A few of you have been curious about my host family. I moved in with them last Saturday. It's been good so far. The pictures you see are of my room, my Western-style toilet (hurray!), and the view from my bedroom.
The house is about a 10 minute walk from campus. It's off the North Gate, down a little street divided by a river/sewer. It's actually kind of pretty. The neighborhood I live in seems like a fairly tight-knit community with a lot of children. There are six volunteers who live in my complex.
I live in the very corner building of the complex. My site manager lives downstairs on the second floor. I live on the sixth floor. Apparently, the law in the China is that an elevator is required in buildings with seven floors, so our complex's buildings fall just under that mark. What that means is that I get to climb six floors every day. I figure that with all the walking and all the stairs, I'll get in shape pretty quickly!
I'm not sure if I should post my family's names, so on this blog, I'll call my host family by their initials: my host father "LL," my host mother is "YY," my host sister is "TT," and my host grandma is "grandma." LL and YY are probably in their mid-thirties, maybe late-thirties. LL is an engineer, but I have no idea where he works. YY is a Chinese teacher at the elementary school located on the university campus. Because she teaches Chinese, her Mandarin is very good. There is a Sichuan dialect most people speak, and it's very difficult to understand.
LL and YY have an eight year old daughter, TT. I haven't met her yet because she and grandma are on vacation visiting family near Beijing. I'm looking forward to her return, however. According to YY, TT always asks about me during their phone conversations. She wants to know my hair color, eye color, and where I am (usually at school).
LL and YY are both a little bit introverted, so the house is pretty quiet most of the time. They both speak a fair amount of English, so right now, more than half our conversation is in English, but as I learn more in my language class, we are speaking more in Chinese.
YY is a pretty fair cook, and she makes me breakfast and dinner every day. It's pretty nice to be cooked for like that. I offer to help, but she doesn't allow it. So far, I'm allowed to throw my trash away in the kitchen (trash is part of the counter), I'm allowed to put my dirty dishes into the sink, and I'm allowed to put leftovers into the refrigerator (located in the dining room). I'm not to help cook or do dishes. I'll push a little harder next week to see if she's just trying to treat me as a guest this week. Our host families are supposed to treat us as family members, but it's not happening quite yet. I get the feeling that YY doesn't want my help, but it could just be cultural. I'm not sure.
My living accomodations are pretty nice. As I mentioned, we live on the sixth (and top) floor of the building. This means that the apartment is two-stories and that we have the rooftop patio/garden. My room and bathroom are on the top floor, and I have them all to myself. My room is a good size, and I have a Western-stye toilet. Hurray! The only problem is the heat. I have an air conditioner in my room, but I don't use it overnight because of the amount of electricity it uses. The problem is that I don't have a fan or cross breeze in my room, so I usually wake up a few times a night, drenching my pillow and sheets with sweat. This means that I'm quite tired in language class the following morning.
Downstairs, I use the washing machine to clean my clothes, and I hang them to dry on the patio upstairs. The apartment doesn't have wireless, so I have to use an ethernet cord in the study downstairs. (I think my harddrive is dead on my laptop, so I'm using my family's computer right now).
Overall, I'm happy with my homestay experience. I do hope that my host daughter comes home soon. I thing she will help lighten the mood of the house a bit, but she might not return for a few more weeks.
I hope you are all doing well.