Happy New Year of the Ox! It seems fitting that I start blogging again on the Chinese New Year. The name of this series in my blog is the Firecracker! because I first started naming my newsletter the Firecracker! because of all the firecrackers going off all the time.
I’m kicking off my blog again from China. I’ve been in Shenyang, Liaoning province almost three weeks, but it has been a very full three weeks. Once I got an apartment, set up internet and my VPN (can’t access my blog without it), I just needed to sit down and start writing. The problem isn’t the lack of things to write about, but where to start. But now that I’ve started, look out for more and more!
I arrived here late on 6 Jan with no less than six people at the airport to greet me! Since then, my community here has continued to grow and my transition into this new place has been smoother than I had expected. My Chinese is coming back quickly – I’m surprised at the things I remember and the things that I don’t remember.
Although I found an apartment the first day here, it is pretty old and completely filthy, so it took a while to get it livable (painting, repairs, scrubbing and cleaning, appliances, etc). Aiya! Pictures of the flat are pending the finished product. I’ve also got a camera phone, but for some reason, I’m having trouble transferring the pics to the computer. When I get that resolved, there’s some great candid shots to be seen!
Everything here just seems so much more complicated. First, it is trying to operate in Chinese is number one, and they way that they do business sometimes makes no sense. Fortunately, I have a gracious local friend whose main job is to hold the foreigner’s hand in taking care of business, interpreting, finding the places to buy the stuff, and general explaining of how things are done. But the other resident docs in the program also come over in the evenings to help clean and bring me food and whatever. What a difference from the last time I settled in China!
The documents I need to live and work here are coming through. I have a work permit, and a medical license that allows me to see both foreign and Chinese pediatric patients! Now my application for a residence permit has been submitted. Despite the mafan (learn Chinese: “pain in the you-know-what”) process, getting this done is so worth it! I have also started to ease into work a bit – visiting the orphanage, preparing lectures, getting oriented to the clinics and attending meetings. It feels good!
Shenyang is different than Kunming – not just the weather, but the feel of the city, and the nature of the people. The people seem more genuine and kinder towards foreigners. I don’t know if it is because I wear so many clothes and hats and scarves that they can’t tell I’m foreigner, or if they are too cold to waste energy on gratuitous annoying “HELLO!” comments. People start genuine conversations (when they get up the courage to do so) and it is a pleasure to be able to speak with them. I can also understand more of the people here, although I’m still getting used to the Shenyang accent. But Kunming people had a completely different dialect that even Chinese from other parts of the country couldn’t understand. Even though there are quite a few foreigners here (many of them are Korean) there is not a central hang out (WenLinJie for those of you who have been to Kunming) and the stores carry far less Western-oriented items than the stores in Kunming.
And then there’s the cold weather, but more on that later in another blog. I’ll just say that inside my apartment it is quite comfortable and I’m toasty warm inside! But don’t leave the house without a hat!
It’s great to resume the journey with you! Thanks for joining!