Sunday, September 21, 2014

A week of travelling back and forth


This past week has been eventful in all sorts of way. We have been going back and forth to downtown Jinan to meet with various authorities to prepare for our residence application at the end of the week. And to finish off the week, we invited two of our Chinese friends to an amusement park at the outskirts of Jinan. I'll leave that part out of this post so that I won't have to think of something to write and post pictures of for the next one.


So. To apply for the residence permit we have been filling out a bunch of paperwork. And when I say we, I really just mean Yin, a Chinese professor who has been all sorts of helpful with a lot of things since we arrived. Taking care of both paperwork and apartment issues.

One day we ventured downtown Jinan to go through a medical examination. We were greeted by a group of Chinese girls who shoved their faces up against the window as we approached the hospital and unleashed wail-like noises, maybe it was excitement, when we walked through the doors. One of us, Anton, decided the embrace the inner Chinese girl within him and joined them for a photo session and general tomfoolery. You know, your general hospital visit.

With the help of Tiffany and Alvis, we sped through seven different examinations throughout the hospital. They were all weird and did not feel very legitimate. Apparently I have shrunk since I last measured myself. And this time I wore shoes. Accuracy was not the name of the game tonight. But then again, the results of the weight and height examination was not likely to deny anyone the permit.

We left to get some dinner before we moved on to the next item on our agenda. Registration for our HSK Level 1 (Chinese language course) examination. It turns out you physically need to show up at an office and register for the exam, supposedly you might have to take the exam at this same location. I am not quite sure.


Early morning on campus.

School is in overdrive and we have several projects up and running, including a messy programming project where me and another one of the Swedish students team up with three, maybe four - still unclear, Chinese students. Interviewing the local population about computer software is not easy. Specially when the one Chinese student who had the opportunity to show up has some trouble understanding us. What is actually being said in Chinese and then passed on to us, I have no idea.

It's a good thing the students of Shanghai are still blogging about all the fun stuff they are doing as they have yet to start school.


The freshmen of every Chinese university has to go through a two week long military training process. In one end of our campus they have occupied six basketball courts and the soccer stadium where they march about, sing, shout and train.

Such march, much discipline.
If there is one place in Jinan where I would have expected a foreigner to be able to walk around somewhat unnoticed, or at the very least, being paid very little attention, it would have been here. But no matter how hard the Chinese work on their discipline it is much too fun to wave and giggle as the foreigner approach. They were very discreet about it though, can't let their commanding officer see it.

Large open areas, perfect for a morning march.

Yi, Er, Yi - One, Two, One

A couple of documents, plus passport, needed for the residence permit application.

Finally it was time to apply for the residence permit. We met up with Professor Yin who was accompanied by a student of his who will remain nameless for this post. Mr. Yin had to attend a meeting, so he assured us that the student of his would help us instead. He mentioned that his English was lacking, but that he had gone through this several times before and that he would use his body language if needed. It was going to be needed.

Once again we headed somewhere in downtown Jinan. The place is huge. The bus driver and the student ushered us into a very official-looking building. The student spoke to a man, who proceeded to give us our position in the queue.

We sat in the waiting room for just a minute or two before the student hurried away towards the clerk and motioned me to follow. I sat down in a chair as the student and the clerk conversed. The student glued a picture of my face to the application and tore a piece in two before he ran out of the room and got the other students applications and did the same to them.

The clerk said something in Chinese. And as I sat there with a big question-mark over my face he asked me to get my teacher, in perfect English. I brought back the student helping us out. They once again spoke a bit before I was handed my application and was supposedly done.

I join the others in the waiting room as the student continues on with the applications. Eventually he comes out and starts to speak to me. He really tried but it was very difficult to make out actual words. The words: 'Your application is denied because we don't have matching passport numbers for you' are probably ones he doesn't use very often.

His body language did show it all though. He seemed concerned. That, and the fact that the other students did not get their application back, but instead a slip of paper, gave it all away. The student hands me his phone and Mr. Yin is on the other end to confirm what I assumed. He wanted to make sure that I knew what this meant for today and so that was nice.

He asked me whether I ever have changed passports. I have. To apply for the visa I had to create a new one. And in the process my passport numbers had changed. I remember mailing my coordinator in Sweden about this. And I also distinctly remember getting that confirmation email about having received my new passport details. But somewhere along the way someone messed up. Yin apologized time and time again and reassured me that we would fix this but he also mentioned that he had never gone through this specific process before.

If there is one thing the Chinese has showed so far it is a surprising helpfulness.

Two minutes later I am handed the phone again. It is Yin calling me to tell me about a supposed easy fix. All I need to do is sign a paper confirming that I indeed have changed passports recently. He says we will take care of this as soon as the weekend is over.


The weekend is soon over and hopefully I will be able to apply for my residence permit tomorrow. At least my medical examinations result say my development is Excellent, and they found no abnormal findings. So I have got that going for me, which is nice.

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