china · teaching

A New Home in Huadu, Guangzhou

I will preface by saying that the day before my flight to Guangzhou, China, I received an email, sparse, from the university informing me, in simpler terms, “You remember how in your contract it says your housing will have a television, a refrigerator, and a functioning air conditioner? Yeaaaaaaaaaah, aboooouuuut that…”

I was understandably annoyed. It was not so much that I wanted these things (in truth, I didn’t care either way). I was more concerned with how, without even having arriving in China, my employer had already broken the contract. One does not need to look far for news about Chinese schools cheating their foreign employees. Prior to the email, I was not even fully convinced that the university existed. Even with a z visa stamped into my passport, I did not discount the possibility I would touch down, be driven to some black market hospital, and have my organs collected. “Grade A American Liver,” the vendor would shout.

Perhaps it will cut some of the tension out of the story, but when the Dean of Language Studies learned that my apartment lacked, he personally drove to the supermarket and made the needed purchases, drove them to my apartment, and installed them. All of this he did hours before my arrival in China.

I have nothing but praise for the staff and students at GDCP (Guangdong Communication Polytechnic).

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I was understandably shocked to find a television (larger than my own in the States) and a refrigerator (the same size as my own in the States) when I first entered the apartment. Naturally, I did not get down on my hands and knees, thanking ‘Mike’ that the purchases were made. While I was thankful, as there never should have been an issue in the first place, it did not seem appropriate to genuflect.

I am still not quite sure where my housing would fall on a campus map. On one hand, there is a family of seven living below me. On the other, my neighbors are a group of three students. It seems to be a mix housing unit with both staff (I believe they are staff) and students (all female, from what I have gathered).

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In any case, I am quite pleased with the housing. I have not used the television once. Perhaps when I have more time (which is an odd to say considering I had the supreme (mis)fortune of arriving the day before a ten day holiday), I will begin to watch Chinese television.

One of my complaints, of which I have few, is that every window in the apartment has a lock. The windows just pull/push open so without this lock the windows inevitably slide open. Now, for whatever reason, every other window has had the lock torn off. I am not so much concerned about being robbed, though that is a real concern considering I am none too high up and there is a balcony beside each invitingly open window. My real concern lies with the mosquitoes, of which Guangzhou has an army.

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The bed is large and, as is typical of China, seemingly made of wood. I have no intention of buying a new mattress (as many expats do), but I will let you know I woke up immobilized the first few nights. I am used to a much softer cushion for my back.

I was not surprised to find a hole in the ground when I explored the bathroom. It raised an eyebrow, though, considering it had been explicitly mentioned (upon my referencing India during the interview) that the utilities at GDCP were Western. I have a story for the hole, of which I will now refer to as The Hole because I do love fantasy, but that is for another time.

I could go on, but I’m hungry, and I have torrential rain to fight if I wish to fill my gullet.

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