The Post Everyone’s Waiting For..

Yes, we made it!  We’re now residents in Nanjing, China after a nineteen hour commute from Vancouver!  The process of arriving at Shanghai airport was surprisingly smooth- it’s a fully modern airport, with all services nicely streamlined.  It didn’t take more than fifteen minutes after deboarding to reach our baggage and clear customs.  Nanjing University sent us a minivan shuttle whose driver met us right at the customs exit, so there was no guesswork about how to make it to Nanjing after the flight.  A four hour car ride from the airport was all it took to arrive at our dormitory at the university.  Besides there not being a carseat for Leo(!), the highway driving looked remarkably similar to US standards.  Except that lanes in China seem fairly subjective, but everything works out.
Our first few days in this city have been adventuresome already.  There is already plenty we can report on…except that our blogsite is banned!  China apparently blocks out many of the blog servers, which we obviously did not know ahead of time.  Basically we can’t access our blog or any of the other WordPress sites while we’re here.  This post is coming through a ‘Special Third-Party Correspondent’ in the US, in fact.  How this will pan out in the future remains to be seen, but we’ll do our best.
So, some of the striking differences we’ve encountered in our first three days:
1. Everyone loves Leo.  This may not be so different from back home, but let’s put it this way: Everyone LOVES!!! Leo.  We can’t take him out in public without over half of the local people pointing at him, laughing with delight (especially when they see him tucked in our jackets in his infant carrier), coming up and smiling at him, touching his cheeks, saying how pretty he is, and usually without fail telling us he’s too cold and not dressed warmly enough.  This started happening as soon as we passed customs, and continues each day.  It’s still fairly novel, but we imagine the novelty will wear out eventually.
2. This is a big city.  There really are a lot of people in China. It’s a lot more bustling than New Haven and Green Bay, our most recent homes, much closer to New York in intensity and size.  Somehow it all works out.  There are lots of pedestrians and bicyclists, mopeds galore, and a good bit of traffic.  There probably aren’t as many cars per capita as in the States, but there’s still a lot of them.  They love to honk at the slightest provocation, which is very often.  It’s not too intrusive, however- if there were such a thing as polite honking, this would be it.
3. There’s a lot of bureaucracy.  Again, perhaps it was expected, but dealing with it has been a new experience.  JM has tried for two days now to register for classes- perhaps on the third day there will be a breakthrough.  It’s a lot like the DMV- so many requirements and regulations!  It has its benefits, though.  JM witnessed up close (closer than he would have liked!) the phenomenon of administering 300 separate medical physicals within the space of three hours, all replete with lab work, EKGs and heart ultrasounds, x-rays, and even teeth exams! 
4. Personality: This one is hard to capture in words.  The Chinese definitely share a national culture much different from what we’re used to. It’s going to take some time to understand more completely their personal interaction, habits, likes and dislikes, and tolerances.  There’s going to be plenty to adjust to, that’s for sure.  Much more will have to be written on this.
For now, we’re living through our dictionary and plenty of pantomiming.  It seems to work out most of the time, and all of the staff at the University have been most helpful.  We’ll keep you posted as best we can as life continues to take this new turn. 
(One more technical note- pictures will be delayed until we can find a way to fit our Mac into the wall outlets here to power it on!)


6 Responses to “The Post Everyone’s Waiting For..”

  1. 1 Chris Burgwald February 20, 2008 at 2:05 am

    Yay! Sounds very interesting… this is going to be a fun blog to read!

    (Remember, there’s someone on-deck if necessary.)

  2. 2 Littlejohn February 21, 2008 at 6:48 am

    Wow! It’s great to hear from you guys. It must be wild over there. Definitely looking forward to hearing more. We miss you guys but we know you’re where you’re supposed to be. Muller I told you before, you’re a pioneer and it seems as if you’ve married another pioneer in Liz. All the best. Much love,

    – The Littlejohns

  3. 3 Becca Lloyd February 21, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    great to hear that you guys are settling! We miss you!

    And did you hear about Naomi? Jun got a job as a professor at Yale. The Saitos return!!

  4. 4 Katie Brown February 21, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I can’t even imagine how exciting things must be for you guys right now! I love the blog! Keep the postings coming as the technology allows!

    Much love,

  5. 5 Dave Chodorowski February 21, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Can’t wait to hear the next adventure -glad you made it safe. Love to hear more about the personality differences and the university. God bless. Dave, Danielle and kids

  6. 6 Christa Sammons February 23, 2008 at 2:21 am

    This is so funny! When we went to Vienna in 1973 with our first son, now Father Charles but then just about Leo’s age:

    1. Everybody loved Charles (“der Karli”)
    2. Everybody said the baby was cold (I had to buy a hat for him)
    3. It took Jeffrey three days to register our car (lots of bureaucracy; we concluded that Kafka was a realist after all).

    Conclusion: Nanjing and Vienna aren’t so different.

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