i've had enough roommates already over the past few years that i'm not exactly nervous when they arrive; i know the routine, i've practiced it many times. they're the ones that're nervous because they don't know what they're getting into, and occasionally it's not only their first time in cambridge/boston, but their first time in the united states as well. i am however apprehensive because i don't know if they're going to be good or bad. usually they're good, but i've had a few rotten apples before.
i tried to savor the final hours of living alone before the roommate arrives later tonight. after i shower i biked to belmont. along the way i stopped by a real estate office to grab a map of cambridge/somerville, part of my "care package" for the new arrival.
this isn't superbowl weekend so nothing exciting was happening television-wise. my father bought another weather station (now he has 3), this one with a jumbo display that also has wireless indoor/outdoor humidity. my mother fixed me some clear korean noodles for lunch and then i played a bit of skyrim, clearing out some of the small side missions. the thing i learned today was being a member of the thieves guild allows me to bribe guards to release me from my bounty (for those times when i'm wanted for some crime). so far it's worked in riften, no sure if it works in other keeps.
when my sister came back after dark with the dog, she said she saw a coyote at beaver brook. it's unusual because there was a lot of people at the reservation.
i kept looking at the clock, counting down the number of hours before my roommate's arrival. after dinner i biked back to cambridge. unlike earlier, i wasn't the least bit sweaty when i got back. i spent the next hour waiting. ETA was 9:00, and at 9:30 i could hear somebody ringing my doorbell.
miss wang, my new roommate, was older than i expected, probably in her 30's. a young man drove her to my house from the airport, whom she identified as her student. when i asked if he went to MIT, i didn't quite understand his answer and didn't pursue it further. how she found my place was through a friend of a friend. miss wang is actually a visiting scholar at MIT in the field of urban planning. not only is this her visit time in cambridge/boston, but it's her first time in the US. she's been to europe a few times and spend a month in sweden working on her research.
she gave me a chinese tea cake as a gift (manufactured in menghai, i've been there!) and paid a month's worth of rent even though she might be moving out sooner than that (i told her i'd reimburse if she leaves early but she felt she'd end up staying at my place for the whole month). MIT doesn't provide housing for visiting scholars so they basically have to fend for themselves. it's one thing if you're american and speak the lingo and know how to look for an apartment, but it's quite another when you're from a foreign country. since she's going to be here for a year, she'll want a place closer to MIT (my place is 2.6 miles away driving/riding distance, not exactly walking distance). when i asked what kind of apartment (single or shared), she hinted at some place with options, since her child (!) and husband (!) might be visiting during the summer, and her parents (!) have also expressed some interests in seeing america. i don't know how much she's willing to spend, but a visiting scholar surely must get some kind of workable stipend (either from MIT or through her own institution back in china).
i gave her the tour of my place. she noticed right away in the kitchen that i don't have a hood over my range. i took her that's an optional feature in most american homes; she got the message and said she'd refrain from oily cooking. she kept remarking how different my house was from the ones she's used to back home in nanjing, where everyone lives in condo complexes. she was also very keen on visiting a supermarket as soon as possible to get some food supplies.
anyway, she seems to be a private person, and after we chatted, she made herself some tea and retreated to her room, where she was either video conferencing with somebody or watching a streaming chinese show.
some more things i learned from my new roommate:
miss wang thinks that rampant urban development in china will only continue for the next 5-10 years before it slows down. when i told her how old my house was (100+ years), she lamented that there are plenty of old homes in china as well, but they're quickly disappearing to make room for more modern dwellings. "you turn around and they're gone," she said.
one of the first things she asked before even settling down is whether or not i have wifi. she basically came here sight unseen. had she contacted me directly, i could've at the very least sent her some photos. but i guess she didn't have much options and based on the recommendation of her friend of a friend (who has seen my place before), she took it (it's only for a month anyway).
she lives in nanjing but her flight was out of shanghai, so her husband drove her to the airport. the distance between these two cities is only 168 miles, but she was leaving on the tail end of chinese new year, so the traffic was insane. it took them 4 hours to get to shanghai, and then another hour to get to the airport. her poor husband then had to drive back to nanjing. she told me she could've scheduled her departure for a later date, but she figured since her tour of duty is for a year, when she returns to china in 2013, she'll get back just in time for chinese new year again (next year new year is in february, crazy lunar calendar).
i told her about new england weather and how cold and snowy it can get. she didn't seem concerned, and said it snows in nanjing as well, and can get pretty cold because of how damp it is. unfortunately i don't this winter will be particularly impressive so she's not going to get the full blizzardy experience.
despite being somewhat of a private roommate, i was glad to see that she made good use of the bathroom space, leaving a few toiletries on the counter.