Sunday, March 7, 2010

My New Appartment! Part 2

Ok, time for a quick part two, but first a write up of my first real batch of culture shock.

The back story:

For those who don't know, the reason for moving is because my close friend and roommate from college, Chris Lombardozzi has moved out to Xiamen with me. (You can check out his blog here)

When the original plan for Chris to move out here was suggested, we mentioned it would probably be cheaper to live together. Lindon agreed and we left it at that with out elaborating.

About a week before Chris showed up, I got to talking to Lindon about living arrangements. My old apartment is quite small as any one who has followed the blog from the beginning knows and there was very little room for the two of us. My original plan was to turn the living room into a bedroom and try and swing it that way. It would be tight, but cheap, and Chris and I have lived together before, so we figured we could hack it.

Lindon however had other ideas...

When I mentioned getting another bed so that we could go forward with my plan Lindon looked perplexed. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Is there anyway we can get another bed and turn the living room into a bed room."
Lindon: "Why do you need another bed?"
Me: "So Chris or I doesn't need to sleep on the couch."
Lindon: "Is Chris very big?"
Me: "About my size. Why?"
Lindon: "Won't he fit in the bed then?"
Me: "Yes, but then I must sleep on the couch."
Lindon: "How come?"
Me: "Because, Chris is in the bed."
Lindon: "You can't share?"

Long awkward pause...

Me: "ummmmm No, no we can't."

Apparently, it is quite common for 2 full grown men to share a bed in China! Lindon's 20 something year old brothers do it right now. Lindon could not for the life of him understand why we couldn't, and I could not for the life of me explain it. In the end we had to chalk it up to cultural difference and we started contemplating new options.

He was also extremely surprised that Dan (my brother) and I only shared a room until about the age of 11 and that we never shared a bed. He told me how him and his 3 brothers share a bed most of their life and always shared a room. When he asked why we did it, I could really one think of "because that is what is common in the US." Which is not an answer I particularly like giving, but at the moment (and still really) I couldn't come up with a good reason.

While this was quite a shock at first, once I sat and thought about the economic conditions and the complete lack of space and resources, it actually makes a lot more sense.

Fortunately Lindon is a great guy and very understanding. (He also gets things done!) 2 days later, his wife (Susie) went out and found us this great new apartment and I was moved in Thursday.

Which brings us ack to the comparisons. I did 5 positive on the last post so I'll start with one of the draw backs this time.

A one true down side: The Building is much older.
The old apartment was only 3 years old. It was fresh, clean, and new. Most things were just put in, if not still being put in, and it just gave a very clean modern appearance. This one, not so much. It is however, much more like what I THOUGHT living in China would be like. This picture is taken from out kitchen.

The whole complex is the kind of odd round building where you can look out of your kitchen and just see what everyone else is doing. Something oddly communist about it to me.

Another positive: Bathroom.
Just about everything about it. There are cupboards for putting things in (especially nice with 2 people living there), running hot water in the sink, and a DOOR ON THE SHOWER! so that when I shower the whole bathroom doesn't get soaked like it did in the old apartment.

A down side for practicality, A plus for my health: Floor number
As you may have noticed from the picture of the building, this apartment is on the 6th floor. There is no elevator. Moving in was brutal! But now I am starting to get used to it. A good climb after sitting in the office all day isn't such a bad thing. This is the gate, the 602 is painted over and just barely visible.

Another positive: The kitchen.
The kitchen is about 3 times the size of my old kitchen. Aside from the fact that it has a table, cabinets, and is larger, it also has TWO gas stove top burners (still no oven) AND about 5 times the counters space (really 5 times as much, no exaggeration) That means that I no longer have to take the hot plate off the counter, put it on the floor, prep all my food, put it on top of the fridge, turn the hot plate on, make the rice, finish that and cover it and hope it stays warm, change plans, and then, hopefully, cook the rest of the meal in one plan. Rather, I can make rice in a steam cooker, have a pot and a pan hot at once and still have room to cut vegetables!

For comparison, this is my WHOLE kitchen in the old place.

And here is the new one again.

Here also, are the funky lights over the dinning part of the kitchen.

And finally a mixed difference: Cheap wooden stuff/Mini Bar
Because the apartment is old and we are in China everything that is "wooden" is actually really cheap plywood with cheep vinyl looking wood over it. The bag part about this is that from any closer than 3 feet away everything looks super cheap and cheesy. The good part is that the old owners at least used it to make a super cool mini bar thing in the living room! (complete with mini bridge, shelves, and spinny stools!)

There are also some smaller thing I have noticed after a few days that I like. I like the lighting much better, it is less harsh. I also like the marble floor and tables for ease of cleaning. I still can't get over how much more ROOM there is and how great it is.

In all, this place just has more character, and that is what I like in a living space. The other apartment was clean and nice and new, but it was also sterile and boring.

With a little cleaning up and a few Brad and Chris finishing touches (we already have a picture of Charles Darwin on the fridge (thanks Sara!) and my Nat. Geo. Dino poster behind the door) I have no doubt that this place will start to feel much more like home very soon!


  1. I'll gladly take a shot to explain the cultural differences in mathematical form (without being shy and polite like Brad)

    Lower Population Density + Larger Living Spaces + larger income per capita + Homophobia + Parents striving to appease their children = 1 person per bed

    Mathematically speaking... this could also be presented as:

    Bed(LPD+LLS+LIPC+H+PSTATC)=1 person


  2. Or you could always just say
    "because americans are spoiled pompus asses"

    Sounds about right to me too :-)

  3. Fair enough, but I feel like you can't just single out the US. This was the case in Europe, Canada and Australia as well.