So I’ve been here just over 2 months now, eating rice and noodles every day, breathing in its polluted air, and not being able to order anything on a menu without the aid of pictures. I’ve climbed the Great Wall, visited Harbin, went swimming in the world’s biggest building, and saw the Terracotta Warriors, to name but a few. These 2 months have been a roller-coaster… literally! I have learned so much about China, from its history and its language, to the people and their life-styles; it’s been fascinating learning about such a unique country. I implore, go and visit China. It’s one of those countries where you will go ‘wow’; in a good and bad way. The Chinese people themselves are something you will be amazed by. Their generosity, kindness and gentle nature sets them apart. Bad though, in that their (only what you would see in horror films) toilets will leave you horrified and thinking we have walked back into the stone-age. The wafting scent of the toilets will hit you before you’ll actually see them, and the bins that greet you when you go to the ‘WC’ are really terrible.
There are good points though, in that the Chinese have some great food. As I’m living in Sichuan, everything is hot and spicy which I LOVE. Their speciality dish is Hot Pot, where you can choose what food you can boil in a simmering metal pot. This is very common in Chengdu and I personally love it. The bad side is when more unusual things crop up, from chicken feet (they love this) rabbit heads to Yak blood.
Although I’ve been here for a little while, I still miss home! I have to remind myself that I’m in the real world now; with a full day of work and my weekends off. We try and do something productive with our weekends off because they are like gold-dust, they magically appear, and then disappear; facing another week of lesson planning and early mornings. The previous weekend, myself and Charlotte decided to hit Chengdu city for some ‘window shopping’ and just to get out and about. We got a bus to the subway station called ‘Chengdu Institute of Public Administration’ where we took half an hour to reach Chanxi road, the main shopping area of the city. Although we are 1 hour out of the city altogether, it’s not too bad, it could be a lot worse! The subway is great, really clean, efficient and easy to use; we would be lost without it. We spent the day shopping, went all Chinese and got a Pizza Hut, then headed home at about 8pm.
On Friday night, we ventured to Longquanyi town, 10 minutes by taxi from our college. Again, we went all Chinese, and went to a French restaurant! We’re not lazy! Firstly, it’s so hard to actually order something to Chinese, we don’t have a notion what the food actually is, or whether it would be nice, and so we went safe and went to a fancy French restaurant instead. We really need to learn more Chinese. . . It was good to actually get out of the college for once!
This weekend gone, we decided to go mad altogether, and went OUT… yes we actually went out for once! We met a couple of friends from the course in Chengdu city, checked into our hotel, and headed out for the night! The last time I was out was when we first arrived in Chengdu. It was a good night! “Will I need my umbrella?…Nah it will be grand sure” how wrong was I.. It bucketed down the next day, so we all ended up soaked to the bones. That’ll teach me.
So this week is back to teaching, and lesson planning. Although I don’t mind, it does come rather monotonous. Wake up, teach, office, bed. Wake up, teach, office, bed. I enjoy talking to the students though, just general conversations about China. I love learning about China because it’s so different to home. I love learning about the people, their customs, and the language. I try and talk to them about Ireland and the comparisons between the two countries. I’ve dabbled a little about Chinese politics and history, mainly about Taiwan and Japan, so I’m intrigued to find out what the students think about this. From my questions, they think Taiwan is DEFINITLY part of China, and that the majority of Chinese people don’t like Japanese people. I’ve also discussed the relationship and rather turbulent history between Ireland and England, so I think they understand more about the differences there and how it relates to China and Japan. Interesting stuff!
I’ve also set up a QQ account. Honestly I’m being plagued with students. ‘Are you on QQ?’…’Will you accept me on QQ?’ ’I wrote to you but no response’… ‘Did you read my message on QQ? I don’t mind talking to them at all, its’ just that once I’m on, that’s it, they will all be messaging me ‘HELLO TEACHER, HOW ARE YOU?’ That’s not what you want when your lesson planning. So when I’m free I go on it and message them. I still have no idea how it works anyway but it’s somewhat like MSN Messenger, Skype, Hotmail and Facebook rolled into one. You can send emails, chat and even video on it.
So tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday are my busy days. I have 8, 45 minute lessons. 8!! I’m counting down the days when I never have to do them again…. Only 12 more Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s to go!