So, for those who have been following my journey, you know where this post is being written from. For those who don’t, I’m writing this afternoon from my new apartment in Shanghai, China!
I moved 10 days ago from my home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (calm, quiet, and smog free) to Shanghai – one of the largest cities in the world and full of many interesting smells. I’ll talk more about those later.
I came here to work for an international school – SMIC International School Shanghai. I will be teaching fourth grade language arts to about 50 students from all over the world. I am definitely looking forward to this opportunity, but I had no idea just how many other things would overwhelm me as I begin this new phase in life.
For instance, I am trying to get a washer delivered today. I just received a phone call from someone speaking only Chinese and I continued to tell him I didn’t speak Chinese. He just kept talking…and eventually hung up. I have no idea what he said or if I am about to receive my washer or not. That is just a small snippet of what the last 10 days have been for me.
But, I digress, as the purpose of this post was not to bemoan how overwhelming it is to be surrounded by everything different. The other day in my culture shock workshop, they talked about how important it was to have humor in all of this. So, I started thinking about some of the funny stories that have occurred as of late and this one certainly should make you laugh. This is just one of the many obstacles that has presented itself in the last week or so…
“Don’t take yourself too seriously. Know when to laugh at yourself, and find a way to laugh at obstacles that inevitably present themselves.”
– Halle Berry
One of the tasks that all new expats have to do is the physical. Do I have any friends out there who have experienced this? I haven’t done this in any other country but here, so I have nothing to compare it to. I hope you enjoy my perspective on this very interesting experience…
All the new teachers and their spouses were told to line up to get on the buses at 7:00 am sharp. They were charter buses, and the air conditioning was nice – REALLY NICE! The hour-long bus ride was full of chatter among people who had only just met each other yesterday and we were getting to know each other. You know, the typical small talk conversations. I don’t know what was in the back of their minds, but I know what was in mine – A NIGHTMARE! I hate needles and I knew there was going to be at least one.
So, we arrive and pull behind the gates of a hospital. It said International Hospital, so I started to think maybe it was like it was back home. I know, I know, the hilarity of that statement has now sunk in and I know better. We walk in to a nice foyer with benches and we were told to have a seat. It seemed like we waited for an eternity, but the director of HR finally came and got me and told me it was my turn. She said go behind door number 113 and she would be waiting when we were all finished. Breathe in, breathe out.
So, behind the door looks like a scene from a hospital in a 1950’s sitcom. A long narrow hallway, number signs above the doors, pale yellow, and had an interesting aroma…we’ll leave it at that. The first stop was to get a locker for our things and to change. My first thought is “Great. I’m going to have to put on a tiny robe that doesn’t fit and half of me is going to be exposed to a bunch of people I only met yesterday. What a way to get to know one another. I hate hospital gowns – THEY SUCK.” On this one friends, I was wrong. In fact, the American medical system could learn a thing or two from China on this one point. The girl handed me a brand new, waffle, french terry, spa robe. It not only fit, but I had room to spare! I get the locker and head out on an adventure. I was told the next room to go in…and we’re off.
I don’t remember what happened in every room – it is kind of a blur. But, here are a few highlights that were my favorites.
I entered one room and sat in a chair that was hidden behind a divider. I swear -it looked like a hospital room in the 50’s – the white curtain cinched in the silver metal frame. No curtains to pull around the room here people! On the wall in front of me is a sign that reads “Get on table. Lie still. Be quiet.” I kid you not. So, I hear next and I go around the corner. On the table are a bunch of wired electrodes with giant, gray suction cups on the ends. I had no idea what it all was. I assuming an EKG but definitely unlike any I’ve ever experienced. She threw those things on me and I instantly felt like a Frankenstein experiment. Without saying a word, she wrote down a bunch of stuff and I was told to “Go next room!”
So, off to another room I went. This one was an abdominal ultrasound. The guy starts looking around and making these little noises. I’m wondering what he is looking at or for and he keeps saying “Deep breath. Hold.” over and over. About 15 of these in, he finally says, “You have surgery?” I replied that I had my gall bladder out. His answer…
Wait for it…
Wait for it…
“That’s why I no find.”
No kidding Sherlock. I could have told you that 15 deep breaths ago.
I can look back on this and laugh now. At the time, I was wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into. But, then, in those moments, I try to remember that I am where God has sent me and here to do the job He has for me to do. Weary or not…here we go.
P.S. I got my washer delivered. A friend is coming to install it tomorrow. I cannot wait to do laundry. (Never thought I’d say that!)