. :-) Plus the food in the cantines isn't that bad.
It's pretty humid and hot here but there are a few typhoons which have hit. They are not serious even though the Pacific version of the hurricane sounds bad. There is wind for a few days with some rain but nothing outrageous. I went running on the beautiful mountains behind campus one day. People look at me like I'm crazy going out in the rain, esp. to run. Everyone has umbrella in hand in China at all times. In Seattle if it doesn't rain hard(that of which it never usually does aka small drops), no umbrella needed for the locals. Here; rain or shine(the hot sun) people don't leave home without them. I understand shielding yourself from the sun though because you just melt if you don't. So I ran behind campus in the mountains a bit, not too high though. It was fine in the rain but overheating the second time when I went with no rain. I have to be careful because the heat is just too much. I haven't been able to run on a consistent basis with all of the chaos around coming here and settling in here so it's so nice when I can put on the phones and just crank out a run. Keeps me sane.
Some students were assigned to help me out and they have been a great help since I cannot speak Cantonese or Mandarin
. I've had to do a lot of errands with haste because of the administration at the school and China in general. So I thank the students for their willingness. There has been a lot of bad organizing I feel. But I think it's because the responsibility for foreign teachers fell the foreign language dept. and they don't have anyone who has time to take care of us. Every thing has been so last minute. Anyways, I purchased some speakers with a woofer with the students downtown. And I let them do the bargaining saying they'll bring me back for all my purchases so I ended up getting a pretty good deal for them and a web cam.
I've met all the foreign teachers(which are few this semester, only 7-five English and two Japanese) and they've given me alot of advice on teaching. I started my first classes. I had 3 movie classes in the beginning. I was so freakin' nervous and I think it showed in my first class. I then put together a slide show on a pc of sorts with pics from back home and was able to take the focus off of me and tell about the pics. It worked much better for me. Then I had them introduce themselves in the second half of my class. I'm learning the ropes as a teacher and let's just say I am definitely still in the learning phase. Sometimes I feel so lost up there and other times I get good feedback from the students so I feel great after a class. Anyways, these first classes aren't so bad
. I merely show movies to seniors. I talk about them a bit and show them. Yet the technical difficulties with the computer and dvd equipment have been many!!! Sometimes I don't know if we'll be able to even watch. Then we've had to switch rooms, ugh. The movies are education related since my students are in education sector of English. They movies were picked by another teacher who had a standing cirriculum already so that was helpful. I didn't have anything or know what I could show so it was good to go off of her movies she loaned me. I want to show some of my own movies for fun later and I think I'll do it. I just have to create some worksheets. Like some American culture, 80's stuff like Ferris Beuler's Day off or something like that. They get a certain amount of American movies but others do not make the jump. Every kid seems to know the same movies from America. Like the US, the vampire diaries series and movies are really popular right now. And some of the Hollywood action flicks of course. And American Pie seems to be a popular one with the boys, haha. Of course. But most of my students are female. I only have one to two boys in each of those classes. The kids overall are very nice and respectful. But they text in class and I caught a girl talking on her phone during class. Had to stop that quick. You have to make rules so they know and then it's fine. I'm just not used to being a disciplinarian. They will try to take the easy way out though, that's what the other teachers tell me
. Plagiarism is rampant among the younger students. I just gave my first homework out some we'll see about these seniors. Copying is just not looked at the same in China. Years ago when my p's taught, the idea was more to be the same than different in China so I can see why. Some don't understand why copying is not right. Education and the kids are slowly changing though and individualism is being touted more although not to the extent that you see in western cultures. China wants it's students to be on the forefront of ideas but it also holds them back and wants them to conform in many ways. It's this rough push/pull thing that makes China I feel the most exciting place to be right now. And especially since they're growing so fast. And years ago, bribing was pretty rampant but they've seemed to nip that since I've arrived.
The freshmen are out there every day right now in their military garb for their two week training in discipline. They learn marches, exercises, songs. They will perform some things at the end. Some older students tell me it's serious though when I walk by they all smile and waive out leaving them out of formation. Even the section leaders do this.
Sports.....I've played table tennis a few times, they're all good at ping pong, I swear
! I guess it's like the national game so I should've known. I've played some b-ball with the teachers. I played against the president of the school. That was interesting. He is pretty good. I had to guard him and everyone was playing soft in the game. You could tell the vibe was different. But I played hard and blocked a few of his shots. I don't know if I did the right thing for my future, haha. And the Chinese students, there are actually some really good ball players. I played hard but they were just better. I could hang if I had been playing but it's been so long. The Phys Ed kids are really good and I tried to explain my poorness to them on the court and how I haven't played in so long, haha. But they didn't speak a lick of English. Oh well. I'll have to get better. I was invited to play on our dept. team which starts soon. Apparently the language dept. loses every year and never even wins a game so they were excited to have me play, haha. Hopefully I don't let them down. Anyways, there is a lot of inner goings on with the students that the Scottish teach has alluded about to me. Just some sad stories and who to watch out for, etc. A lot of the students he says just don't have much money and will try to use their relationship to you and to anyone else to get ahead. So he says to be careful about befriending so many students. I feel like I have a good understanding of the boundaries so I think it'll be okay. But I can see what he's talking about. There are a lot of really cool students too who are genuine so I'll just be aware
. And I've created a QQ account which is like China's Facebook so I can interact with my students without having to give my phone number out too much. I asked students why you can't use FB here in China. They said it's because Tibetans were using it to spread false ideas about China.....interesting. (Oh, and this is what the ping pong pic was about: Jackie was playing well against Damon and I saying "would you like to take-a down my Status! You would
like to but you cannot take-a down my status!" I tried to take down his
status, but I could not. After a while I wanted to take-a off his
So, every student thinks I'm the same age as them (22 or so) or even younger! They all think I'm a student as well as most other Chinese people I meet. I DO look young (and truthfully I'm still not that old either-32-,ha) but not THAT young, wow. But it's okay, I'll try to use my youthful appearance and youthful ways to my advantage. I decided early on to not try to be the authoritative voice. I would just try take the "I'm like you" angle. Maybe like an older brother. So I've had a few beers with some of the students. Some students like to drink but unlike the U.S. it doesn't seem to be a right of passage
. And most only drink beer. I had a taste of the some sort of hard grain liquor yesterday but not many drink this. Most students don't drink that much and are light weights if they do. Pabst Blue Ribbon has really made it's way in China. It's pretty much the only American beer here. They ask me if I like it, I say it's okay knowing that's it's pretty much the "cheap" beer in the States. Tsing Tao which most of you know isn't too bad, I like it here. There is Pearl and another Beijing beer but I don't like those. I don't think most people know that there are other beers besides pilsner. I've seen Budweiser every now and then. Anyways, I was out one night just looking around and ran into a guy in a small triangle section of another shop. He said come in and I ended up having a few with him and his girlfriend. He rents this really small space as a "sex" shop. I say it in quotes because it's really just condoms. He's a funny guy. His English name is Nature....perfect! He speaks just enough English so we can share some ideas. He says China is repressed so he's just trying to spread the idea of safe sex to everyone. I have seen some public service announcements on TV to promote safe sex so China is getting with the idea. Churches have made inroads in some areas of China about abstinence. China is a mostly religion free though because of the cultural revolution and just because it never really was big on religion but it's allowing more in to it's country. There is a Christian and Catholic church downtown and a Muslim cantine on campus where they serve no beef
. Anyways, the government(and it's people for the most part) are conservative so they liked the idea of abstinence but had to back off of it being state funded because they don't like religion creeping into it's borders too much. Back to the shop. We chatted a while and I went back the other day to hang out with his crew. He has a break dancing crew on campus. He showed me some moves. He's actually pretty good. I ate some really hot chicken feet, yuck, and about singed my mouth with peppers. Then he showed me some possible decoration ideas after playing some pool. The motto of his store is "It is good to care your lover". I said that's a good message but pointed out that there should be a "for" in there somewhere. He laughed and was like "what? really?" But I told him not to worry, I see English mistakes in signs and t-shirts everywhere and that no one would know the difference anyways. And its true, just like that Chinglish site that makes fun of English errors in China, they are everywhere! And some are hilarious. But for some reason, stuff that would stop me in my tracks in the states doesn't phase me at all anymore here(unless it's super funny). It's amazing how fast you get used to things. Maybe it's because this is my fourth time here.
Just starting this blog as an easier way to give updates. A friend of my p's is teaching not too far away and uses this. It seems to be a good way to share with everyone. I'm going to add a few more entries to my Hong Kong trip and something about mid autumn festival and then call it a day.
So, I've settled in a bit. Even though the furniture is hard and 5 things in my apartment have broken already. The fridge had to be replaced. The TV blew and so the colors are all wonky now. And pillows! Where are the pillows and cushions!? I have a nice bench but it's wood and the chairs in my place are small and basically paper thin in the seat cushion area. Bonnie was able to help me find a few pillows but every where I go my butt seems to fall asleep. No mercy on the backside, really, for reals China! There's an Ikea in Guangzhou. I'll have to hit that up soon. And I merely sat on the end of my bed, not even barely hard, and the dinky metal frame bent in and down. I can still use it but replace, replace, replace. It's hard when you don't speak Mandarin or Cantonese but I'm dealing with it. And the food, I pretty much eat at the cantines(cafeterias) because there is no produce or meats nearby unless you go to the farmer's market early in morning which I haven't seemed to make it for yet