China is a big place, as I am sure you know. It is hard to explain and the contrasts between major cities to someone who has never been to China. I guess the easiest way to explain it is, even though Lester and I never throw our garbage on the street, our son Alemayehu somehow got into the habit of throwing garbage on the floor even in our home. In Longhu, Zhengzhou that is the norm and it goes unquestioned. In Hangzhou the streets are clean with no garbage in sight.
Today we live in a 20 story apartment (with a swimming pool) about 30 minutes drive from the West Lake, and the heart of the city. Everything we need is a few minutes away, including a great daycare, dentist, restaurants, computer service store, vegetable market and department stores.
The contrast for us between Zhengzhou and Hangzhou is admittedly, not entirely due to social and cultural differences. We in fact did not live in Zhengzhou, but Longhu, a small town on the outskirts of the sprawling city. We also lived on the Shengda campus with everything paid for by the school, surrounded by a cushion of English, i.e. tons of other foreign teachers, and hundreds of eager students. In Hangzhou, we rent our own apartment and all our expenses are our own (a truly frightening thought after being totally spoiled for 2 years). The most conflicting thought for me in my new home however, is the fear that every time I go down on the elevator my skin color may startle someone trying to go up, as the door opens on the 1st floor… Believe me, it has already happened enough times that I can’t seem to relax.
There are not many foreigners in this part of town, and I am rather surprised to find it so. I was sure we would find more people to hang out with and more couples with kids. I hope Alemayehu is not the only foreigner at his school again.
Tomorrow I will visit China Academy of Art, my new school. Now that I am a student I imagine that I will have more time for internet posts and pictures and so on, but maybe that will change as soon as I figure out where the foreigners are at! *^_^*