Since I've been living in Beijing for almost exactly a month now, I figure it's about time I share some photos and details about my apartment:
This is the first time I've ever lived in a building with an elevator. Yes, something as simple as that gives me a little thrill, but I don't get to use it very often. I live on the second floor so using the elevator every day would make me feel lazy. The only time I experience the excitement of pushing buttons is if I'm visiting a friend on a higher floor.
My kitchen is tiny. Very tiny. But the only thing I've "cooked" so far has been corn on the cob and ramen noodles. Other than that, I've had cereal, heated up leftovers, and eaten out. I also have a toaster now, so toast and peanut butter will likely become a staple.
Yup, my washer is in my kitchen and it is also tiny. It fits about half of what my washer back home fits. I'm very thankful for the English written on it and so far I've managed not to shrink or discolour any clothes. High five!
I don't have a dryer because they aren't common in China. (It's not an unusual sight to see laundry hanging out of apartment windows, with or without a balcony, no matter how high the apartment is.) Until I bought a drying rack last week, I was hanging my damp laundry on any available surface. The good news is that the washer's spin cycle leaves the laundry not very wet at all (depending on how many spins you choose).
I've included photos of my bathroom mostly just because friends and family back home were worried I'd have a "squatter" toilet and my shower wouldn't be enclosed. Guess what! I have a "normal" toilet and my shower has glass walls! I was a bit disappointed that I didn't have a bathtub (most of the other teachers here do), but the shower is very roomy and I've shaved several times and only cut myself once.
The first time I showered, the shower head fell on my head. And continued to do so every time I showered until I figured out who to e-mail for repairs. The maintenance people's solution? Electrical tape. That worked for a couple of days and then I was back to being in danger of getting a concussion. Another e-mail and their solution was masking tape. MASKING TAPE! Um, no. So I took matters into my own hands, figured out the hose wasn't fitting correctly, and stealthily switched it with one in an empty room. High five! No more "failing" shower heads!
One of the first things I discovered about China is that the plumbing is less than desirable. Besides squatter toilets and not being able to drink the water, leaks seem to be a problem. My bathroom floor floods after every shower and it seems as though my kitchen sink has begun to leak. Other teachers have complained of similar problems. This is all okay though, because...
THE WATER PRESSURE IN MY SHOWER IS AMAZING! (This was actually one of the only things I was concerned about before I moved here. As you know, I enjoy good water pressure. Getting out of bed is so much easier when you know a hot, hard shower is waiting for you).
I have a king size bed! Which is really quite unnecessary, but I enjoy it. It's nice to be able to pile clothes on one side of the bed and know they're in no danger of being disturbed no matter how much I may toss or turn during the night. I had been warned that mattresses here are hard, and while that is the case, I don't find it uncomfortable.
The suckiest thing about the bedroom is the bedding, only because it's so big that it takes forever to dry. I hung it up for 2 nights and it still wasn't completely dry by the time I decided to give up and make my bed with damp sheets. And I wrestled for approximately 12 minutes to get the cover back on the duvet. Oof.
The best thing about the bedroom is the built-in lamps in my nightstands. Hooray for reading in bed and not having to get up to turn off the light! Other good things include air conditioning and great light (although the great light is not apparent in these photos, sorry!).
This is my living room. The walls are bare and I don't have enough stuff to fill the shelves, but I love it anyway. Like the bedroom, it has air conditioning and gets great light. The couch may be tiny but I'm able to curl up with a cup of tea and my laptop or a book, and that's all that matters.
I bought candles and plants to try to make it feel more "homey," but I have yet to light the candles and I doubt my abilities to keep the plants alive. We'll see what happens. I have a stained glass maple leaf from home to hang up and I might buy some cheap art, but once again, we'll see what happens. I don't spend too much time here anyway.
Since these photos were taken, a water cooler has taken up residence beside the television. Give me a break; it certainly couldn't fit in the kitchen where it belongs! And besides, it likes living close to the drying rack, which seems to have a permanent spot in the middle of the living room. Dang not having a dryer!
I've never owned plants before and am still unsure of what exactly the point is, but I guess they're okay. I bought that first one mostly for the pot, the second one because my mom had the same kind on a shelf in our bathroom when I was growing up, the third one because I liked the leaves, and the fourth one because I really liked the leaves.
I have no idea what any of these are and I water them once a week, based on the instructions I was able to decipher from the sellers' hand gestures and limited English.
I had to rescue the one with pink leaves (I think of her as a girl) on the weekend. She was drooping quite drastically and I was surprised by how sad I felt when I saw her wilting on my dresser. I watered her stat! and was relieved and happy to see her back to her normal self Monday morning.
Despite the fact that I forget to open my curtains most mornings, I'm hoping my plants survive the year.
The first time I walked into my apartment, I exclaimed, "Is this all mine!?" It might not be much, but it's more than I was expecting, and it's mine. Home, sweet, home.