My first apartment in China was, by Chinese standards, luxurious. Maybe one day I'll have time to scan and post pictures. The entire apartment would fit in my living room now. We had an entryway, a kitchen with a balcony, a living room with a balcony, a bathroom with a real western toilet, a bathtub (but only an electric shower for the water supply), and two bedrooms. My bedroom was the smaller of the two since I was the junior teacher. It was rectangular shaped, and we were on the fourth floor. Our male teachers were on the third floor directly below us, and the foreign affairs director was directly above us. They said that way we girls would be safe. The numbers across from us were a little scared of foreigners, and many of the children took accordian lessons, providing us with many whaling exercises every night. Right outside my roommate's window was a campus loudspeaker which gave the 6am wake up call for students, news, and exercise orders (that's how I learned to count to 8 in Chinese!), noon annoucements and news, and 6pm news, as well as daycare music for the campus daycare next door. I always felt guilty that I lived in such a "big" apartment. My single Chinese colleagues where next door in a dorm type setting. They were thankful to only have four teachers to a room and a community kitchen to cook in on each floor. The students were eight to a room, community bathroom, and cafeteria for meals.
Rooms/Apartments # 12&13: I left the Northwest of China and headed Northeast for a year of language school. Due to the last minute arrangements, I was the only single female on my dorm floor. I had the first room on the first floor on the right, and we had HOT running water 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night! That was a BIG plus after only having undrinkable cold water the year before. Still had to boil drinking water, but it was so nice to have a real, steaming hot shower. Down the hallway was our community kitchen and laundry room, next door to the two American families. Everyone else on our floor was either Japanese or Korean boys, which was often a pain because they would get loud when they drank. In between semesters, the international students director came to us saying he had an option for us to consider. A friend of his had a promotion at work (meaning he got an apartment), but to save money he and his wife were going to continue living with his parents and rent the apartment out. Another student and I took it, thinking it would help our Chinese to be living in the community. It was the nicest apartment I had in China. The water didn't always make it up to our floor, and some days we didn't get hot water, but I no longer had to contend with earthworms crawling up the drain and the noise of dorm life.
Apartment #14: Back to Yinchuan for the next school year. The year I was in language school the teachers had all moved down an entryway (meaning our apartments were at the corner of the building). Each apartment was smaller than before, maybe half the size, but we each had our own apartment, which I loved. I was on the top floor, and on days when I was homesick I would sit out on the balcony and watch the daycare kids. Kids are the same anywhere. It made things seem less strange. I actually have a video of this apartment, as this is the apartment I was living in when Bobby and his sister and brother-in-law came to visit. They had a video camera so were able to make a quick shot for my parents to see. I thought if Mom could see things weren't that bad she would relax about where I was. It had the opposite effect. I never told her that wasn't my 2nd best apartment in China.
Apartment #15: a one bedroom, dirty carpeted place across from Garner High School. It met my needs, and I loved having access to the apartment laundry facilities across the street. I moved out of this apartment 13 months later, the same week I got married.
House #16: 8483 Bryan Rd. We joke about moving, but I don't envy anyone who has to pack and move. I know there will come a time when it will happen, but Lord willing, I'm very thankful that it won't be any time soon.