I had intended to teach at a school in Beijing this year. But When I got there in August, I wasn't comfortable or satisfied with the situation, so I scrambled to find a new position. I wound up taking an offer in Zhengzhou, and for the past few months have been busy getting a visa and then moving in. It really has only been in the past few weeks that I have felt settled. It was quite a learning experience along the way (with plenty of highly frustrating moments), but that was part of what I was gunning for. I've got a decent understanding now of how visas and residence permits work--and all the paperwork necessary for them. I also decided to find an apartment outside of the university, so I now have some knowledge of how to navigate the rental market-- and all the paperwork necessary for doing so. One of my major goals this year is to learn the bureaucratic systems and improve my language level. I figure, if I can achieve that, I'll be a good ways towards being able to feel comfortable living here.
I ended up finding an apartment not too far away from my university in a residential area called, 龙子湖 (Longzihu). It's a new part of town that is ringed by a man-made lake, and surrounded by dozens and dozens of campuses (Someone told me 40+). It's on the outskirts of the city, but the up and coming place to be. The subway is right outside my apartment building, and there are lots of good restaurants. On top of that, it's a lovely 10 minute bike ride along the lake to get to school. On the downside, there aren't any major stores or supermarkets nearby, so I have to go into town to do more substantial shopping. Enter the wonders of 淘宝 (taobao), China's Amazon.
After learning I could link my bank account to wechat, and my wechat wallet to taobao, I've been using the taobao app to buy nearly everything. While setting up my apartment I've ordered a desk and chairs, a water cooler, kitchen appliances, a space heater, and even bolt cutters (since my bike lock rusted shut). I also participated in the "Single's Days" sale on Nov 11, buying a nice watch.
Now that the basics are in place, I hope to explore more of the city and surrounding areas. I'd really love to check out the nearby historical sites. I'm not necessarily envisioning Zhengzhou as a long term place to live, but it has been pleasant enough location so far.