1. The Apartment
Upon arrival these are the things that were defective:
a. washing machine - really old and it leaked water so the clothes wouldn't even wash properly. In late September a new one was installed.
b. air conditioner: it also leaked water everywhere. In late September a new one was installed.
c. refrigerator - the freezer section does not work.
d. kitchen table - there is none. The contract says that there will be one but when I asked the FAO I was told, "You Americans just always go by what the contract says." So because of this I carried up a new kitchen table 6 flights of stairs from the apartment of one of the other teachers who finished teaching the term before. My wife and I also carried up a refrigerator 3 flights of stairs that actually had a workable freezer section.
So with the stress and being busy with classes just underway, September was also a hectic time just trying to get the apartment in some kind of working order.
I was told by the other NET that his washing machine and toilet has not worked since he moved in and there are no plans to repair or replace them. In December I was told by the Japanese teacher he received an unexpected "shower" in his living room coming from his ceiling due to faulty pipes.
The apartment building is old and dingy. It is also noisy - not all the time, but it is right next to an elementary school and two dogs right below who enjoy barking which is clearly within earshot. I am on the 6th floor so those below me must really suffer.
The Apartment's Location
It is not on campus or near the campus. Management conveniently never informed the other NET about this. They probably wouldn't have told me but I asked so I suppose they were "forced to." It is a 1 kilometer (a little more than half a mile) walk to the bus stop - not fun when it gets really cold here coupled with the fact that I somehow got 4 days of 8am classes (Saturday 8am to noon). I never slept well the night before. Lots of people and in a filthy area. Bus 26 will take you to the main campus in about 10 minutes. The school does offer a travel fee but it will cover less than half the month if you were to take a taxi.
The city does have a Walmart and a Wanda. Walmart has almost nothing from back home and even though it isn't that far away there are no buses that go directly there from your apartment. You must take two buses to get there. To get to Wanda take bus 16 but it is a very small bus and is almost always crowded to the max - throw in the fact that many here do no cover up when they cough and sneeze which makes it quite an unpleasant tight ride.
Management seems quite bereft of any kind of organization and honesty.
a. Just before the start of the first term one of the bosses of the English Department came to our apartment building and had a "meeting" with us in the stairwell. He told my wife and I that the first term would be "about 18 weeks" so after the meeting my wife and I booked our flight to the Philippines. It was 1 week before Christmas (the 16th week I believe) that we were informed that the term is really 20 weeks. Management was upset that we were leaving "early" but when we told them we based our decision to leave on what they had specifically told us they denied telling us!
b. In late September we were surprised to find out that all the sophomore classes we taught from the start of the term were going to end and in early October we would have new freshman classes. They were surprised that we were surprised, but as with what I happened to us in "a" no paper or document was given to us specifying what the schedule was and/or any kind of guidelines for our classes except "try to make them speak."
c. I received no reply when I asked why my Saturday morning class door was once locked. In fact, before we came to this school management told us that there would be no weekend classes. I should have had this written in the contract but they were already getting annoyed with all my suggested changes. Next time I know better. At least be aware that if they tell you no weekend classes be prepared to teach weekend classes. One thing that I did have them change (and I am glad I did) was a clause that stated something like if there was ever a disagreement about an interpretation of the contract then the management's view is always to be considered the correct one.
d. Sick days: 10 per year. When the other NET called in sick once the management referred to him as a "baby" and a severe argument over the phone ensued. I was told that I shouldn't take any sick days unless I was "really sick." They never checked on me when I did take them but they were bothered by it.
e. Our summer travel fee was paid 38 days late. It took several emails for our FAO to finally reimburse us. We were once told a specific day but then nothing happened. A few days later the FAO informed us that he was in Canada and wouldn't be back for another week so once again we had to wait.