Police station, medical screenings, apartment finding, oh my!

First week in Qingdao


Welcome to Qingdao! … now let’s check your health 🙂


We couldn’t drink or eat anything after midnight that first evening in Qingdao due to the medical screening the next day. This was QUITE the adventure. At 9:20am on the second day in Qingdao, staff from CISQD picked up a group of 7 foreigners (fellow new teachers at the school) from the hotel. You can imagine that I was already quite “hangry” by 9:20am. At the hospital, we competed a very systematic set of medical steps. They happened in a circuit around the top floor of the hospital. Here they are:

  1. Fill out a piece of paperwork
  2. Get a bunch of labels for the various tests to be done
  3. Pick up urine kit
  4. Complete urine kit (in Chinese toilet, quite the balancing act with a pungent odor)
  5. Blood draw (butterfly needles thank goodness)
  6. Chest X-ray
  7. ECG (involving mini suction cups on random areas of the body and metal clamps on wrists and ankles, felt like an episode from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
  8. Ultrasound to ensure the kidneys are present (involved awkward pokes in-between and under the ribs)
  9. Eye exam for sight
  10. Eye exam for color
  11. Blood pressure

After that, we were able to snarf down cookie snacks that we brought. Needless to say, we were very hungry and tired of being poked and prodded.

There were a couple of “interesting” findings by the medical team. Firstly, it was discovered that Grant’s heart is abnormal. His ECG spiked off the chart. We were given strict orders of no alcohol, caffeine, or cigarettes for Grant until his heart returns to normal. Also, it was discovered in the ultrasound test that Grant only has one kidney; the other one could not be found. This is surprising information, of course, because it is usually declared at birth if someone only has one kidney. You would also think that only one kidney would mean that Grant is a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. Not that Grant drinks alcohol; due to the heart problem of course. At any rate, the Chinese doctors all agreed that Grant should probably be dead by now…or is at least a ticking time bomb. Time will tell.



On the afternoon of the medical screen adventures, we were picked up by a school representative and a realtor. We looked at five apartments in the Qingdao area. Some were close to the beach and some were close to supermarkets/malls. All the apartments were chosen due to their close location to the school bus route to facilitate transport to and from school each day. We debated the pros and cons of each location we were shown, and chose a two-floor loft. We signed the contract with the landlord and realtor the following day. The day was Wednesday, and we had until Sunday for our apartment to be vacated and cleaned. Between Wednesday and Sunday, we laid low, ate at the great Ocean Knight restaurant routinely, and made friends with other teachers at the school.

Amazing new friends/teacher colleagues from South Africa and New Zealand



Here is the last image from us at the hotel in all our glory with all our luggage.


The mattress at the hotel was like sleeping on planks so we were definitely happy to say “PEACE OUT!” (hotel room image below)


The staff at the school helped us move all our items into the apartment. (Stay tuned for the apartment video from Grant). We unpacked on Sunday evening and got ready for the next big chapter the following day; SCHOOL inservice 🙂

Meal provided by our landlord, Mr. Ji, after we moved in. He is very nice!

First meal made at the house by Grant; chicken curry. Grant and Gregory, our new friend and teacher colleague from South Africa, in “the loft”.

Grant & Alison Have Arrived!

After loading up on the last American meal that we’d be having for a while (at 5 Guys, the finest of American cuisine, thanks to Alison’s dad, Dave) we arrived at the airport with our 9 to-check and 4 carry-on bags in tow.

IMG_0145After getting through security we had plenty of time before the first flight and leg of our journey. What does one do with 2 hours to kill before an international flight? Naturally, we made our way over to the bar. IMG_0153

After filling up on microbrews, it was time to make our way to Atlanta. Our Atlanta to Seoul flight was our next and longest. This almost 15- hour flight was a haul! Not bad, but difficult. Neither of us can sleep well on planes and we were in the very back row. Fun travel tip for your next flight in case you didn’t know…the back row of seats doesn’t recline = good luck sleeping. But we had fun with the complimentary slippers and food provided.

IMG_0163Arriving in Seoul early the following morning gave us time to find a bathroom, get cleaned up, change our clothes, and find a spot in the terminal to try and squeeze in a few hours of sleep. It was here in Seoul that we realized America really needs to step up their bathroom game. If you’ve never tried a toilet with a bidet, then warmly fans said hind parts!…Oh, well you haven’t really lived, have you? Total game changer. Of course it was a little bit like Russian Roulette since neither one of us can speak or read Korean. But, you only live once. Sometimes you just have to roll the dice and hope you pushed the right button. IMG_0170

Our final flight for Qingdao was a quick 60 minute hope across the Yellow Sea. Fast, easy, and uneventful. It was a relief to finally set foot in our new home after so many hours of traveling. After making it through customs to the baggage claim, we were both incredibly amazed that all of our 9 checked, and mostly overweight bags, arrived with us! We each thought that at least one wouldn’t make it. We were greeted by a member of our school’s HR department who helped us buy Chinese SIM cards for our phones, and helped us check into our hotel. But before we went to our hotel we had to check in with the local police station. As foreigners living in China, you have to check in with the local authorities upon your arrival. Living in China comes with a new and different set of rules and laws…this is just one of them.

Nothing short of a miracle – all of the bags made it to TAO 🙂

Once we dumped our bags down it was time for the great debate, to sleep or not to sleep? By this time it was about noon and we were trying to stay awake so the jetlag wouldn’t cripple us for the next few days while we acclimated to +12 hour time difference. So, tired and groggy we made our way into a shopping center to find some food. Finding a spot that Alison said looked good (it had 4 foot tall dancing lobster statues outside), we entered a new world of Chinese food. The first thing we noticed was that there was absolutely no English on the menu and neither of us knows enough Mandarin to get by yet…so with the help of our broken Mandarin, a few phone apps, and a lot of pointing, we ordered some amazing noodles and wontons.

Last leg of the trip!
Our new favorite spot!

33+ hours in four airports, +12 hour time difference, and 0 hours of sleep later, we made it to Qingdao! YAAAAAAA! Now off to get some sleep! The next adventures that awaits us … medical screenings and apartment hunting.