The time has come for Marco S, Tom and myself to quit this joint (campus accommodation) and move into the lovely Team Denmark’s old apartment in Wudaokou. It’s a central beauty with the best possible location smack in the middle of the international students’ entertainment district. My rent will now be 3300 Yuan / month in contrast to the previous 80 Yuan / month, but as far as I’m concerned, staying here is no longer a sustainable option. Many positive superlatives can be said about my stay here in China, but there are aspects with this accommodation which I find unacceptable to any living creature with 46 chromosomes and a beating heart. Of course, the office told us that this was only a temporary solution and that proper international dorms would open in November. Right, that was 3 months ago and renovation has still not even started, ergo grade A- bullshit.
These are the things I mustn’t forget that I hated when, months from now, I will nostalgically try to reconstruct and romanticize about my days at Da Xue:
#1) To never be able to eat when I want; because breakfast is only served 7-9 a.m, lunch 11.30- 1 p.m and dinner 5- 6.45 p.m. After that, and in between meal-times, nothing. There is no kitchen or refrigerator accessible to the students. If we tried to install a fridge or something in the dorms, odds are that the power will shut off because the net isn’t strong enough. God help you if you miss meal-time.
#2) To not be able to eat or shower at all if the money on your student card run out; because the bloody office that handles the student card top- ups is only open on weekday mornings. Thus, you are utterly screwed if your money runs out during the weekend or – god forbid- during the Chinese new year when all offices are closed for three weeks!
#3) That the fucking office where one tops up one’s student card does not even have the energy to be open during their office hours, but regularly closes too early (N.B the already ridiculous opening hours of this office!).
#4) To have to plan one’s whole day and existence around ‘when I could possibly shower’; because the mess is only open between 4- 9 p.m. Thus: never a morning shower; never a shower before bed; never a shower after the club; always smelling foul coming home, since everyone here smokes at public places (probably my biggest problem with the Beijing nightlife). Oh and, SURPRISE, during the weeks of Chinese New Year, the showers are only open THREE days a week, three hours every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. And if you don’t want/ need to shower when they want you to, bad luck.
#5) To never have a place to study; because my desk is too small and the library is under ‘construction’ (? I haven’t seen any progress at all these past months. Probably a lie, like many other things the office here says). Furthermore, the aspect of sharing your room with 3 other people means that you will be a massive party-pooper if your roommates don’t need to study when you do, and since everyone here is doing different things, the likelihood of synchronized study-regimes is non-existent.
#6) That internet is severely compromised between 7 p.m. and midnight every day, because of over- load.
#7) To have to wash my hands in ice- cold water and never be able to dry them; because the enormous communal washrooms neither have hot water, soap, towels nor dryers. This might not seem like a big deal, but considering how many times a day you wash your hands and it being an unpleasant business every time, it can annoy the hell out of you.
#8) To not be able to be spontaneous with things (regardless of how nice roommates you have); because everything you do in your room affects your roommates too.
#9) To always freeze. The campus radiators are clearly not working. Anyhow, they aren’t much use anyway when doors are left wide open to the outside -10 degrees for ‘ventilation’.
The above listed aspects do not come as a natural part of doing an exchange in China, as our campus is well below standards when you compare with other Beijing universities (however, it does tell you something about how authorities manage to control even the small aspects of everyday life here, with crazy opening- hours for everything and very limited possibilities to seek other alternatives). Campuses here are often lavish and extensive (Bei Da has a freaking lake and two rivers on their campus, and Tsing Hua has seventeen canteens). I haven’t heard of any other international student living like we do. In fact, I have heard that it is against Chinese Law to subject international students to these conditions (something about that colleges have the obligation to offer student accommodation where students don’t have to share rooms with more than 1 other person).
I literally CANNOT WAIT to get the apartment tomorrow, aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh.