Monday, October 28, 2013

Accommodations

I live in a hotel. One of the things that I've learned to accept when interviewing at schools in China is that what is promised and what is delivered are often very different things. Before I left China for the summer the University showed me some apartments that they were remodeling. I was told that I would be given one of the newly remodeled apartments. They told me that the apartment would have a full kitchen with an oven. They also promised me a spacious balcony. Instead I’m living in a hotel room. There are no balconies in the hotel. My kitchenette has a microwave, a fridge, a single-burner hotplate. Though the hotplate is brand new it stopped working about three weeks ago and though I've mentioned it a few times no one has done anything about it.

It is actually not too bad. The hotel is located in the middle of campus between the library and the main gate. The building I’m in has only nine units. It is a small building and is separated from the main part of the hotel by a small hill and a set of steps. There is a second set of steps connecting the second floors of the two buildings. The rooms in this building are a bit better than the rest of the hotel. These are suites, each with a living room and a small kitchen. The rooms are all fully furnished. Soon the doors between this building and the rest of the hotel with be closed off with those doors permanently locked. 

The school also bought some new appliances. I have a washer/dryer combo, the aforementioned hotplate and a water cooler with a filtration system (based on advice from another teacher I boil the water before filtering it or I did before my hotplate stopped working). They also provided me with a coffee maker. The coffee maker alone almost makes up for not having a stove with an oven. In addition to all the kitchen gadgetry they also provided a steamer for our clothes.

What is a steamer?  You use it to get wrinkles out of your clothes.

Don’t I mean an iron? Nope. I mean a steamer. It is about the size of a vacuum cleaner. I had actually thought that it was a vacuum when I first saw it. There is a metal rod coming out of the top and standing up right for you to hang your shirt on while you’re steaming it. There is a hose coming out of one end like a vacuum cleaner. There is also a padded glove which I assume is to keep you from steaming your hand. The whole thing is an odd looking contraption.


I keep thinking, they could have just given us an iron. An iron would be smaller and would take up far less space. An iron probably would have been cheaper. Most importantly though, I already know how to use an iron. Any moron can figure out how to use an iron. After a bit of experimentation I’m still not entirely sure how to use a steamer.

The remodeled apartments are in a tower on the east side of the campus. This is the tallest building on campus. The second tallest is the library. If you know where these two things are its nearly impossible to get lost. Most of the other teachers are living in the apartments in the tower. There are only six of us at the hotel. I’m told that the three rooms that are empty are going to be for teachers whose contracts are for a much shorter time. At the moment there is a Chinese man living in the room next to mine. I don’t believe that he teaches.

What I like about the hotel is that it is close to the building I’m teaching in and it’s quiet. None of the teachers here are of the noisy variety. This had been one of the problems at WEPS. A few of the teachers there acted like they were still living in a frat house during their first year of school. Weekends were often punctuated by late night absurdities and it was not uncommon to find broken things in the hallway the next morning. There seems to be none of that here.


There is a river behind the hotel. The riverbank is lined with weeping willows and small bushes. There is a path there with a paved circular area and there is a porch-like area that is covered. I stood outside today drinking coffee and looking at the leaves of the weeping willows swaying in the breeze and the morning light shimmering across the river. I was thinking that this would be a good place for a grill and a few chairs. I may talk to some of the other teachers about making a trip to Metro once are twice a month and having a small cook out. It’s really a nice place here. 

It is kind of stupid and most people wont understand it but there is a little joke here.