Hangzhou: first days

February 20th, 2013, 6:02 am PST by Greg

I have basically done the equivalent of getting to SFU on December 27: it’s not officially a holiday, but there isn’t anybody around.

For example, the people that can set up the Internet connection in my room aren’t back until the 25th. So glad I got the data SIM for my phone. There’s a huge comfort in being able to email, message Kat (Viber or WhatsApp: lifesavers), use Google Maps/Translate, etc.

Speaking of which, I have no idea how much I’m paying for data. They have a 2GB for 100 yuan which I thought I had subscribed to. Then I checked my balance and the money was still there as a credit. I’m hoping to find a China Mobile store tomorrow and try to pantomime my problem.

I’m feeling a little more settled now. My mood has gone from “I have to find X, Y, and Z so I can survive” to “I can explore the city and find stuff I need.” The difference is subtle, but significant. I even managed to take a little time to work on my courses today.

I took some pictures of my apartment. The bathroom and heating situations are a little rustic, but I’ll survive.

I’m questioning the wisdom off taking the vacation before hitting China. On one hand, it was awesome. But, the moment I got here, I’m already wanting western food and missing my friends. [I really like you guys, even the annoying ones. You know who you are.]

Goal for tomorrow: get a bike so I can expand the circle of the city I can explore.

8 Responses to “Hangzhou: first days”

  1. Nico Says:

    Hey, on a positive note: your apartment looks way nicer than the stairwell leads you to believe!

    Stay strong, my friend. It will be a good experience. All such beginnings are tough.

  2. corbett Says:

    Nico, yep during my two years in Hangzhou, the only nice looking hallways that I saw were in brand-new buildings.

    when you get your bike, try and get the seller to tighten up everything; the handle bars, pedal arms, seat, etc.

  3. Kat Says:

    That was definitely a thing we noticed that last time we were in China – buildings over 5 years old look VERY old. I’m guessing it’s mostly due to the pollution? Maybe maintenance too?

    Corbett, thanks for all of your advice!! I know Greg REALLY appreciates it!! Did you stay in this residence hall?

  4. Corbett Says:

    Kat, no, I stayed in the dorm connected to the international cafeteria. They’re one bedroom dorm rooms, with a single bed, desk, a small wardrobe, a few cupboards (that were usually too high to reach), and a bathroom… sloped in such a way that the water tended to pool on the other end haha.

    I’m happy to help. I understand the challenges of getting yourself oriented in China and getting set up. We had Cynthia to help us (Andrew, Kaylyn, and I) the first time, and it was still very confusing.

    Other than Amy Gu, is there anyone else Greg can contact for help?

  5. Corbett Says:

    Oh, and concerning the hallways… even at Zijingang campus (around 5 years old now), a number of the main hallways look rough. I think that when they make some of these places, they paint them up (with cheap paper), and that’s it. I don’t think they do any kind of maintenance on it.

    I know that the paint they used in my dorm room was water soluble (as when I wiped some dirt off it, some paint came with it)… and with Hangzhou having such high humidity combined with the ever present fine dirt in the air, it doesn’t surprise me that the walls look the way they do.

  6. Benton Says:

    (roughly, possibly broken mandarin: Did I order the $100/2GB internet service on this account)?

    You can probably dump that into google translate for some pinyin.

  7. Kat Says:

    Corbett, I think Amy’s the only one around as school is on break, but once school starts again there will be more people to contact for help on various things.

    What’s up with the super high cupboards?! Were those in the other residence too, or only in the international ones?

  8. corbett Says:

    Kat, they were on the same side as the door leading to the hallway. You can only see the bottom of them in this photo from my website:


    As you can see, they are placed way above the height of the door… I really had no idea why they were up that high as they were pretty much useless for me.