The Great Apartment Hunt: Fuzhou Style

I have to say living in Fuzhou has proved to be quite an adventure! I have lived in other cities in China. Each city has it’s one personality. Nanchang is rude and dirty. My loyal blog readers no I have no love for that place. Hangzhou is hip, beautiful and peaceful. It is very vibrant. Probably hands down my favorite city that I have lived in. Wuxi was ok, it had a lot of Western conviences. The air quality was terrible. Fuzhou, I will say is extremely quirky. I have never experienced such a place. It isn’t as westernized as the other cities that I have lived in. I think that is what gives it it’s quirky charm.
This quirky charm made my apartment hunting quite the adventure. Unlike the other cities that I lived in, gated communities are not that popular. There are a few getting built. Most of them were no where near my school. Also here in Fuzhou the outside area may not look beautiful but the interior are lovely. 

The HR girl who is helping me settle in is such a sweetie pie. I shall refer to her as Sweetie Pie in this post.   Sweetie Pie called on the second day after I arrived in Fuzhou and asked  me to meet her at the school gate because the realtor was going to show me some apartments. I told her prior to the realtor meeting  my specifications.

When I arrived Sweetie Pie  was waiting for me at the gate. I assumed that we we going to get picked up by a car. Well oh boy I was wrong! My chariot was in the form of a guy on an ebike. Sweetie Pie told me to get on the back. I am a bit scared of ebikes. I have slowly overcome my fear. When I first moved to China I was so scared that I clawed at the drivers chest with my nails and drew a bit of blood whilst screaming like a banshee.


This time I was a bit better but I was still tense. Plus that realtor kept answering his cellphone while driving. He showed me the first set of apartments. I wasn’t thrilled with the  exterior and the kitchens were way too small.  Also it was a bit far from my school. He called his colleague who had a bigger ebike to take me. I guess he felt I was too big to ride on his bike. Honestly there was no issue and I fit just find. However the other guy was a better driver. 

The 3 of us went onward to the next series of apartments there were a bit better but they didn’t have any shower stalls and the kitchens were too small. They were closer to the school but I just didn’t like them. They didn’t feel like a home.  So day one of the great apartment hunt was a bust. The realtors were exasperated with me. They typed on their translators that there were not many vacant apartment available during this time of the year. 

Day 2 of the apartment search began. This time the guy with the bigger ebike came to pick me up at the hotel. They had two apartments for me to look at that were very near the school. I upped my price too above 4000 rmb. The apartments that I was seeing between 3000-4000 rmb wer not what I was looking for. They were all 2 bedrooms but just not the right apartment for me.Then I saw one right near my school. It was in a cute  community with pink building. I could envision Popcorn and Marshmallow frolicking about in the grass. 

There were a group of ayi( older women) that stared at me as if I were an alien from outer space. This apartment I loved. The kitchen was big. It had a great vibe to it. It was bright and cheerful. The bedrooms were a nice size. I was so excited .


Then I looked into the bathroom it was a wet room. Basically a wet room is a a toilet and a shower with no stall. So when you take a shower everything got soaked. This is a very popular type of bathroom in China. Two of my apartments had wet rooms. I vowed never never again. This apartment was also a no. If the bathroom was bigger it would have been a yes. So we went on to the next one. This one was a nice size but it was very old and not maintained well. It was like the landlord took no pride in it. That was a shame because that aprtment had tons of apartment if he actually took care of it. It was a two bedroom and two bathrooms. The bedrooms were big. The master bedroom had it’s own private bathroom with a shower.  The other bathroom was a wet room. I had. To say no because the place reeked of roach spray. 

The realtor dropped me off at my school. I had. To talk to Sweetie Pie about something and give her my passport to pick up my FEC ( Foreign Experts Certificate) . I asked her if maybe we can use a second realtor because this guy was not finding what I wanted. I was really feeling bad for him he really was working hard for his commission. As I was walkin home the realtor guy found me and told me to get on the bike. he had two more places to show me. So I hopped on and. Away we went. 

This next one was kinda old but not bad it was a two bedroom. The kitchen was ok. The bathroom was a nice size had a stall. The bedrooms were nice. Then I went to the master bedroom and opened what I thought was a closet. Nope it was a shitter. It was squat toilet with a wet room. H-E double hockey sticks no!! The he showed me the last one it was right near the school. It was huge!!! 3 bedrooms, an office, and aquarium. It was old but huge!! I loved it the kitchen was huge. This was it!! I found the place. I kept asking him in Chinese the price. He never answer. I found out later from Sweetie Pie that apartment was 7,800. Which was way out of my budget. I don’t know I was shown such a place! 

Sweetie Pie told me that she would help me search on the Internet for apartments. She used http://www.58.com There were 3 choices. The first choice was already taken it was 4500. The second one was just posted. I loved how it looked. It was right near the lake. It was 5700. A bit more than what I was asking but it was a great location and apartment prices here are a bit expensive. It is the capital city of the province afterall. The third one was already taken. I had an appointment at 6 pm with another realtor to see the apartment by the lake.

We had to wait awhile for their colleague to come because he had the key. 20 minutes later the colleague comes with the key. This area around this apartment is very artsy and has many cute cafes. They is a wine and jazz bar on the block. The apartment is amazing. It is a two bedroom with a third room that was used as a bedroom. I see it as more of a dining room. It felt like home. The kitchen was a great size. The bathroom had a stall. The doors and cabinets are all wood that was built into the wall. A lovely color. In the guest room there is a vanity table!!! In the master bedroom there it a long curved desk that is built into the walls.

Then my competion walked in, a young Chinese couple. The place was getting shown to both of us at the same time. I typed into the translator that I wanted this place and I had cash on hand. I called Sweetie Pie and put her on the phone with the realtors. We then sat around. I think the landlords were coming. Later Sweetie Pie texted me that we had an appointment to see the landlord tomorrow at 9 am. I guessed at that time maybe the Chinese couple weren’t interested.

The next day I met the landlords. They were Christians just like me. I was told that the other couple were very interested but since she got the call from me first and I had cash on hand an was able to give her the money sooner than the Chinese couple that I got the apartment. They couple not sign until after work! I really lucked up on this.

I type this blog sitting on the couch of my new apartment in Fuzhou. This place feels so Zen. I feel so happy when I walk into the door. Let the new chapter of my life commence.

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She’s baaaaack!!!


Hi everyone, Chocolate Chick in China I back after an overdue hiatus. I was just at a point where things weren’t going well in my life and I didn’t want to turn this blog too EMO. I also got consumed with depression. I had to pull myself out from that. Don’t worry it wasn’t to the degree of needing meds or therapy but I had to really look into myself and be honest. It’s still an ongoing process.  I guess the best way is to write a short numbered synopsis.

Wuxi 

1) Wuxi is a pretty decent city. There are many western conviences like Walmart, IKEA, Subway, Costas, Starbucks and Old Navy. That was one aspect I liked. My apartment was awesome and cute. The complex was very grassy green and beautiful. It felt like a home. There was a gym right downstairs. Also an English speaking spa. I got into weekly massages and facials.

Work

2) Work is where things went south. The campus was beautiful. I arrived with many new teachers they were mostly from secondary. They were all Irish and all mostly couples. There were two Brits that were couples. There was an older American male and female. Soon the cliques formed and I was left alone on the outskirts ostracized. I was also the only black teacher. There were only a few Americans. They were males and had their own lives and wives. The school was a British curriculm school. My co teacher and I butted heads.  It was soon made apparent that I didn’t measure up to their standards. No matter how hard I worked or what I did it was hinted that the American system was inferior ( this attitude was really from my immediate supervisor) so this is when depression hit. I gained weight. Though when things got better I lost weight. Things did get better but well he was on a mission he wanted superior British teachers. So everything was scruntized and he gave harsh critique to my lessons. Everything was my fault. I gained 30 pounds. Finally I tearfully resigned. That bastard smiled like a Chesire Cat. I made friends with many of my western coworkers( the good period) My students did improve though not to what he felt, I developed a bond with the co-teacher. I met some amazing kids but I needed to find a place that I was valued. I finished out the school year  like a good girl. 

Friends

3) Friendship was very tough. I was isolated by co workers. At first I went to the gym but once the stress hit it was hard . Plus that person that made my life hell was at the gym so I stopped going. I finally found a group of outside friends via Facebook. One person wanted to host a Game Night. We met at a local restarant and played games. They became my core group. There was a houseparty that night. I met a slew of other people. These guys were the partyers and they were Americans. Then the bar girl came out. I was getting drunk every weekend. I don’t like to overly drink due to alcoholism being in my family. This also contributed to weight gain. My friend made everything bearable sometimes.


My Dogs

4) Marshmallow Man was very lonely when mommy went to work. He did have an ayi that came and took him on walks at noon. She also cleaned for me. She was a good ayi. An ayi is like a maid. However ayi means older woman like auntie. I am considered an ayi too. Ok so back to Marshy he needed a friend. At first I wanted to get him a girlfriend. He is like any teenage boy. I decided on another boy though because I was not ready to be a grandma. I also decided on the same breed. Bichons are just so darn cute. Grooming is a biotch though. So I named my new son Popcorn. He is a bit cute. My arm is no longer Marshmallow’s humping post. Now his attention is on Popcorn who just takes it. Well sometimes. Marshy is still my favorite but Popcorn is worming his way into my heart. He is not exactly the smartest dog and finally at 7 months he is sorta housebroken. He is an amiable little chap though. My dogs are a great diversion.  

Love 

5) I fell head over heels with a Chinese guy. He is 34 years old. For a time he loved me too. We were very happy together. He is opening an English school. He works with partners. We met because he also volunteers with the Wuxi government in a program to introduce Chinese culture to foreigners.b That’s how I met him. See men can come knocking at your door! Lol. He is very handsome and our personalities clicked. My friend was teaching English Corner for him and bailed so I helped him. As we spent more time together mutual feeling began to develop. When I saw him I was breathless. We were inseparable. He wanted me to meet his parents. If you know anything about Chinese culture then you know that means a guy plans on marrying you. I liked his family. They were nice. Well I guess they didn’t like me enough. His mom could not get pass my appearance. She didn’t approve. We still dated. Then I lost my job. I became despondent and gained weight. I wasn’t the same person that he met. Those reasons made his love fizzle. The love on his side wasn’t strong enough. I was willing to try everything. I was trying to stay in Wuxi to be with him. I even accepted jobs at half my pay to be with him. In the end two well meaning divas gave me real talk. Although I still deeply love him this relationship was not heading to the altar and his mom was  introducing him to new girlfriends. He didn’t love me enough to fight for me. So this was when I made the decision to leave.

Fuzhou Bound

6) Love and bad luck on my search kept me limited in my job search. Primarily I was looking to stay in Wuxi. In fact my boy asked me tearfully to stay. This was before things went bad. I sent out resumes to the local international schools there appeared to be no interest. One liked me but the pay was low and they wanted me to teach religion to kids( some were mainlainders and that is illegal in China) The other only wanted teachers with PYP training. Then the third where all my friends worked was silent. Many of them were confused. There were 3 openings at that school. My resume was solid. Yet nothing. Then someone did some poking around well maybe this is second hand info that a certain someone called that school’s head and told them not to hire me. That certain someone also didn’t give my recruiter in Shanghai information that was needed like reference letter. So  they were not able to place me. So I was not deterred switch to public school ESL. At this point it was becoming apparent that the boy and I could only be friends. He wasn’t allowed to love me because his mommy wouldn’t let him!! This and my diva friends giving me a harsh reality speech that made me cry. Made me open my eyes. My warm and cuddly rainbow and sunshine friend that moved back to the states kept telling me about an international school in Fuzhou that was hiring. Her friend is the principal. It was always at the back of my mind. Finally I decided to  contact him. I contacted him before but I was head over heels in love and my feet weren’t on the ground. I interviewed and the school appears a match. They offered me a first grade position. I told the boy and though he is sad he is very supportive and understands. He did apologize to me. We are still friends. Leaving him was the hardest thing I had to do. As I type this from my hotel in Fuzhou I am excited and scared about this new chapter in my life. I learned a lot about myself during my year in Wuxi. I know what parts I need to work on professionally.  Keep you fingers crossed. I am continuing my apartment hunt. I have to go back to Wuxi and get my fur babies and other things. The boy got a moving van for me. I should be fully situated by August 10th in Fuzhou.

Other News

7) Lucky 7, my niece Caity gave birth to beautiful baby girl. She named her Kaylie. I am in love from afar. I am a great aunt. I am ancient. Is there a cooler and hipper word than great aunt though? Just ugh on that one.

Big Thanks

To my friends who loved and supported me through my rough spots and celebrated with me during the good times. Even though I may not have initially liked what you said you stood your ground. I love and appreciate you both. To my  happy sunshine cuddly friend. You were the kind and listening ear that I needed. I know you are going through tough times to but you listened and delivered advice in an angelic way. I love you for that.