First couple of days working for 6 months
Trip Start Aug 03, 2010
173Trip End Ongoing
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So the following day (11/02/11) around 3 o'clock I head back the school and am told that, before I sign any contract, I need to do a 15 minute demo of my teaching. This had been badly communicated to me so far, as from their emails I gathered that I would be shown a typical demo class, but not actually do the demo itself :-S. The HR girl was ready for me to do it straight away, not fully understanding that I have never taught before, but luckily the guy who I had been speaking to, Mark, managed to get her to give me 30mins or so with him and another member of the teaching staff, Sean (from Romford of all places and supports West Ham too), to run through some basic techniques
The demo turned out to be a great ice breaker as it was not to little screaming Chinese kids, but to some of the other employees that worked there (a couple of executives too I think haha). They were pretending to be 6-8 year olds and partaking in the demo with me. I had to warm them up first with a couple of songs; "if you’re happy and you know it" (never thought I sing that twice in the last couple of months) and “head, shoulders, knees and toes” haha. I then ran through some basic colours using the techniques advised and played a game of hop or jump to each colour around the room… bit of a mess really, but everyone was laughing. They knew I had never done this so went easy on me I think!! The people here seemed really cool.
So after the embarrassing 15 minute demo, I sat down signed the contract and was told that a few people (Mark, Sean and Jason, who is only a part-timer) were going out after for some drinks and a bite to eat and that I was more than welcome to join.
We left the building which is right in the centre of JFB and took a very short walk to a restaurant that was more like a hole in the wall that had just so managed to extend on top of an adjacent building – it was weathered looking, dirty and awkward to move around. Hard to explain really, but it had good character and seemed popular with the locals. Jason ordered the food and a crate of local beer; Mark and I had quite a nice normal, rice dish thingy with some beef and vegetables, and Jason wanted some pig’s heart and pig’s tails for everyone else to nibble on too. Sean doesn’t eat Chinese food, at all it appears and he says lives on McDonald's, Pizza Hut and KFC. He is cool, but it seems he has been dropped here from Essex without adapting to the Chinese culture or way of life – maybe he’s doing it right haha. In fairness, he says he likes the Chongqing hotpot though.
The pig heart tasted ok, a little tough though and the tail, I only had one bit to try, was much to be desired – it was chewy, like I was eating pure fat and tasted of it too. Won’t be having that one again.
Anyway, with my new found work friends, I got wasted that night; every time I got near to finishing my beer and saying that I wanted to go because it was getting late and my first day of work the next day… Jason would ask me where I was from… 'Essex’… ‘then drink!!’ he would respond, passing me another beer haha
I really enjoyed the night, but not so much leaving the restaurant at 2.30am when a load of Triad looking people came in (nothing happened, they were friendly towards us, but it was a little bit like they owned the place) and then getting lost finding my hostel, stumbling past it 3 times pissed out of my face – they turned the lights out so it wasn’t obvious where it was.
The next day, Saturday (12/02/11), feeling pretty rough from the night before I make to the school (well, it’s more of a language training centre than a school) and just as I am coming out of the lift, I bump into Rebecca, the HR girl and Sean. Sean is going for his medical check and Rebecca asks if I would like to go too… not really after last night, but I have to have it done at some point for my work permit so I join them.
I spend the next 2 hours being prodded and poked around; blood tests, urine tests, liver checks, heart rate/condition checks and even a chest x-ray
It is lunch when we get back, Sean goes for a Pizza Hut and Rebecca says she’ll treat me to a local noodle dish. She buys me something called Suan La Fen (literally translated as ‘sour and hot mung bean noodles’) and it was by far the spiciest dish I have ever eaten… now I like spicy foods, but this was beyond belief. My mouth was on fire!! I couldn’t finish it; in fact I think I only had about a 3rd of it before I could no longer take it. The girls I work with felt sorry for me so they gave me some of their steamed rice to cool my mouth down. I must be making a right fool of myself so far; the 15 minute demo, massively hungover on my first day and now not being able to eat my lunch and I’m not even half way through my first day haha. They were cool though, they all seemed to be really friendly and welcoming.
The rest of the day was mainly spent in either training or watching other people teach.
After work, on my way back to my hostel, I get a call from Jason saying he and Mark have gone out again (despite Mark earlier saying he was also feeling terrible and just wanted to go home) to an Irish bar and that I was more than welcome to join them… I didn’t fancy another night like the last and then spending the following day feeling rough again, so declined even though I then about 4 jokingly abusive texts demanding I meet him haha. I had also promised the girls at the hostel I would join them and a few other hostel guests for dinner anyway. Within seconds of arriving back I was whisked off to an impromptu evening hike up a nearby peak to see the city; the weather was perfect for it and the views are supposed to be impressive.
The hike wasn’t too long, there were 9 of us altogether, me and a Japanese guy the only non Chinese peeps and we make it too the peak – the atmosphere was cool, everyone laughing messing around etc, but it was on the way back down and when we reach our hotpot restaurant that the Japanese guy and I felt a little on the outside… up until now, everyone talking English to each other etc, but this time, a girl called Angelina that works at the hostel was out and although she speaks English fine, kept talking Chinese and eventually had the group talking Chinese with her
It was also quite interesting watching one of the guy’s persona change – he had been staying at the hostel a few days now and I had been out with him a couple of times before with the others – always really polite and talkative in English, but with the change in language at this meal, kinda came a change in character. He became snappy, though not to me, red faced and even his stance when eating became more chinesey, it was like he forgot his ‘act’ and switched back to his normal manner. It was also probably not helped by the little bottle of Baijiu (rice wine) he drank to himself.
With the language, atmosphere and mood changing over dinner, I basically talked to the Japanese guy for the rest of the night until we got back the hostel and went to bed with everyone still talking Chinese to each other… I can only make out a few words in each sentence and trying to guess what they are talking about is not much fun
Off to work again the following day, Sunday (13/02/11), not much interesting happened during the day; more sitting in other people’s lessons, lunch with everyone and making notes etc… definitely believe I will enjoy it here, everyone seems great and willing to help me, both with teaching and learning Chinese, plus I was invited a to a dumpling party with everyone round one of the girl’s apartments the next day.
On my way back to my hostel after work, I bump into a couple of the hostel girls walking back up the hill in the opposite direction, they are going to the supermarket so I join them… normally stuff like this doesn’t make the blog, but on this occasion a guy in the supermarket asks one of the girls to translate for him as he wants to ask me something. I am a little confused, but not surprised cos stuff this happens from time to time; random people trying to spark up a conversation. The difference was this time, he spoke pretty much zero English and wanted to ask me if I would join him on a hike up a nearby mountain, an ‘activity’ he called it. Apparently if I joined him, it would be an enjoyment on my day off and a highlight of my stay in Chongqing… not so sure. If he even spoke a little English, I may consider it because I would be able to practice my Chinese with him. With a bit of pressure we exchanged numbers, but I have no intention of answering his call – how would we talk on the phone anyway???? I saved him in my phone as weird supermarket man haha.
Back at the hostel, after a two long days in the office (lol), I was pretty tired, so just chilled out a talked to randoms.