Thursday, March 6, 2008

Two Thumbs Up!

That's the general consensus of our life in China. We're past the mid point...actually almost two-thirds done. Just about 15 weeks to go! On a scale of 1-10, here's our score card. A lot of high marks; our "complaints" are very minor.

The people - 10: The Chinese are a gracious, patient lot. Everyone we have met has been kind and understanding. For example, people make a fuss over the kids, offer us their seat on the bus and go to great lengths to help us understand and be understood.

The weather - 9: IMHO the Carribean climate is about as close to perfect as one can get, but Kunming also gets high marks. The temps are mild, and most days are sunny and dry. A Winter with no snow and no freezing temps?? Equals no complaining here!

Kunming and environs - 9: Kunming is a perfect fit for us. Being in southwestern China, it's laid back and a bit "backwards"; it still has an authentic Chinese flavor and feeling. And it's small enough to get around but big enough for exploring. Also, Kunming has just enough Western comforts to keep us sane! On the down side, it doesn't have a Catholic church like may of the larger cities do (which to me is surprising given its French history) and there is no organized ex-pat community. The area attracts the twenty-something student/backpacker crowd, among the various other ex-pat types.

The job - 9: I have wonderful students, colleagues and schedule. With a lot of freedom, the courses are truly my works of art. The only complaints are the little annoyances, such as having limted access to a photocopier. But again, minor details when looking at the big picture.

The apartment location - 10: We absolutely love the location - on campus. Easy commute - a 15 minute walk door to door: down four flights, walk through the gardens, continue walking through campus to my classroom building, and up four flights. It's also a ten minute walk to the kindergarten and equal distance to the main streets.

The apartment itself - 8: Living in China on a teacher's salary is a bit like camping: we have the necessities but lack some of the comforts. The apartment is quiet, clean and has ample space. Our biggest complaint is the bathroom, more specifically, the funky shower! It would be nice to have a microwave (too cheap to buy one), a large rug (ditto) and a clothes dryer (impossible). Small inconveniences, but still nice living conditions. But, we are looking forward to returning to our "luxurious" home!

The kids' school and experience - 9.5: Have I mentioned how thrilled we are with this aspect of China? ;) Since the number one reason to come here is to immerse the kids in the language, this is the area that satisfies us the most. Our one "complaint" is that we sometimes are not in the loop for information. But this is now better as our language skills and number of fellow parent friends increase. The kids enjoy attending and come home happy and tired. They understand and speak Chinese, and C. is learning to read and write. We couldn't be more pleased!

Did your kindergarten teacher hold you up like this?!

No comments: