a transplanted life in China 

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Suzhou

 北寺塔 North Temple Pagoda, Suzhou   I’ve now been living in Suzhou for two and a half weeks. At long last the trials and tribulations of the visa process have come to an end, the car drive across China from Chengdu to the east coast has been done, and I’ve settled into my new apartment. In the midst of all this, three wonderful weeks spent in Chicago passed like a dream. As of this moment, I’ve met all of my EAP (English for Academic Purposes) students, approximately 80 of them divided into four classes. I have each class for four hours a week, which comes to 16 hours of teaching, plus office hours. Between classes I’m in my private office in the Science Building, complete with brand-new large-screen computer and a printer. I keep wanting to pinch myself – did all this really happen, despite my misgivings and uncertainty about ever obtaining a work visa? I guess they did.        Location of Suzhou in China     A short recap: I was offered a two-year teaching contract as an English Tutor at Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, located in the section of Suzhou known as Higher Education Town, in the southern part of Suzhou Industrial Park. It’s a vast suburban sprawl, but with some stunningly beautiful landscaping; the whole area, so I’ve read, is a joint venture between Singapore and China. Fortunately, the apartment I found is three bus stops away from school. The dog and I have settled in

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monochrome Chicago

 Elevated tracks at Leavitt Street, Wicker Park     Foremost Liquors, Argyle Street       Belmont and Clark, Lake View

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Goodbye Chicago

 Chicago Theater   It’s over. Three weeks of indulging in food fantasies, hanging out with my dear brother, exploring Chicago, went by very quickly. Oh, the clothes and shoes I bought. In China it’s virtually impossible to find “western” sizes, so I had a good excuse to go slightly mad in Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Old Navy, and an incredible shoe store called Altman’s, where they won’t let you leave the store unless the shoes fit perfectly. It was old-fashioned service, actually measuring both feet, bringing stacks of shoe boxes for inspection, and fitting my hard-to-fit feet.      Wabash Avenue, El steps, pigeons   I even took a stab at riding a bike along the lake front. In my college days, I could easily make the 25-mile round trip from Evanston south to McCormick Place, but this time I was winded after just 45 minutes or so. 8 years of China smog, lack of exercise, and laziness have caught up with me (OK, age has something to do with it too). My brother and I visited the Art Institute on a (free) Thursday evening, to catch the Magritte exhibition. We explored Chicago neighborhoods I’d never visited before, and I experienced the reverse culture shock of returning to my home country only the second time in 8 years. Most surprising, I guess, was the friendliness of the people. I’m a native midwesterner, and lived in Chicago in my youth, but I simply didn’t remember this kind of friendliness. It was a

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Chicago buildings

Trump Tower, viewed from Wabash Avenue; the Chicago El (elevated train) is on the left   Chicago is an architecture-lover’s dream. After the 1871 Chicago Fire, and later the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the city attracted many of thecountry’s greatest architects. Chicago was the birthplace of the skyscraper, and home to architects such as Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. I spent part of my 3 weeks in the city exploring buildings I had never seen before. The mild weather made for perfect opportunities to walk and take photographs.       The Driehaus Museum (originally the Nickerson Mansion), features perhaps the finest 19th-century interiors created in Chicago, reflecting the sensibilities of the Aesthetic Movement. I took a guided tour of the mansion on my 2nd day in Chicago.      Driehaus Museum: main hall and staircase      Driehaus Museum: smoking room      Driehaus Museum: dining room View more photos of the interior in my Flickr Album here.      Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park      Frank Lloyd Wright studio, exterior detail      Frank Lloyd Wright, Heurtley House, Oak Park. The suburb of Oak Park, where Wright lived from about 1889 to 1909, has a large concentration of the architect’s early work.      Frank Lloyd Wright, Robie House, Hyde Park, 1910. This is Wright’s Prairie Style masterpiece.      Robie House, interior and leaded-glass windows More Frank Lloyd Wight photos are in my Flickr Album here.       One of my

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