I moved across town yesterday. Until now, I'd been living in essentially the school's satellite apartments, but when space opened up in the main building where most of the teachers live, I moved. At my old place, my roommates and I were the only foreigners in the area. The level of immersion was way beyond my comfort level. There were days when I didn't leave my apartment just because I didn't want to deal with being treated like I'd just landed in a Martian spaceship. Where I am now, there's a couple dozen other foreigners. People in the neighborhood don't stare as much; they're used to us funny-looking laowai wandering around. This setup will be much better for me, I believe.
My birthday is on Sunday. I will be working all weekend, and Monday morning I am going out of town to the beach for a few days. This birthday promises to be much better than last year's. Last year, I was driving 18-wheelers around America, and spent my 27th birthday stranded in a hotel room in central Florida. As unhappy as I am in China, I know I will at least get better food and more company.
Last weekend it rained heavily. The infrastructure in this country is such shit that when it rains, everything floods and becomes thick with mud. Walking from my old apartment to the main road required rolling up pant legs, putting on rubber shoes, and wading through ankle-deep water. On Sunday morning, my roommate was taking her suitcase with her to school because she was catching a train in the evening. She had a red poncho wrapped around her, and her jeans rolled up to the knees. I was walking behind her, and started laughing hysterically all of a sudden. "You look like a flood refugee!" I yelled at her back. And she did. The poncho looked especially FEMA-issued. Just as a reminder than no, in fact, China is NOT a developed country, no matter what the Olympic news told you.