Friday, September 15

a large hole

I guess the second week of school was a little busy, because I just realized it's been a week since I updated. The freshmen started this week and they are so eager and cute. Teaching freshmen is really the best. Even though I don't get to teach beginners (students who have never studied English before), I get to teach elementary level freshmen. They know English from studying it in middle and high school, but are pretty excited to have a foreign teacher and learn in university. I had some funny essays this week, but I already returned them all without writing down the funny parts. Next time maybe I'll do that for you.

So, the big news here on the hill is that we are sorta trapped. They are installing new central heating to the buildings all over town and everything is torn up. (Apartment buildings are heated with their own coal furnace for each building, but now they'll be heated from one central furnace that's connected all over town.) We are used to construction being a constant here, but we aren't used to not being able to leave our campus without major planning. Last week, I went out to the bus stop in front of our school with one of the new teachers. We didn't see any buses, but we thought they'd come soon. After a few minutes, the taxi driver told us that the buses weren't coming all day. I asked why, but couldn't understand the answer. So, we take a taxi. We get to the bottom of the hill and realize that there won't be any buses up to our school for quite a while, because there is a massive hole in the road that is impassable. For a few days, taxis could get around it, but then it expanded and taxis could no longer go up the hill. Now, if you don't want to walk up the hill, you have to deal with disgruntled taxi drivers who charge more money because of the construction and because they have to drive up a curvy, unpaved, bumpy dirt road to our school. There's only one real road that comes up to the university and it's a deep ditch now.

So, we've been asking ourselves...Are they actually going to finish this before it gets too cold to work on it? (Cold weather is coming soon, and really, really cold weather is coming quickly afterwards.) The hole is just getting larger and longer, with no end in sight. Why didn't they start this in the summer, when less people needed to go back and forth from the university? (Instead, they waited until the first week of our fall semester! Brilliant!) Is this actually a conspiracy to get us to boost the Yanji economy with more money spent on taxis?

It's pretty inconvenient, but I have to remember that I'm not exactly living in a gated community or anything, where I should expect to have all the conveniences. It's just that now, we either have to plan a lot more time to go (because we have to walk 15-20 minutes to get the bus at the bottom of the hill), or we have to plan on spending a lot more money to take a taxi to where we want to go. The result is that a lot of us are staying at home, supporting our school store more, and only planning downtown trips as groups so we can split the cost of transportation. Maybe this is good for us.

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