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I left Bali on Wednesday, June 28th, at 6:30 in the evening. I was a little worried that my suitcase would be over the 25 kilo limit (it wasn't) or that my carry-on would be too large (it wasn't)! So, I was very relieved when I got on the plane. I saved US$150 by taking a Garuda flight to Shanghai, but it called for me to change planes in Jakarta. I thought it was just a one hour lay-over, but I hadn't included the different time zone, so it was actually a two hour layover. I had worn my California Berkeley sweat-shirt on the plane to keep me warm. So, while I'm sitting in the boarding area in Jakarta this couple comes up and says 'oh, you go to Berkeley?'. Well, I was a little surprised. I have my somewhat long hair and my diamond earring, but I didn't think it was that obvious! (I was forgetting my sweatshirt - LOL). So they both were from Berkeley, he was here to study Chinese (he was a linguist) and she was his girlfriend, but was actually from Shanghai! So we chatted for the entire time and it was fun to talk about Berkeley! Restaurants, parks, the weather, etc!
Then the plane took us to Singapore where we had another hour layover but didn't change planes. We finally landed in Shanghai about 7AM on Thursday. The beautiful and very modern airport at Shanghai is incredible. You literally, get off the plane; go thru immigration; get your luggage; go thru customs; and walk out to a bus or taxi; all in about 45 minutes!!! Sometimes only 30 minutes. The only time you actually stop moving is giving your forms to the immigration guy; picking up your luggage; and giving your forms to the customs guy!
So, because I know Shanghai pretty well, I knew what bus to take me to the center of town. It takes about 45 minutes (about 3 stops) and costs US$6! Wall Street English had reserved a really nice hotel for me. REALLY nice! Big room; big TV with satellite; big bathroom; refrigerator; coffee maker; even a microwave oven! AND it was one block from Nanjing Lu the pedestrian mall and one block from the metro and from people's park. The hotel even had a wonderful Chinese/western buffet breakfast!
I had already contacted several Real Estate people and some individuals about apartments. So, Thursday I looked at 2 apartments; Friday, 3 apartments; and Saturday 2 more. I was looking for something that was nice; cheap; clean; and within walking distance of work, the metro, and shopping! So, I continued looking on Monday and finally found something that fit all my needs. It's about 7 blocks from work; 4 blocks from the metro, and a block or so from two great supermarkets! Since Wall Street paid for the hotel for up to 7 days, I stayed 6 days and then moved into the apartment. It WAS furnished, but I needed sheets; towels; plates; etc. So, I took a taxi to the big (CostCo like) supermarket (Carrefour) and got almost all the stuff I needed! When Yanti was with me, she could speak Chinese and was invaluable in doing all the detail stuff like ordering drinking water; finding out where we pay bills; where to take my shirts for cleaning; etc. So, I was on my own. Luckily, the staff at Wall Street are incredible helpful. They make calls, make appointments, and can help me figure out anything I need! So, after about two weeks in Shanghai, I was all settled!!
I started out with 5 days of training at Wall Street. There were 3 other teachers also being trained, so it was nice to have some new friends! (We all agreed that 4 days of training would have been fine). So, even though, I had taught for a year at Wall Street English last year, it was a good refresher course. All new teachers are given a light schedule to give them more prep time for their classes, but with my experience, I was 'full time' from the start. It was great to be back at Wall Street! They are so successful at teaching English because of the multi-method they use. Within just a few days, I felt right at home!
As I mentioned, I live about 7 blocks from work. I work in a beautiful area that is filled with old Chinese style buildings that have been completely remodeled. The area is called Xin Tien Di. It has a great night life with bars with live music, and great restaurants. I've got some pictures for you to see, but here are the surprising stats of my 7 block walk, I pass:
Obviously, I miss Yanti and the kids VERY much! So, the original plan was for them to come to China in January. But, now, we're trying to get them here earlier! Since my birthday and our anniversary are both in September, I'd really like them to be here by then :-) I'll keep you updated on how that goes, we still are in the process of getting passports for the kids, and then we'll need their Chinese visas.
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