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Adventures of an Aussie English Teacher - Week One

Updated on March 9, 2010

Is it a horse?

The view from my apartment window.
The view from my apartment window.

The beginning of another adventure

Here I am back at Yuexiu again. Some friends have suggested that I try another school, another city perhaps, but I have too many friends here, and as I've said several times to those who query my decision "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know". I KNOW the folks at Yuexiu and I know for the most part how it all works. I know my way around. The idea of finding my way around a new city does not appeal - I'm happy to visit, but living makes it a bigger challenge. I know my apartment is on campus and that I don't have to travel to class.

There are people, places, things, that I am familiar with. Still, nothing is exactly the same after 12 months away, but I'm happy with my decision. There's no going back. I'm here. Ready for the next chapter of my adventures teaching in Asia.

One of the challenges here in China is blogging. They (the government) don't really like it. So my old blogsite is not accessible from here. I've created this one - as I think it is the easiest one that gets under the radar of the censorship department. We will wait and see.

I've not taken any photos - in fact have not got the camera out of its bag since we arrived, but I may just give it some air today. Slowly but surely I've been getting back into the swing of it all. I've fixed a few things in the apartment and am waiting on some others to be fixed by the school handyman during the week, but all up I'm pleased with everything.

I've dusted, scrubbed and cleaned. Still the dust settles (and I remember the ongoing war with dust from previous sojourns, but for the most part it is OK.

Classes start tomorrow and the peaceful quiet campus that was the scene when we arrived has changed as thousands of students and parents arrive. There are shrieks and yells and shouting and the tooting of horns, and the screeching of brakes on bicycles, and e-bikes.

I went out earlier to the supermarket. I had to get some shampoo and cooking oil and a few students rushed me. "Oh, you are back!" Now if only I could remember their names (minza) - how can I? One who clearly was excited to see me had to think of her English name. She was Sara when I was here in 2008, but now she goes by the name of Sophia. That's two Sophia's in two days whose numbers have been put into my phone!!!!

Another guy came up to me and I remembered his face. But his name? Has it changed? I'll know soon as he is going to visit me.

So here goes - another term as an English Teacher at Yuexiu.





Students return

When we arrived her on Wednesday, the campus was quiet.  Few students or teachers for that matter had arrived. Why they wanted me here by the 25th, I don't know, but I was pleased to have a few days to look around, take stock, set myself up etc.

Eventually we did get to have our orientation - each presented with a little book of information (including all the rules for us aliens!), a pen, a calender with term dates (all in Chinese!!), and I met my link teacher who was going to show me around the school.  We were in the school and she realised it was 11.30 am.  Lunch time.  Nothing interferes with lunch! 

So we went to the canteen for lunch, and after wards she went for a rest.  I think that is almost obligatory after lunch.  In any case I went back to my apartment and later with another teacher explored the high school to find out where my class rooms were.  We were also presented with our text books for class, and given one sheet of paper (to share???) which we will have to copy and present our curriculum for the dean.

I went out again after that and purchased my electric blanket.  The cold was very penetrating and I knew that I'd need some extra warmth.  Under two heavy doonas is not a lot of fun.  Feels like an elephant is on top!!!

Today the sun came out and it was a bit warmer, and I've had a couple of walks - mainly to supermarkets to get bits and pieces.  Good for a walk.

Today is Lantern Festival Day, and we were presented with gifts from the school - at least some of us were.   I think new/returning teachers received the gifts of a bottle of Shaoxing wine and some lovely tea cups and saucers.  (Will take a photo later)

We were also given bags of strange sweets that are traditional for Lantern Festival Day (sadly any instructions were all in Chinese, but it appears one drops them in boiling water, hoping that they will cook through and eating them.  They are made of some rice flour and some strange things inside.  I tried it - not sure I cooked them but they tasted OK.

I bought some dumplings at a street vendor and had those for lunch and tea as well. 

Tonight we are going to a park to see some performance for the Lantern Festival.


Some of the dumplings from the street vendor.
Some of the dumplings from the street vendor.
Students air their bedding on return to campus.  Bushes/hedges everywhere are covered with bedding.
Students air their bedding on return to campus. Bushes/hedges everywhere are covered with bedding.

Lantern Festival

Around mid afternoon we received an email from the FAD (Campus Foreign Affairs Department) about an event at Yishan Park which is close by, and one of the other teachers organised us to go as a group. We met up at 6.30 pm and walked the two kms to the park which was absolutely crowded.

Fireworks were being let off all around the city and the sky was a wonderful scene as amazing displays erupted everywhere.  The noise was deafening too. 

Since my last visit to Yishan Park a number of huge restaurants have been constructed and the place was a mass of lights in trees and lanterns.  We walked with the throng through to a part of the park where brilliant colourful lanterns in all shapes and sizes were on display.  There were lanterns floating in a lake, and from time to time we would come across a group lighting a paper lantern that would eventually rise up up and float away into the night sky.  Though some floated a little and disappointingly fell to earth.

The sky was scattered with these lanterns floating off into the distance. 

We walked and walked (which for me was a challenge as I had a huge bleeding blister on my foot!).  We took photos, chatted with locals in Chinese and English, visited an art exhibition, and wandered back.   My friends chose to walk back, but in all the chaos I found a taxi and make my way back to the college by 9.15 pm.

Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival Gifts

All teachers received gifts for the Lantern Festival.  There was a pack of rice cake balls.  I don't know the Chinese name for them.  We all received a big bag of them but no instructions in Chinese.  They were frozen - and enough to feed a whole class of students.  I found out later that one put them into very hot water for a long period and eventually they were edible. 

I did so and have managed to eat a few. Quite tasty really with some filling that looks like red bean paste.

(see the photo - and that was just some of the bag that was given to me._

The Gifts.

The rice balls.
The rice balls.

Teaching Day One

My first class was at 8 am in the high school, and my friend Vicki knocked on my door at 7.30 am and we walked to the school together.  It is on campus but around 1 1/2 kms from our apartment.  It was miserable.  Pouring with rain and cold. The water on the road seeped into my shoes and my feet were soon wet.

I had four classes - and the main purpose of each lesson was to get to know each other.  I asked them to guess which country I came from and one class "got it" first try, while others made all sorts of suggestions before reaching the right conclusion.

All good students - around 40 in each class, and most without text books.  (Later today I received a text that they would not have them for a couple of weeks.)  By the end of the fourth class my feet were sore - I will have to get used to standing/walking on stone floors and pavements!

I returned to my apartment stopping only to get a bottle of water and some fresh strawberries before heading to my apartment.  I cooked my lunch, and then installed the big bottle of water on my water machine - eventually.  As I was putting the heavy bottle in its place I dropped it, bruising my leg and drenching myself.  Byt the time I cleaned up the mess, and successfully installed the bottle, I was freezing, so I changed my we clothes, and crawled into bed and slept for the afternoon in the comfortable warmth of my bed - with the electric blanket on high!

When I awoke it was around 5 pm.  And I still had work to do!!


The water bottle!

Getting the rolls right.

Teachers are supposed to record the attendance of students, but IF you get the class roll, it will be in Chinese characters, so not a great deal of use to us unless we have mastered the amazing Chinese writing system. I have not.

So, the idea is to ask students to write their student number, their English name, their name in Pinyin, and their name in Chinese characters. The latter really is not for us - but it may help identify a student later. For a start they change their English names. Often. Which is very confusing.

And so today armed with some sheets with columns for the students to complete the appropriate detail, I asked them to fill them in. Then I will type them all out in an excel file so that I can easily keep records on attendance, homework, class behaviour,tests etc. Ugh.

And already I found an error. As I am inputting the data I discover I have two classes with the same number. It cannot be. How do I work it out? Mmm.

I think I'll just go and pour a glass of win and go to bed and sleep on it.

Population question

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The sewerage drama

I'd noticed a few days ago before the rains came that there was fluid leaking from the sewerage covers near the foreign teachers building. 

This morning - Tuesday - there was a lot of activity near my apartment.  Workmen - with just as many supervisors as there appeared workers arrived with huge blue tankers.  There was much shouting and laughing, and the caps were pulled off the sewerage pits and I can only guess that the contents were pumped into the tankers.

Getting the tankers into the area was a challenge - a very narrow roadway with a 90 degree corner, and there were several e-bikes nearby and their alarms went off.

I could see some of the activity from my kitchen window, and the smell wafted into my apartment so I didn't need to get closer!!!  Ugh!  Luckily I had some room deodorant spray.  Thank you to whoever left the can of Jade spring jasmine!!!

Comments

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    • Aussieteacher profile imageAUTHOR

      Di 

      8 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

    • huttriver0 profile image

      huttriver0 

      8 years ago from lower hutt

      Now how about the second week?

    • huttriver0 profile image

      huttriver0 

      8 years ago from lower hutt

      Slowly getting settled in again, Di?

      Regards,

      peter

    • NewHorizons profile image

      Joseph Attard 

      8 years ago from Gozo, Malta, EU.

      A great adventure. You're liking it, I can see. You're like a hero to them. I know about them adopting English names. I had a Sara too some time ago, renting my Apartment in Malta. Well good luck.

      REad about Gozo,Malta here: http://folkloreinterest.blogspot.com

    • Aussieteacher profile imageAUTHOR

      Di 

      8 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

      It is easy to be critical of the Chinese and all they do - but I can see things changing/improving at a great rate - but they will never have the same culture as we do in the west. And why should they. They have such an amazing culture that in many ways is far better than we have in the west. Different. Very different.

    • huttriver0 profile image

      huttriver0 

      8 years ago from lower hutt

      Same old same old. Its a bit concerning that the Chinese authorities have tightened up even more. Well its begun, Teach!

      Regards,

      peter

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