I’ve been in Chengdu for almost 2 weeks now and it has taken me a bit of time to get adjusted. Chengdu is very different to my experience of being in Korea. During my first couple of days I did a lot of running around and going to various places to get things sorted, there are still a few things left to sort, but hopefully they will be done by the end of the month.
The first couple of days I spent trying to clean my apartment and figuring out what I needed to buy in order to make my life more comfortable. So I found a large department store about 25 minutes away and walked there. It reminded me of the layout in Homeplus back in Korea so it was easy to find a few things. However, I realized certain items I would need to look up in the dictionary and find them. I was a tad lazy and didn’t feel like asking everyone to find each and every item for me. For example, I have no spices currently in my house. Not even salt and pepper. I should probably go and find them so I can start cooking more often, but I figure I haven’t needed them yet so I’ll just make a large list and have someone help me once I figure out all the things I need.
So far navigating my neighborhood hasn’t been that difficult as I am accustomed to living in a city and meandering my way around. Looking at a map is also very useful. I mostly ate at school during lunch time or I ate at home for the last week or so, but yesterday I told myself to go out and order some food somewhere. So I found a restaurant with some pictures sat down and pointed to a spicy dumpling soup. Some more questions were thrown my way where I just smiled as I had no clue what was going on. When my soup came out it wasn’t spicy. Which made me laugh, I’m not sure if she asked me if I wanted it spicy or non spicy, or if she just assumed that I liked non spicy food. I suppose I won’t know the answer to that question either.
A picture menu isn’t as intimidating as a restaurant with only writing on the walls. I haven’t quite figured out how to order in restaurants like that, so I may avoid them for a bit. Or I can go in and just point to a dish someone else is eating and hopefully I have the same thing given to me. But that is a challenge I will leave for another day. Today I decided to try out the coffee shop next to my house, the coffee is okay. The girl that first greeted me was scared that I didn’t speak Chinese so she found someone who spoke some English to take my order. I realized afterwards its because I didn’t understand she was asking me if I wanted a hot or cold drink. Maybe if I come more often they will get used to me. I have to keep doing conversions in my head so that I don’t get freaked out by the prices of things. But I’m a little slow on math so that may take awhile. In the meantime I keep trying to find the cheapest thing on the menu to have.
So far the culture shock hasn’t been bad at all, but I’m sure it will settle in much later. Right now, I feel a bit frustrated that I can’t read anything at all. So when I want to look for something I can only look at a picture or show the word to someone, without knowing how to say it. I suppose I will pick up a few more words here and there. I recognize hearing the words for black tea, water, and teacher. Maybe next week I will recognize a few more words if they are said around me enough. Everything is a learning curve! One day at a time and taking small steps will get me exploring new things day by day.