I had to go for a medical exam as part of my work visa requirement. It involves taking your paper to a variety of stations (which was really waiting outside a room), going in, and then moving on. The one I found most amusing was going up to a reception/ticket window to have blood drawn. The strangest one was having to pour your own urine sample into a test tube and then throwing the cup away in a large bucket in the hallway.
Before going to the travel clinic I had to get some passport-like photos taken - the place was the size of a closet, and one of the girls had to leave and go somewhere else to pick up the photos. There was a group of older ladies in there as well, and even though I couldn't understand the language, they were obviously having fun and teasing each other about making their hair stay behind their ears. However, the best part was the fact that there was an adorable cat hanging out.
I also paid the deposit for my apartment, and went to the police station to register as a resident. I made it back to school in time to support one class before lunch. After lunch I ran the pull-out ReadWell program, which was straight-forward enough and the kids were quick to tell me when I was suggesting something different from their routine. For the rest of the week I am filling in for one of the other ESL teachers, who had to go home for a sudden death in the family, so I know what my schedule is going to be. That said, things change, and this afternoon I covered the grade 1 class for the teacher who had to leave early. Next week I'll be doing something completely different (we'll finally be up to our full compliment of TA's) and then there's 3 weeks of us being short a TA, so things will change again! So really it's all about being flexible and supporting the teachers in whatever ways they need.
Speaking of the teachers, they all seem great. I went out for dinner at an Indian restaurant with a few of them last night, and had a lot of fun. The food was also very, very good. This restaurant is definitely a rival for Vancouver Indian spots. My portion of the bill was 38 RMB, which is not quite $6. That got me a third of two different curry dishes, two giant orders of naan, and chai.
One thing that I forgot to mention is the wind. I know understand why the weather data listed the lows for the winter as 0, yet people saying to bring lots of warm stuff. The weather data just didn't bother mentioning wind chill. Just a minor detail. The school itself is also quite cold. We have government controlled radiators, and electric heaters...only problem is that if all of the heaters are plugged in, and you add in the lights, and computers, we're pretty much guaranteed to lose power. It's being worked on at higher levels.
I've also had my first "things are done differently here" experience. I was expecting to get the keys to my apartment today, as the lease is dated for today. I have paid them a deposit, and will be paying them the entire 8 months rent on Friday. Apparently, because they're not getting the rent until Friday, I won't get the keys until then. This would be kind of ok, except I'm also expected to pay for the extra days at the end of June because the 8 months will be up on the 25th, but I don't leave until July 1st. I think that if the lease is dated for today, and they have their deposit, then I should get the keys OR if I don't get to move in until Friday, then my 8 months payment should be good until June 28th. For now I'm just going to accept not moving in until Friday and can argue with them about the extra days in May.
I promise promise to take my camera out the next time I go walking around the neighbourhood.