The apartment is sparsely furnished, and we were provided with a few groceries to get us started, and a single plate, and set of silverware. We are given a generous settling in allowance, so that will help in buying the list of goods that I need.
|The view outside my living room window.|
My first day was spent getting up very early, unpacking a bit, getting a SIM card for my phone, finding a pet store with a few other new teachers, and eating lunch in a little restaurant near the school. Even though they had an English menu, I ordered dim-sum (not on the English menu) by pointing at the pictures (I speak fluent "smile and point"), and was successful in getting something that tasted delicious.
|I desperately needed a caffeine fix at lunch, so I ordered "Milk Tea in Ice Bucket" which was, quite literally, milk tea brought in a bucket of ice. One cultural observation - cold drinks seem to cost more than hot drinks.|
After lunch, I did a little more unpacking, took an unintended nap, walked Lucy around campus a bit, and then found some other new teachers going to supper. This time I had Italian food (I know), which was delicious.
The neighborhood the school is in is green, with wide boulevards and wide side walks. Trees line the streets, which is wonderful, especially in the heat. The school is about a half a kilometer from the river, which has a wide walking/biking path along the bank. There are no dogs allowed, but on the other side of the street, there is a tree-covered sidewalk that works fine. There are lots of shops and restaurants in the area, and many tall apartment buildings all around.
It's funny how quickly it is to forget what it's like to be a foreigner when you live in your own country for a few years, and how quickly it comes back to you, the natural patterns of being Other, of being the only Westerner around. At the airport, the children stared at me unabashed and wonderingly (and this was after I had checked-in Lucy, so it wasn't the dog thing). One little boy wouldn't stop staring despite his mother's attempts to get him to stop (it didn't bother me; I just thought it was funny). This is also the first country I will live in, other than my eight weeks in Taiwan, where I can't understand the language at all. It's definitely humbling, and a little terrifying.
One last random impression just for my West Africa friends - I keep wearing my indoor shoes outside. I think there's a song about that.
Today starts our official orientation events, which kicks off with mandatory medical tests to make sure we are healthy enough for our visa. Tomorrow our meetings will begin, which I am oddly looking forward to, probably because I know it will finally jump start my brain into focusing on school (and not packing, moving, saying goodbyes, my dog, and so on).