In our first month as Wuxians? Wuxiites? --whatever you'd call us, we've managed to learn quite a bit. By no means have we got it all figured out. I doubt we ever will. Some things have worked just the same as we were accustomed to, and others, well--let's just say there's a learning curve and the need for a high level of patience around these parts. An open mind is also like, totally necessary. Here is a top 10 list of things we've learned this month: 1. Papa johns has our address linked with our home phone number. We only had to struggle once with the pronunciation of our address, and now all we do is call, and 45 min later our lukewarm pizza arrives at our door by way of the bike delivery guy. We've called them at least once a week since moving in.
2. When shopping for produce at the markets ( Carrefour , metro) you must get your produce weighed and priced BEFORE going to the checkout counter. I had actually read about it prior to our first shopping experience, and we did really good on our first trip..I felt so proud of us for not being those dumb americans at the checkout holding up the line...that was, of course, until our second trip when a lone avocado made it to the checkout counter without first being weighed and priced..boy oh boy did we get an earful at the checkout register. Needless to say, that avocado did not make it home with us.
3. There's a whole lot of honking that goes on. Each honk has its own meaning. There's the " I see you" friendly double honk; the "get out of my way" multiple long honks, the "I'm right here, and I'm not moving" long single honk, and then there are a handful we're still deciphering. When lane lines are just suggestions, and you've got a woman walking down the middle of the street texting (between busses, mind you), honking is a way of life. It works for them. I'm so used to honking in America meaning one of two things. Either, "hey, @$$hole, you just cut me off", or "heyyyy, there's my neighbor". Such is not the case here. Chinese people definitely utilize their horn to its fullest capabilities. 4. Fireworks. Daily. No kidding. Morning (7:00a wake up call, anyone?), noon and night. We had some let off just across the canal tonight. Someone had reason to celebrate something. It's like the 4th of July here everyday. 5. Lost in translation. Read the "store name" at the top of the stroller add.
6. Texting. Our bank, UFH (medical clinic), and many other places we deal with all offer to text us confirmations. This my friends, is extremely helpful. Especially when were dealing with a language barrier and difficulty translating addresses etc. We've depended on NZ's phone for everything. My phone is still stuck in customs. The update today was that we might see it by the end of next week although it's been in Shanghai customs since Tuesday. I'll believe it when I see it. Anyhow, back to the whole texting confirmation thingy...we love it. Our Chinese bank will notify us when any charge is made with our card--that doubled with a dynamic verification code each time we use the card, would help alert us and the bank to any credit card fraud that could potentially occur. 7. The sidewalks have directional braille to assist the blind navigate a straight course. However, they must take care not to get snipered by the uneven sidewalk, missing tiles and random scooters that might also be on the path to their destination. I think the Braille is great and all, and perhaps when it's time to cross the street, they're better off not seeing every car, bus, scooter and rickshaw headed their way. I, on the other hand, have to get over my fear of playing human frogger each time we cross. 8. Special cleaning powers...not mine. Our ayi's. I never knew how shiny marble floors could be until she started cleaning them. She also does dishes, laundry, irons, picks up dry cleaning and makes faces with Sal who adores her already. I'm in love. 9. Expatriate love. We've been fortunate enough to have met a few other expatriates who have shared every ounce of knowledge they have since they'd arrived here in Wuxi. We're still having to learn things on our own, but their advice is much appreciated and we've been able to cheat the learning curve on a few things with their shared knowledge.
10. We can make a home anywhere. Right now, Wuxi is home. Of course there are some things we miss, like our family, friends, conveniences (Target, I miss you!), and our bed (oh how our extra firm feel-the-springs-through-the-mattress is no match to our tempurpedic that we left back in the states), but all in all, things here are similar, yet not quite the same. We've gotten enough to get by, and in time, we'll muddle our way through new challenges until we've got this town mastered. Bring on month two!