Or: The Cozy Place I Call Home

Warning: This post is PG-13 for language.

Up until now, my interactions with the people living in my hotel apartment could be summed in the following ways:

  1. Commiserating in the elevators about the miserly building managers’ thrift.
  2. Commiserating about the lack of air-con.
  3. Calling out the floor number as we get on for the sake of people getting off.

That last bit is especially important, since none of the floors are labeled. It really sucks when you live on the 48 floor…but get off on the 32nd.

Welcome to the 48th floor. Happy falling!
Welcome to the 48th floor. Happy falling!

Having shared my living space with others for the past 20 years, having a place all my own is a luxury. I thought I might be unused to it at first, but then I discovered the joys of singing aloud (badly) and dancing in your underwear. Yep, I’m living the tween life again.


The rent for my Nanjing studio is 3600 RMB (less than $600 a month–my flat-share in Seattle is $650). It’s complete with a stove, microwave, electric teapot, full-size fridge, laundry washer*, toilet**, shower. Pretty sweet deal, for an undergraduate intern abroad. (My full-time internship pays as much in a month as my minimum-wage, part-time job does in 2 weeks.) Purchasing power parity sucks in terms of housing.

*No machine dryer, as is the Chinese custom.
**Oh gods, a TOILET. What a blessed, blessed thing in a land of latrines…. P.S. Here’s a truly terrifying phrase: flush spray.

View from my window + Summer Smog

The property manager told me my apartment was the cheapest they had available, which is fine by me. I’ve never been a fan of five-star hotels anyway. Give me a bed, a toilet ♥, hot running water, some manner of getting hot food, and I am as happy as a cockroach.

…. Oh dear, did I forget to mention the cockroaches?

One night, woken up by the heat, I got up to get some water. It’s not exactly a straight path to the kitchen, and my quilted curtains block out all light pollution from the city, so I turned on the light and saw, fleeing towards the foot of my bed, a COCKROACH.

You fucking bet I shrieked.

Fast forward 4 hours—in which I squashed the little fucker (took 5 minutes–little fucker was fast), scoured the Internet for roach-purging methods, hysterically called my family in America, cleaned every surface and corner on an adrenaline high, killed another cockroach—I’m squatting on a chair with a shoe in my hand, the lights on, and far too jolted to sleep.

The whole time, I kept imagining swarms of bugs come pouring out of the cracks the moment I turned out the lights, certain they would find my orifices while I slept and decide to make home there. Every little splotch on the ground made me jump. Every little tickle of the A/C made me flinch.

So like any reasonable adult, I called home. How did they comfort me?

MAMA: Oh yeah they’re everywhere. You just get used to seeing them. At least they’re better than spiders. Now spiders, let me tell you…

BROTHER: This website says if you have cockroaches in your home… oh. Oh. Hey Sarah, you don’t want to know what this website says.

BABA: Just tell her to go to sleep, nothing she can do about them anyway. They probably live in the drains connecting all the showers.


I’m finally sleeping through the night, but I clean everyday. (Baba, you would be so proud at my obsessive level of detail.)

//weeping/ And I was so excited about living alone too!


One thought on “Neighbors in Nanjing

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