We've been here 2.5 weeks. Just three days after our arrival, we moved into our apartment on campus. There are many advantages: close to work, inexpensive, nice community of families with kids, etc. So it's not the impressive expat house one might imagine, but that in itself makes it feel like a humble option. To compensate, we promised ourselves that we'd do the best we could with what we had.
What we have isn't all bad. Three bed, two bath, around 1600 square feet. The kitchen is quite big, though empty. We've invested thousands of dollars in new electronics, including a fridge/freezer, a stand-alone stove, washer, dryer and a host of smaller items. To make our kitchen feel somewhat more like a working kitchen, we invested in several Ikea stand-alone counter tops with wire racks. I can't wait for my pots and pans to arrive to occupy the space and make it look lived in. The rest of the place has yucky green and brown furniture. Again, this will go as soon as our things arrive. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Monday. The boat was delayed.
There are some oddities. We don't have hot water in the kitchen or plugs in the bathroom. None of the sinks have cupboards underneath, so there is nowhere to stow toilet paper. Both kitchen and bathrooms are tiled floor to ceiling, so there is no option to put up shelves. The consequence is that half our toiletries fall off the counter every time we brush our teeth. And of course, the decor isn't to our taste, but at least the rest of the rooms have white walls and off-white floor tiles, which we can work with.
We've adopted the whole of campus as our backyard. There are playgrounds next to every apartment and the one opposite our building seems to be the choice spot for toddlers and young children. By now, he's made his way down the big slide, which he vehemently refused on the first day.
The university sports centre is right next door, with an Olympic sized swimming pool. There are also diving platforms. And a toddler wading pool where the boy and I spend most of our afternoons. He loves it; a real water baby - no surprises there.
Campus also has lots of buses much to the boy's delight. "Bah. Bah!" is a constant in our lives. Along with appropriate finger pointing to a passing bus. When there are several, it's almost too much to bear. The shuttle buses are free, so we often hop on one for entertainment and head over to the opposite side of campus where Starbucks lives. A super-exciting event.
I've bought myself a bike to get to and from work. The buses might be delightful to a (nearly) 2-year old, but to a working woman, they're irritating because they don't pass often enough and the stops are just that little bit too far away from home. With my bike, I'm at work in under 10 minutes - a vast improvement over the nearly 45 minutes it took me one morning to make it to the office. Plus, it seems to agree with my waistline.
There are surprises too. A gecko leaped out of my dishcloth one morning. I leaped in response. Today, one was hiding in the waste basket. I didn't jump this time, but it still catches me out. The national air force ensures that we wake up at appropriate times and stay alert all day. I'm not sure if this happens to be an intense training period for fighter jets or if they simply enjoy flying close to Malaysian airspace.
The best thing is that we already know plenty of people. All very helpful and willing to lend us stuff. Toddler boy has a bunch of toys on loan, and had several play dates. It's good for his confidence and social life, and good for ours too.