Ratty, I grew up shooting B&W film at a time when color was too expensive (for me or my friends). (I don't want to be specific about time frames, but it was way before the C-41 process.) Shortly after C-41, 6-hour mini-labs came out, soon followed by 1-hour. When these 1-hour places starting doing half-price processing, color suddenly became very affordable. As I recall, those prices, in ~1985 dollars, were about the same as you are paying in 2012 dollars. Anyway, to me, these prices are still a pretty good deal.

I would ask, "What do you have more of, time or money?" If the answer is time, my own tendency would be to set up to print B&W, and leave the color work for digital. (I don't suggest to process and print your own color, because the learning curve is higher, and chemicals are more elaborate (harder to get). Alternatively, if you DON'T want to learn to process, perhaps you can use some of that spare time doing photo work on the side for $$, using that to subsidize your own photo hobby. I don't know if you can write, or where you are originally from, but perhaps your home-town newspaper would be interested in periodic human-interest photo-stories from you, contrasting your life in Shanghai to your hometown?