It’s the end of my first full week in Shanghai. Another rainy Sunday. Does it rain every Sunday? This is probably the last Sunday for a while that I’m not working, and I don’t really mind too much if it does rain once I’m spending my Sundays teaching kids.
This week has seemed both long and short.
Training at one of the EF centres out in Pudong. I had waffles for lunch and went to Sproutworks for dinner. And had a cream bun on the way home. #YOLO
We had to be ready at 7am to be taken to the medical centre. This involved piling into the minibus (we’re getting good at this) and driving along one of the disorientating elevated highways until we reached the hospital. We signed in at reception and took a number, deli-counter style. Then we were sent from room to room: some stickers here, get changed there, blood pressure over here, ECG over there… It was all fairly straightforward – some of it quite amusing, like the eye check where you had to hold a spoon over one eye – apart from the ultrasound, where I’m not sure what the doctor was looking for but my ribs are bruised.
Once we were done, we got back in the minibus and were dropped off at the metro station. By this point I’d spent a week biting my tongue, thinking that maybe people needed time to get used to travelling on the (in English and not confusing) metro. But it was like someone had dropped a basket of cats outside the metro station, people were wandering about asking why the visa officer wouldn’t take us to where we were going, and other people were wandering off in search of Taco Bell, and no one could make a decision or do anything autonomous… so I snapped and shouted at the group and went to stand on the other end of the platform from everyone else. Six days and it had come to this.
By the time we reached Xujiahui, I was a bit more chilled and rejoined the group for lunch, before an afternoon of training.
Excitingly, I had been receiving updates from Matt, who had arrived at Pudong and made his way to my hotel. When we finished training, I legged it to the metro and found him fast asleep in my room. It felt surreal but I was very happy.
We went for dinner at Vegetarian Lifestyle, a restaurant I went to last time I was in Shanghai, where I ordered (and ate) so much that the waiters asked several times if anyone was joining me.
My group of 50 fellow teachers split up into the type of teaching that we would be doing: adults, kids, online. I’m a kids & teens teacher so I went to the headquarters for my training, which was really interesting. I am genuinely excited about teaching and hope that I’ll be the best teacher I possibly can be. Afterwards I went to meet Matt and we did things like go to the bank (this took much longer than expected) before eating lots of dumplings and going to the football.
At training we went through the syllabus for one of the age groups, which was very interesting. The materials are so good, the teacher notes and interactive materials are extremely comprehensive. At lunchtime I got sick of trying to find places that had vegetarian food and had banana icecream instead. Afterwards I went to the mall and got Matt to come and meet me. We bought bedding for the flat, then we went to see the flat as Matt hadn’t seen it. Luckily he liked it!! He had a little nap, then we went to the French Concession. There was a restaurant in my guidebook that looked great, but it had closed down. I was hangry by this point but we went to a Japanese restaurant instead and all was well.
We had to prepare powerpoint presentations and videos about ourselves, which was a little chaotic as different people had heard slightly different things. I made a video of myself which was fine until the end when I garbled “okthanksbye”. Afterwards Matt and I went to Ikea and dropped more things off at the flat, meaning that Matt had only seen the place in the dark – which felt a bit weird for both of us. Afterwards we went to see the Bund all lit up, a real spectacle. This city is really awe-inspiring. We had dinner at a little restaurant, tofu dry hot pot and braised vegetables, plus prawns (for Matt) with what looked like icing on them.
This was meant to be a productive day but we got up quite late, and by the time we’d had breakfast, done some work and done our laundry it was getting on. We packed up and checked out, remembering to pick up our pink temporary residents registration forms before we left. We got a taxi, managing to just about fit everything in the car (with begrudging help from the driver), and Matt fell asleep for most of the journey. The driver dropped us off almost at the door and we officially moved in.
After unpacking a little, Matt tried to get the smoke alarm to work but this was abandoned (temporarily I’m sure) as it was time to go out for dinner. We got on the metro (it’s less than 5 minutes walk away) and were whisked into town, to Sproutworks, where we met up with five of my fellow teachers. It was a hilarious evening and if Matt seemed overwhelmed by my noisy and raucous friends then he didn’t let on. We got a cream bun on the way home (#YOLO, etc) and then Matt managed to find Premier League games on our (all in Chinese) TV. Oh, and when we got home we found we were locked out of the block and had to knock on the downstairs neighbours to let us in (my Chinese really doesn’t cover “my landlord hasn’t cut me this key yet”).
I did get up quite early… but then I went back to sleep. I woke up to the rain, which is loud in our flat as all the flats in the block have little metal balconies and it sounds a little like living inside a giant percussion instrument. The world’s largest gamelan, maybe. We had to go and register with the police, but the police station that the estate agent had so helpfully pointed out to me looked like this:
We went off to another police station and it was a very quick process – except the pink form from the hotel didn’t have a “to” date written on it, just a “from”. Thanks, Holiday Inn Express. Forms in hand, we bought some strange bread-like things from the bakery and went to the huge shopping centre at Zhongshan Park. We did a bit of wandering about (Matt liked the individual karaoke booths) and then bought some more things for the flat (washing powder! washing up liquid! a mop! three different types of crisps and three different types of oreos!).
This evening we walked about our neighbourhood and ate one of my favourite dishes (shredded potato) and drank my new favourite drink (pearl hot chocolate).
This coming week I have more training and we are planning some adventures for my day off. It’s due to rain all day tomorrow so I can’t use the hire bikes I’ve just signed up for, but there’s plenty of time ahead for that.