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Hangzhou: Week 1 is Done!

I have officially made it through week 1 in Hangzhou, China. The program I am working for is an absolute nightmare, and I wouldn't recommend any teacher to sign up. However, instead of getting into those details (which I have already complained far too much about to Fitz… Thank you!!!), I want to just talk about China, and how much I actually love exploring here.

China is a funny place, because some parts are so over-the-top-city, covered in grey smog, tall buildings and knock-off fashion everywhere… but some parts are absolutely breath-taking, covered in green ivy and willow trees and mountains.

I have been moved to West Lake, the most beautiful part of Hangzhou. This is the part of the city people come to see. The part where, despite how heavy it may be, you can actually stop for a moment and inhale the fresh air. I am hoping to take a boat tour this weekend and post some photos!

However, in the humid month of July, Hangzhou is incredibly hot. The temperature has been in the high 80s, low 90s all week, but with a humidity level of around 95% each day, the air usually feels like it’s over 100 degrees! I have never sweat so much in my life. In the U.S., at least as women, we hit puberty in middle school and then grow up constantly making sure we don’t have pit stains, or back sweat, or “swamp ass.” But here, in this weather, all of that is completely unavoidable, and I have simply given up. I bring a spare shirt to work, because I know by the end of the day I will have sweat through the one I started with. I shower in the morning before work, just so my hair is wet on my 20 minute walk to school. I shower when I get home from work, just so my hair is wet on whatever-minute walk I have to dinner. I shower before bed, just so my skin is as clean as possible before climbing into the hotel sheets (which they do not clean every day as in the U.S.). It’s safe to say that I shower more here than I ever have in my life (and sweat more, too)!

I have to embark on my walk to lunch pretty soon, so before I end this post, I’d like to take a minute to list My Top 5 Things You Should Bring to China in the summer… things I didn’t think to pack!

  1. Hiking Sandals.

I packed only one pair of Converse, and wore my Birkenstocks on the plane. I thought I would be mostly in a school, so this would be fine, but I was wrong. People walk in Hangzhou much more than I am used to walking at home. During the school day in the States, I am lucky to get in around 10,000 steps in one day, including my 3 mile morning walk and gym routine. Here in Hangzhou, I get in an average of 20,000 steps without going to the gym or taking a morning walk! Hiking sandals, such as Keens or Chacos would have been much better than my Birks! (I say hiking sandals because it is just too hot for boots or sneakers in my opinion.)

  1. Purchase a VPN.

  2. Virtual Private Network. This is something that I did as soon as I got to my hotel, but it would have been easier to do it at home without having to worry about China getting my credit card information. Luckily I have PayPal, so I used that to purchase my VPN. This is necessary, because China censors everything from Google to Facebook. From what I understand, the VPN makes it look like makes it look like I am using the internet from California, rather than right under the Chinese government's nose.

  3. Umbrella.

  4. Whether it’s to stay out of the heavy rain or out of the heavy sun, this is a good thing to have. I haven’t used one yet, but am considering buying one today just to keep some shade over my head and avoid severe sweating. That being said… it might also be a good idea to pack mostly synthetic clothing… stuff that dries quickly from both the rain and your puddles of sweat.

  5. Handkerchief

  6. Another one that has to do with sweating. I usually always bring one with me when I travel, just because they come in handy for so many things, but I just forgot one this time around. This would have been helpful for the continuous beads of sweat down my face and neck, but also for any time I eat, since many restaurants here don’t provide free napkins.

  7. Reusable Bag

  8. Yeah. That’s something you have to pay for too. And you’ll need it. Especially for all the water you’ll be buying to avoid dehydration or heat stroke… The water here is full of bacteria!

Ta-Ta for now, friends! Thanks for reading :) If you want to see pictures of my adventures here in Hangzhou, click the Facebook or Instagram link below!

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