It's so great to be here in Nanjing...but the first week has been challenging to say the least. Since I don't work for a school anymore, I don't have the safety net of an English-speaking "handler" that I can call any time to take care of me. The upside of this is that I live in a real apartment, in a really cool little back alley just a few minutes from my university. As soon as I get my domicile in order, I'll take some pictures.
The downside is that this week, with my limited language capabilities, I've had to negotiate with landlords, open a bank account, pay utility bills and haggle with repairmen over a chronically broken air conditioner, all in Chinese. I think my Chinese will improve a lot this year--because it HAS to! Which is exactly why I'm here. But it sure is frustrating...even ordering drinking water is hard. Last year, I just picked up the phone and said, "Hi, this is the foreigner," and they knew exactly where to find me. This year, I am just one of 6 million people, with an address that happens to be extremely difficult to locate. Not much hope of ordering pizzas. :)
The air conditioner, by the way, is still broken. Nanjing residents boast of living in one of China's "three furnaces," the 3 hottest cities in China. I think I probably sweat about twenty times more than the average Chinese woman. I see ladies on the street pull out tissues and dab at their glistening foreheads...meanwhile, I look as if I've been dunked in a swimming pool. If I held a tissue to my forehead, it would dissolve.
So until the air conditioner gets fixed, I remain your humble sweating illiterate foreigner...S