Foreign Frustrations. Part #1: “Internet” “Apartment”

I do understand that I am in a country where I do no speak the same language, but this post is not about my frustrations with the people who only speak Chinese. It is with the people who claim to speak English without putting a disclaimer that they only speak a little and those who actually know the meaning to “yes” and then misuse the word.

On a daily basis there are many communication obstacles that pop up, but I (and usually Fabien) push through them without too much struggle. If you read one of my previous blogs (Keeping it Classy in Guangzhou), I explained the experience of renting an apartment. For weeks now, we have been trying to accomplish a couple important missions. This blog chronicles our quest to have internet in our apartment.

The first two weeks in our apartment, we couldn’t even find the China Telecom store. Then one day, while walking through a mall, I saw it. When I went in, no one spoke a lick of English and I didn’t have my Chinese books, so I decided to try again another day.

The next day I went to the store, I memorized the words “internet” and “apartment” hoping they would understand. Somehow, they weren’t putting two and two together. After about 20 minutes the girl said, in English “You want to go online in your home?” The light bulb went off. Yes! She told me I needed to buy a sim card and a portable wireless router. I bought my computer along so I could make sure it was working before I left store. As soon as she saw my computer she said “You don’t have a Chinese computer?” Okay, seriously? If I can barely get out the two words “apartment” and “internet” then why would I have a Chinese computer. The salesgirl advised me that I needed a different USB plugin for my computer and I’d need to go up the stairs, down the street and left to get this special plugin. BUT, she would be willing to sell me the sim card in the meantime. Ummm… thanks. I decided to no go on the wild goose chase and instead go home. China Telecom 1, Stacie & Fabien 0. Good thing because I found out that portable internet is super slow.

The next time was Saturday morning. Fabien woke up determined to “get internet in our apartment by noon”. I couldn’t help but chuckle when he said that knowing that at noon he would probably be having a meltdown in China Telecom (rightfully so). So, he & I went to a different China Telecom where they also spoke a little English. After only a few minutes Fabien communicated what he wanted and they seemed to understand. Then the conversation went like this:

Fabien: When will it be installed?
China Telecom: Yes.
Fabien: When will installation happen?
China Telecom: I guess, Monday.
Fabien: You guess, Monday?
China Telecom: Maybe.
Fabien: Okay, how will I know what time to be home on Monday?
China Telecom: The worker will call you.
Fabien: Does the worker speak English?
China Telecom: Maybe. I guess.

You can see where this is going. After an hour of this type of conversation, all parties agreed that Fabien would come, Monday morning, to their office and they would come install it. However when Monday morning arrived that was merely a point where they would schedule installation, which was Tuesday morning at 10:00. Whatever. We had a day, time and a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

And sure enough, the universe decided to give us a break and the China Telecom installation guy was here at 10 a.m. For the most part, he did get us internet. It doesn’t work on my computer because “It’s an Apple and you need special software.” (which I’ve never heard before). I almost punched him when he looked at my computer and shook his head “no”. Fabien talked to someone in his IT department that advised him we could just buy a router and have wireless thought the apartment. But, we have internet. Hallelujah.

The next blog will be Foreign Frustration Part#2: We Fought the Law and the Law Won.

Also, there are pics from this past weekend of us around town in Guangzhou and at the Zoo (i.e. cuddly panda’s and tigers) in the Photo Gallery.

2 thoughts on “Foreign Frustrations. Part #1: “Internet” “Apartment”

  1. Lara says:

    Highly entertaining as usual. I almost feel bad laughing actually, b/c this is actually happening to you. FYI – unless I’m missing something, the weekend photos are linked to not .com, so the link won’t open. It says the link is not available in this country.


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