Airplane Headed to ChinaLooking down at China as my plane landed, I couldn’t help but smile. And not just because they were ironically showing “America’s Funniest Home Videos” on the flight, I was smiling because this was it – I’m landing thousands of miles away from home to live in a foreign country at last. Not some lame country, either, we’re talking the most amazing country in the East. I may or may not be an idealist.

I got through customs quickly and they stamped my questionable work visa [that I had gotten a week earlier ] without question. What was the first thing I saw outside the gate? KFC, of course! Figures. You have permission to ridicule me incessantly the first time I go there. It’ll happen eventually, just hopefully not right away.

The general manager for my company, Sammi, was waiting there and drove me through town to my hotel room. You see, they didn’t have an apartment waiting for me like the contract said they would have. I would have to find my own. Speaking of which, a couple of my good friends just moved to Alexandria, Egypt, and after reading their unbelievable account of finding an apartment there, I never imagined I’d be in the same boat. Let the apartment hunt begin!

In China, for a foreigner to find an apartment, they need a special kind of agent. A special kind of agent who knows what a foreigner needs. A special kind of agent who knows what a foreigner wants. Et al. But apparently, these agents don’t know what we need? The assistant at my company, Paul, said he would help translate costs and culture and not let the agent rip us off, and I’m so thankful he came with me. My contract said I’d have a stipend each month for housing and Paul found two options right away within that price range. The details aren’t really that exciting, but one odd thing stands out. Paul whispered to us to wait outside the apartment after the agent left. So we did. Paul seemed to think that re-negotiating the price with the landlord after the agent had left would get a better deal? We went back up. It was awkward. We made a deal. I move in next week.

KTV RubicksAs for my job, my first assignment is teaching at a nice little middle school, about a 20 minute walk from the apartment or a 5 minute bike ride. It’s not really teaching, but more like talking about different topics for 45 minutes at a time to about 10 different classes. I work Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, totaling about 20 hours a week with two weekends. I start tomorrow.

The rest of my time here, I hope to devote to language study. All the vocabulary I learned the last time I was here have begun rushing back and I’ve already been having small conversations. And the food has not disappointed either! Cheap lamb kebabs, fried egg pancakes, and bubble tea (not to mention real tea), have filled my meals nicely and I don’t think I’ll be starving anytime soon.

Did I point out yet how happy I am to be here?

So, this is it… I’m finally living in China. My priorities seem straight, my outlook seems strong, and my future seems wide open.