It's nice that the school and hotel have provided kitchens for the students, but these kitchens really frustrate me--the Chinese project managers don't really seem to understand what non-Chinese students might need, and I can understand that--I would not know the needs of Chinese students if building a kitchen for them--but I wish they would listen and come up with solutions, just as I hope I would do.
The kitchen next to us has no less than five woks. Five. I would just be amused by this, if it weren't for my discovery that the other pots--soup pots, saucepans, frying pans--won't work on the stoves.
I asked if we could get some other stoves since nothing but woks work on these, but we were told that no fire is allowed. Coil burners? Apparently they don't have those in China. So we've been trying to figure out how to make all our normal food in woks, and let me tell you, it is much more of a new ballgame than you would think. These stoves may be really fast at heating water (it seems like they use microwaves somehow, because when you pull the pot away, the surface isn't really hot), but they pulse for some reason. Finally, we only have two stoves. Michael and I used all four for some of our meals in San Francisco, and now we're sharing two with 20+ people.
The kitchen is loud and echo-y. If they're going to have a sitting area and a TV so people stay in there while we're sleeping next door, it would be nice if they would get a rug, too.
There's nowhere to store our food--times this by at least ten other people and imagine the problem. We asked for a shelf as well and haven't heard anything, which seems to mean that nothing will happen.
There's a microwave, but no oven. The people on our floor got together and bought most of the kitchen supplies (everything besides the microwave, fridge, stoves, and pots), meaning that people from other floors have been coming to use our kitchen or take our items. I wish the university had just bought all of the same items for all the kitchens, because every student will need those items, and it seems silly for every round of students to have to sell all their kitchen supplies to the next people.
With all that space, and an unused bathroom behind the TV (seriously, there's not even toilet paper in there), you'd think they could put in an oven and expand the cooking area so that we wouldn't have to move to other kitchens sometimes. That space on the left would be perfect for an oven, don't you think? It's for a water filter, which has yet to arrive. Also, the fridge has two doors, but they both open into the same space--there's no freezer! The fridge also doesn't have small shelves or drawers to make separation simple.
Several students have also asked that a washing machine be put in. Apparently laundromats don't exist here, and the laundry service we "have a deal with" is several times more expensive than we would prefer. Michael and I have been talking about just using our tub to wash our clothes, but it's a lot of work and there's nowhere for us to hang our clothes to dry.
There are solutions to some of these problems, they just aren't very convenient or consistent--if we want to make rolls, we have to do that in a different kitchen, and if we don't want to have to go back and forth, we have to carry all of our stuff (food and supplies) to a different kitchen with an oven. If we want to put our stuff in a freezer, we have to go up to the 10th floor student space. Filtered water? Luckily, Michael and I brought a water filter pitcher with us that we keep in our room, but everyone else has to go up to the 10th floor. Sigh. We're still waiting on a solution to the darkness of the rooms and the storage so we can finally unpack our suitcases, and I get the feeling that nothing will happen.
So do we spend our own money to buy all pre-made food or to pay for all the supplies and services we need, or do we just continue to deal with things as they are? Still working on that . . .