Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Place To Lay Our Heads

We officially have a home! We signed the lease on our little apartment today. It isn’t gigantic or fancy or anything like that, but it is spacious, and fairly nice, and all ours. Actually I keep thinking about our little tiny apartment in Strasbourg, and this one seems gigantic. The living room is very spacious, and the bedrooms are nice, though the kitchen is quite small and has very little cabinet space. But it will do.

Bethany bought us quite a bit of furniture from other teachers who left for good this summer. We have a couch, a big comfy chair, a bed, a TV and stand, a desk, and a refrigerator. Tomorrow all of the furniture save the refrigerator will be moved by some hired hands.

Because of someone moving in, the refrigerator had to be moved today. Me and Brian handled the duties, and while it wasn’t too terribly heavy (it is of decent size, but nothing compared to American refrigerators) it was fairly awkward going down three flights of stairs. The edges gave me some nice cuts, but I’ll be all right and we now have a refrigerator.

Humorous side story: when Amy and I went to the apartment after signing the lease, we were checking everything out and noticed the lights were out. Eventually we figured out that the breakers were thrown, but that was after going out and coming back later. The first time, with no power, we kept flipping switches to see what worked and I noticed this little red button next to the phone where folks trying to get into the building can ring you up to get in. Anyways I decided to press this button thinking it was the button that would unlock the downstairs door.

The thing was, the button pressed in but wouldn’t come out. Then I realized maybe it was something else. Amy looked at it and we decided it was probably some security, panic button. We didn’t hear any alarms, but we split pretty quick out of embarrassment. Upon several returns the button was still pressed in, but we learned that the security people don’t have keys to the apartments. So they probably came by, knocked and went away when we didn’t answer.

For lunch we ventured out by ourselves and ate at our first Chinese restaurant. We chose the one with pictures in the window, hoping for pictures in the menu. We chose correctly, thought nothing was written in English and we still didn’t know what we ordered.

We accidentally chose a room that was apparently not for lunch. At least no one else was in it, and we (after choosing a seat and having the waitress come) noticed everyone else went to a back room. Our room was scorching hot. All of the Chinese places I’ve seen so far have little mini AC units in each room. They never seem to turn on the units in rooms not being used.

Thus it was like 90 degrees in our room. Sweat pouring down our brows, the waitress gave us little mugs of steaming hot tea! She stood there waiting while we looked at the pictures trying to determine what we might eat.
Food came our way. I had ordered what I thought was some chicken chunks, but turned out to be some sort of unknown meat, wrapped in fried bread and lacquered in a honey/lemon glaze. Amy got a mixture of something that tasted like spam, with what looked and tasted like a fried pancake along with something fish-like. I’d never seen anything like it, it had a tube-like center, with this white meat extending from it in little tiny slices. We guessed it was eel or maybe squid. It was very chewy and smelled kind of gross, but otherwise it wasn’t bad. The rest of it was good, and my little doughy thing was quite good.

Our stomachs have been fine since, so our first real Chinese dining experience gets a pass.

This afternoon we went with a group of other first years to a big furniture warehouse. It was much different than I though, as I was picturing this big bazaar of used stuff, while it was actually some very nice furniture located in several smaller stores.

Not really knowing exactly what we wanted, and still having no concept of Chinese money, we went home empty handed. We did however, meet some nice people and started what will hopefully be a nice friendship.

Tonight we took Brian and Bethany to dinner as a thank you for all the help they have given us. We ate at a little Japanese place which was very tasty. I am also getting the hang of eating with chopsticks having conquered eating rice with them today. The key is to not try to squeeze the rice together with the sticks like scissors, but rather to treat them like a little weird spoon.

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