Saturday, February 22, 2014

2 years worth of crap pt.1

So, like I said before, this is catching up with what was missed while I was in China and they blocked any website with the word BLOG in it. So, no surprise there that updating my "Blogger" account wasn't going happen while I was in China. For those of you who don't know, I LIVED IN CHINA for 16 months. It was great. I worked for Disney English and had a blast teaching kids (who would have thunk it?) But here are some of the emails I sent out while I was in China to keep people updated without my blog. Some of the transitions may be a bit choppy as I did some editing but overall I am leaving the emails unedited.

Email 1:

Searching for a place to live also took up a decent amount of time. Trying to figure out Chinese renter's policy and laws as well as the real estate market. But I found a place and will be living with 2 other “Foreign Trainers” from Disney English. The 3 of us found a beautiful 3 bedroom apartment that is fully furnished and is super super nice. I am not allowed to have nice things so hopefully we won't mess anything up. Since I am one of 2 males in this “onboarding group” I am living with 2 women. We all work at different language centers so it should be okay. The area we will be living in is called “Taiyanggong” and it is a really nice area. We have lots of little restaurants nearby and it is very close (about a 10 minute walk) to a main subway line.

Work is work. So far we haven't much face time with real kids so that has been different than what I expected. We do a lot of observing and mock classes for other trainers and get critiqued. Also, I found out that I will be working near the Olympic Stadium area so I get to see a lot of that stuff on my way to work. But, that area is just a “home base” not where I will actually work. Actually, they are not sure where I will end up working. I am what they call a “floater” someone who is extra and fills in where is needed. There will be more permanent places opening up in the next couple of months, but many people are going on vacation and flu season is coming up soon so there will be a lot of people who need their classes taught while they are out. For example, we have a national vacation next week for the Moon Festival, after that I will teaching 9 classes in 3 days to cover for someone while they are on vacation. But after those three days I have no idea where I will be working or for how long. This makes my living close to a main subway line very important because getting around the city will be much easier.

Other than work and apartment hunting I haven't done much. I did some looking around for stuff that I will need when I move into the apartment (bedding, some kitchen supplies, etc). I did get some free time to go to the Forbidden City and a park near there. It was beautiful and a lot bigger than I expected. It is, in fact, and self contained city. Several times bigger than Trigrad, the village I lived in while I was in Bulgaria. It is massive. You will have to look online to see the actual size but it was huge. And we didn't even get a chance to explore much of it because we were only allowed into the open courtyards. Other than that I have been trying my best to learn Chinese and most of the Local Trainers, the trainers from China, are very happy to help. I try my best to eat lunch where they eat because they know the cheaper, and usually better places to eat.

Email 2:

Things here have been settling down. I am moved into the apartment and I started work last Saturday.

The classes went well. But they were all long and exhausting days. My days off are Wednesday and Thursday. I wasn't supposed to have my own classes until December but due to unexpected circumstances I have two brand new classes. The kids are very young, between 3 and 4 years old. Last Tuesday was their first class...ever and there were lots of tears and, well, anarchy. I really have to get better classroom management skills. I am still learning and since they have never been in a classroom setting they aren't used to sitting and behaving. Plus the anxiety of not being near a parent or guardian is overwhelming for them. Some of these kids cried for a full 90 minute class. 90 minutes of nothing but crying. I had several Chinese staff members in there trying to calm her down and nothing worked. After 25 minutes we let her cry in the corner. When she would stop we would ask her to sit with us and she would start crying. Sometimes making eye contact would induce more tears. Also, another girl cried so much that she fell asleep, or at least pretended to be asleep, for the whole class. And that was the short class, 45 minutes. It was quite an experience. Everyone says that in 3 weeks they should stop crying constantly and start behaving/learning. YAY! This is going to be a long 3 weeks. Other than those 2 classes I am supposed shadow and team teach with two other trainers with much more experience than me. Hopefully I will pick up a few more tricks from them. The parents are great. I have only had one question about me being foreign but looking Chinese. But when they approach me and speak Chinese and I just smile and ask someone to translate they know I am not from China.

Other than that I have just been getting used to living here. My room is put together and my kitchen is stocked with yummy, fresh veggies and other foods. I do love cooking here, though I wish I had an oven. I don't have to search for ingredients for Asian food. I know, shocking, right? But I cannot find wonton wrappers. So I guess I have to learn how to make them myself...again. But I should be learning how to cook some new food from my co-workers. Most are surprised that I can cook and that I bring my own food. This is mainly because I don't want to eat mall food constantly and there is nothing near my work outside of the mall. I work near the Olympic Stadium. Which is very pretty but has lots of green space so not a lot of businesses are nearby.

Overall I am adjusting to China. I apparently look Chinese and therefore blend in, according to my coworkers. Whenever I am standing waiting for them somewhere they walk right on by me. But that also means I don't get stared at, or have my picture taken. Well, some people stared, but mainly because I have piercings in my face, and that is mainly by the older generation. But they do expect me to speak Chinese, particularly when I am with my colleagues they expect me to be a translator. All in all, life here is nice. It is just city life, lots going on, lots of people, and lots of noise.

Okay, if you made it through that SUPER! I will try to do 2 email at a time but I will not upload as many photos as I sent. Thanks for reading!

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