|Some purchased items to fill up my white, empty apartment in Macau.|
As I am working for the University of Macau, I was placed into housing as a language fellow (visiting instructor position). The cost of rent is extremely cheap for us because we are not hired directly by the University and are working for the English Language Center itself. For the 4 fellows our rent is only $104 per month to stay in off-campus housing through the university. During my 5th week here, 8 new senior instructors arrived to teach in the ELC and all were placed in temporary housing as well. Because of the move to the New University Campus in January, we are in a state of housing limbo.
After providing much help to my new co-workers on the move in process such as setting up gas, applying for internet, obtaining water, fixing wrong keys, broken air conditioners, securing couch covers for peeling couches, etc., the management of the ELC sent out an e-mail requesting that all teachers reply to the housing office with requests for improvement and suggestions on the moving process. Each new teacher replied to my first e-mail that was sent and added more information. Some of the information added included the teachers that were placed in the Best Western Hotel in Taipa with no Wi-fi access or kitchens. For a week or two this is ok, but the University is not paying for their Wi-fi access which comes at an unreasonable cost as well as the fact that those teachers must eat out every meal at additional costs for a period of 1-4 months since the move to new apartments on campus is uncertain.
Here are some of the items of complaint:
Here are a few:
1. White mold present in each rooms furniture. Mainly the desk, inside the desk drawers, under, all sides of the drawers insides, behind desk. Suggestion: Proper cleaning of all furniture prior to arrival.
2. Paint peeling from couches, you cannot even sit on the couches without being covered in black specks of paint. This is especially dangerous for the families with children whom often ingest the paint. Suggestion: new furniture or proper couch covers.
3. No gas upon arrival to cook or take hot showers. Suggestion: the school buys the first tank and removes the charge from our paycheck.
4. Basics upon arrival such as a roll of toilet paper, at least one cup, dish, bowl,one cooking pan, fork, spoon, and knife. Suggestion: In the past when I have moved abroad for teaching jobs there was a basic care package either sent the same day as arrival by delivery or provided in the apartment. All materials in this package were cheap and meant for basic needs upon arrival. We could leave only the initial items provided in the care box upon leaving so they could be used again, or dispose of them.
5. Proper pillows because mine was literally falling apart. The entire pillow was shredded into small pieces and then stuffed into a pillow case. Suggestion: new pillow upon arrival.
6. Check to make sure all keys work. My roommates key was the entirely wrong key and she was locked out. Suggestion: The school checks each key to make sure it functions correctly.
7. A second set of keys for guests. Many times we arrive with someone to help us with our adjustment and it is hard to get in and out of the apartment with only one set of keys. Suggestion: Each teacher be provided with 2 sets of keys.
8. Proper cleaning of apartment. I think all of us can agree that in the Western World we have different ideas about what is "move in clean." For example, I spent 2 days scrubbing and bleaching the black mold and grime between the bathroom and kitchen tiles. This is something that no one wants to do when they arrive to a new country. A brief cleaning is not acceptable. Suggestion: A thorough clean of the floors, walls, and furniture.
Although it seems as there are alot of complaints about the housing, this is due to the fact that the University is in a state of flux right now during the moving process. However, one teacher did reply to the e-mail noting that the University considers itself as one of the leading schools in Macau and in China and if they claim to do so they would probably have considered the moving process for it's international teachers with more care. There were obvious signs to all of the new teachers that the University took no care regarding their move to Macau. Especially when basic items such as air conditioners were not functioning or keys did not match the doors.
With all of the complaints noted, The off-campus apartments are of wonderful size and in a great location of Macau. It is extremely hard to find this much space anywhere in Macau and for such a great price from the University subsidizing most of the cost. However, most teachers do not want to share rooms and need more than just a peeling old couch when arriving with a family that has children. I am sure this is the last time that most teachers for the University will experience this kind of setting as the new campus will have plenty of housing for faculty. However, for faculty that does not receive on-campus housing from the beginning of their move, the University definitely needs to raise their quality of service for new arrivals. Much of the faculty from the ELC has taught in the Middle East which dominates in the relocation department. Some faculty report being handed thousands of dollars to buy new furniture and being provided with a private car upon arrival until they were more fully settled. Moving to a new country is a huge adjustment and providing professionals with a professional moving experience should not be understated. As of now, there are 3 of us living in this apartment. I am under the understanding that I would not be receiving on-campus housing and that I will be staying here for the year. My roommates are under the impression that this is temporary housing and that they will be moving in to the new apartments on campus once the construction is finished. Check back for a later post on a live video tour of my apartment in Macau.
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