website and you can type right into it. DO NOT GRAB A PAPER COPY unless you have access to a type writer. http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/hrsq/  this website has the forms, fees, and what you better have with you
  2. make sure you have the right sized photo with the right requirements
  3. bring your patience and even some lunch you will be there a while
  4. there is an office upstairs on the 3rd floor that will print copies for a fee, take your picture correctly for a fee, whatever you need to get your visa done they can help BUT THIS NOT WHERE YOU SUBMIT YOUR VISA that is on the first floor.

 

I went back up to DC…I swear they need frequent driver miles…How can I earn points off gas for driving miles….anyways. Got to the Chinese Embassy Visa Service around 9:25am…..Yep there was a line. Here’s the thing about that line they had you wrapped around inside and you hadn’t gone through security. Now let me pause, why not just let the line be outside. Anyways. The security guard comes with his announcement, basically have your stuff together or get out of line now. Don’t waste people time. 9:30 the line moves and we are moving. I get my number D825. Basically I am the 25th person. 10:15 my number is called I pay my fee I grabbed our passport AND WE ARE DONE!!!!!

China bound in 6 more days.