Life in a Construction Zone

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Several people from the department came to help me get checked into my apartment. They all speak very good English and are very kind. All of the new foreign teachers were supposed to have been placed in the same building as the existing foreign teachers. However, only a few days before we started arriving they were informed that we would all be placed in the new building. This new building is nine-stories and will have shops and restaurants on the ground floor. When it is finished, that is. Surprise!

Apparently the building was a hole in the ground just 8 months ago and a week before we arrived it would have been uninhabitable. Considering that, they really have made quite phenomenal progress. Floors 9-4 are more or less complete and furnished, but the rest has a ways to go.

To enter the building, you walk up a concrete ramp, down a pathway of plywood boards to the first stairwell. You climb 4 short flights of stairs to the 2nd floor. Then you walk down 2 sides of the building to the single operational elevator and ride it to your floor. Or you might just take the stairs if the power is out. The stairwells and the hallways are full of hazardous items and slippery surfaces. Personal injury lawyers would lurk around every corner were this not China. The unfinished floors are a sea of bamboo scaffolding. I get the willies just looking at workman scampering around on it.

Once you arrive at my door, however, things are clean and more-or-less finished. A beautiful green bamboo-looking door leads into my unexpectedly all-new studio apartment. At first glance it’s gorgeous and it’s mine. All mine. After the initial glamour a few disappointments are realized. I have only my bed and desk chair to relax in—no sofa or armchair. Though there is a cooking hood, there is only a microwave. Entertaining people means you are effectively entertaining them in your bedroom—no separate sitting room as was promised. A lovely view of a brick wall off my balcony. This in addition to uninstalled Internet and TV—the reason for the delay in responding to emails and writing blog posts. Though overall I suppose I am pleased with my apartment there were enough unexpected surprises to leave me with some mixed emotions.

Work commences every morning at 7 AM. Generally I have been awake slightly earlier and have been amused by the punctual resumption of work with the arrival of the 7 o’clock hour. At 6:59 all is silent; at 7:01 there is a flurry of hammering and the starting up sounds of cranes and drills. There is a definite sense of workmen posed, hammers and materials in hand as the supervisor holds his watch up, waiting for that minute hand to cross over the 12. Waaaaait for it. Waaait for it. Go!

Most evenings work has stopped at a reasonable hour. However, last evening there was a gigantic crane working perilously close to the balconies and sliding glass doors of people across the hall. At 10:30 I was surprised; at midnight I was downright annoyed. I resisted the urge to text the vice dean because I know they are trying to get the building done quickly. It just doesn’t make it very fun for the people trying to inhabit it.


One thought on “Life in a Construction Zone

  1. Susan Cole says:

    Your balcony view may be of a brick wall (gotta wonder who planned that??), but I must say that your apartment looks impressive. If you say that you have working air conditioning, I will just about faint!

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