Monday, January 03, 2011

Memory Lane Strikes Again!

At the risk of boring you all with yet another trip down memory lane, I couldn't resist posting these old photos after all of that reminiscing the other night! First: here's our student dorm room upon arrival. Can you see the layer of dirt on the desk? And notice the cement floors! This room hadn't been lived in for awhile; it was a bit more expensive since it was prime real estate--a whole 30 square meters! The moment we walked in and agreed to live in this room, I stopped and said to John: "Don't touch anything!" We found the Clorox wipes that I had packed and immediately set to work. Our first meal, as mentioned before. I look a little grimy around the edges, but not bad for having traveled for three+ days!
Later on, about two weeks later I think, we finally figured out where to buy some plastic flooring that we could lay over the cement. We paid a LOT for it but didn't know how to bargain and by that point, didn't care! John went to work with his exacto knife to make it fit our room.

Above, a view of the provided furniture before the floor was laid...Below, also before the floor, when we were a bit more settled. Yes, we did take our own sheets and pillows, a special quilt and throw blanket. Those things made it seem like home right away.

Here's a picture from early days when I was newly expecting Clara Anne. I did NOT feel well and didn't know very well how to deal with the constant nausea and fatigue. Since we didn't have a kitchen, I survived the first few months of pregnancy on Sprite, a kind of instant breakfast cereal, egg sandwiches from the student snack bar, and mantou (a kind of steamed bread). No wonder I lost 10 pounds in the first trimester!
Mother's Day 2004: John bought me some beautiful roses to symbolize our new family of three.
This next picture is of my first female friend in our city. It's actually quite amazing--she is a teacher of the native language to foreign students, and actually corresponded with us over email when we were registering at the university. She helped to choose our local language names. She and her boyfriend helped us buy our first phone, eat at our first restaurant, and shop at our first grocery store. She came over to tutor us occasionally and we became good friends. In the picture below she had invited us to her house for lunch in the first few months that we lived here. Notice that "clean" kitchen!

The amazing part is that she is still one of my dearest friends! She and her boyfriend-turned-husband (we were at their wedding) now have a 3 year old son and live a few floors above us in our apartment building! We lost touch for awhile but then reconnected by seeing each other on the street one time. I love her infectious laugh, her humble, sweet spirit, and her love for Father. So thankful for my friend Angie!

These two pictures are from when our books arrived via M-bag from the States. All the books we couldn't do without were shipped at about a $1 a pound. Wow, those days sure are gone! Shipping overseas now practically requires a small fortune!

Here's a picture of John and I on a break from our language classes on the balcony overlooking part of the campus where we lived and studied. The other students came out to smoke, we just came out for a bit of "fresh" air and conversation before plunging back into another language.
I mentioned in my previous post that I had to change my habit to shower at night. Here's proof! A cup of decaf never hurt anything either!
This picture is from a dinner we had in our very first few weeks here. We had been introduced to a young college student with excellent English and he helped us get to know the city a bit. He became a real friend. We enjoyed this hot pot meal together.
He took us downtown to see the city square and its famous blue statue, meant to represent the natural underground springs unique to this city. Little did we know the smog we experienced that day was to become a regular part of our life!

This young man and his girlfriend also took us to visit another city landmark: the Lake. It was winter, gray and cold, but we had fun anyway! I remember the girlfriend linked her arm through mine as we walked along and I wasn't sure what to do about that!

Here's a few pictures of our student dorm, which we turned into a cozy refuge:
A "leather" chair next to the bed...

Plastic flooring and a pretty rug on the floor, our magnet collection on the radiators, a curtain (really just a sheet with a loop sewn into it for hanging) to separate the living area from the sleeping all helped!

The bed, spread with our special quilt made by John's grandmother (this is our Select Comfort bed that we packed from the States by deflating and taking it apart!).

And John's desk workspace. Behind his head you can see just a glimpse of our "kitchen": we owned two bowls, two spoons, two sets of chopsticks, and two mugs. We got creative with hot water: instant oatmeal, instant noodles, coffee and tea, those were all staples in those early months. Until of course, we bought a toaster and I thought I had really struck it rich! Some things haven't changed too much...this is still how I get around town! I just took about a five year hiatus in the middle there (being pregnant, having a new baby, repeat x3). Now I usually have one or two kids with me on the bike!

Our bathroom in that dorm room also doubled as the drying room for our laundry, which I could wash on the bottom floor of our dorm building. We strung up clothesline and it worked just fine. I was so thankful for that bathroom! (especially as morning sickness took its course!)
A final picture of the inside of our room, this is looking from the living area toward the front door. We made the most of that space!

Ahh, memories! Isn't it fun to look back and remember how things used to be? Hope you enjoyed these old photos!


Kevin and Becky said...

Your home has come a long way, that's for sure. And I thought I had an uphill battle when I saw that terrible tiger printed glass in my apartment.

sandra said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. LOVE this post! You guys were SO smart to lay that flooring. What a difference.

I'm so inspired by this post. Telling the story is more important than if it's chronological or not.

erica said...

Thanks for sharing! I remember hearing all about your place, but it was fun to see!
I wish we had taken more pictures of our 'first' china apartment... but truthfully, I was NUMB the entire time we lived there... and just focused on staying warm! :) But I have come along way since then!!!

Can't believe it has been 7 years since we came back!

rachel said...

I loved looking at these pictures again! John looks so....thin! and boyish! =)