Orientation Day One

Trip Start May 05, 2012
Trip End Mar 01, 2013

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Flag of China  , Tianjin,
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jet lag meant that we woke up about 4.30am.  We then dozed until we had to get up and meet our boss James, face to face for the first time, in the lobby of our building. James then took us to the school's HQ via the subway. The subway looks pretty straight forward, only one line so we hopefully won't get too lost!  Once at the school we wrote quick emails home to parents and then were taken by our Chinese guide to get our medicals, the final step in the resident's permit process.

What an experience.  The medical took place at the "International Travel Health Center" a short taxi ride from the school.  It was a real production line, moving us from one room to the next, getting our photo taken, signing forms and then down to the first examination room.  In the first room we had our height, weight and blood pressure taken; in the next, very quick and efficient ECG; followed by an eye test; an ultra sound (we presume to test if I was pregnant? But couldn't quite work out what they were looking for in Evan...); blood (Don't worry, we checked that the needles were sterile!) and urine tests; and finally an x-ray.  We were in and out in about an hour, with all results given instantly.  Pretty impressive, but I must say that I have a real appreciation for Western standards of hygiene. Lets just say that negotiating the ins and outs of a Chinese toilet (hole in the ground that hadn't been cleaned in quite a while. No toilet paper.  I can accept those standards in public toilets, but in a medical center???) for the first time while trying to provide a urine sample was an enlightening experience. 

Anywho, we then returned to the HQ for lunch with James and Tomas (another boss at the school) and they took us to a local 'traditional' Tianjin food place called Gobuli where they ordered us a ton of food and we tried the Gobuli dumplings (Didn't take a picture sorry, will try to next time!).  James and Tomas proceeded to entertain us with horror stories of teachers they had hired who were just plain crazy (like seeing demons in the light socket crazy), and all of the interesting, if slightly terrifying stories of life in Tianjin. 

After lunch we took another taxi with our Chinese guide to the local Public Security Bureau to get our residents permits.  This took forever, but was in part of the Western District of Tianjin (Tianjin was colonised by many foreign nations in its history), and was quite pretty.  I'm afraid my photos don't do it justice. 

After securing our permits James took us to a Western-style French supermarket called Carrefour.  It was really a type of hypermart, with everything you would find in the Warehouse + supermarket.  Except for the things that we were really after like English tea, and muesli.  It was quite a sensory overload! 

James then decided that we had not quite been terrified enough for the day and decided that we would return home in a rickshaw rather than the subway.  This particular one looked like it was about to fall apart, but it got us home safely and only stalled in an intersection once!  It was quite exciting really. 

When we returned to our apartment we found a note on the door in Chinese.  Not knowing what it said we entered the apartment and tried to turn on the lights.  We then discovered what it said: our power had been disconnected.  A quick visit from James revealed that because the apartment had been unoccupied for a few months before we arrived, the power had been turned off.  Being after office hours nothing could be done until the next day.  Lucky I packed a torch.

We met some other English teachers for dinner that night to celebrate one girl's birthday.  They all seemed really nice and it was good to see what others had to say about life in China.  We left the dinner early (about 8pm) because we were about to fall asleep.  The combination of a long day and the beer at the restaurant (brewed on site and about 8%) was enough to send us crawling into bed (in the dark) and asleep in an instant. 
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Caitlin Andrews on

Wow guys! sounds so intense!!! I could not do that by myself so thank god you are together and its all organised for you lol. loving the photos and updates. good work xx

carly on

A trip to Walmart was a highlight of the week! Hope you guys had packed some tissues for those bathroom trips!
Your trip sounds so awesome, guys! x

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