An American in Chengdu

In the beginning | September 10, 2009

I arrived in Chengdu last Monday evening, and it’s taken me awhile to get set up, but here I am. Still coping with a glacially slow connection, so forgive me if the site looks somewhat raw right now.

Well, what to say about the last week and a half? I’m living in a spacious apartment on campus–two bedrooms and and office. It’s on the ground floor, which is great since there are no elevators in my eight-story building. My only major complaint about it is that it smells like mildew, a result of Chengdu’s chronically damp climate. Yes, it’s gross, but I seem to have gotten used to even that already.

For much of last week and some of this I’ve been trying to take care of mundane settling-in things like shopping and paperwork. Fortunately my office mate either goes with me on many of these excursions or finds students to accompany me. For example, she took me to the travel medicine clinic to get certified. In order to get my visa, I’d had to have my doctor fill out a form that included an EKG, tests for syphilis and HIV, and a chest X-ray. I hadn’t realized I’d also have to get a stamp of approval from the travel medicine clinic when I arrived, and that such stamp would be withheld if my documents didn’t have a raised seal from a hospital (apparently considered more official than a mere doctor’s office), including a stamp over the passport-sized photo on the form. So I had to pay about $50 to get the exam done again. There’s nothing like an unnecessary chest X-ray and having someone examine the inside of your nose to welcome you to a country.

Another difficulty was in opening a bank account; my name was too long to fit in the bank’s system. Chinese names, of course, are usually only 2-3 characters long. So a student took me to another branch of the same bank, a branch that’s on the main Sichuan University campus, which is rife with foreigners.

Things still to do include getting a better idea of what exactly I’m supposed to be doing at work; finding a place to work out (a kung fu class, maybe?); and getting into a Chinese class. Rumor has it that there may be a good class starting after the mid-autumn holiday, early next month. I hope to start taking more pictures soon, though first I have to find a battery charger. In the meantime, here’s a picture of my new wheels. It’s parked behind my apartment with its bike neighbors.

Mine's the one in the middle

Mine's the one in the middle


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    About me

    I've come to Sichuan in search of adventure, fluency in Chinese, and awesome vegetarian food. I have to concede that the baby pandas are very cute.
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