As teaching begins to wrap up for this semester, I have been doing oral tests with my Elective students. In 90minutes, I only get about 20 students done, so it’s a slow job! I actually enjoy it though. It’s just you and the student and some of them really surprise me with their answers. I came up with 10 questions, one of them being ‘If you could, what would you change about China to make it better?’ Nearly all of them said the education system. They all say that it’s too difficult, too much emphasis is on written exams, there’s no creativity and they have no freedom to do anything. From what I hear, they are absolutely correct. Even in my classes, a lot of them struggle to come up with anything creative. Where as in Ireland, we would relish it. Too much emphasis is on exams, and then, when they don’t do well in their final, they feel ashamed; the final exam is one of the important things in their young lives. But I suppose, with the amount of people in China, there is a lot of competition for the best Universities.
Another question was ‘What would you change about yourself?’ Most of the students said that they are shy, and that they would like to be able to talk more to people. A lot of girls said they want to be slimmer, bigger eyes, and have a smaller nose. It’s interesting to learn what they all think.
In the past, it has always been me sitting opposite the examiner; nervous, clammy and dreading it. I never would have thought that I would be the examiner one day! It just shows what can happen in life. You think ‘I’ll never do that’ and then you realise one day that you actually are. It makes me realise what I can actually achieve.
I survived 1 semester teaching in China.3 years in the past, I would never have dreamed that I would be doing something like this; living in China by myself, teaching students literally only 2 years younger than me. It just goes to show how life changes, and it’s these things, both good and bad, that shape and mould you into a (hopefully good) person. People come and go from your life; seemingly important ones at a time, seem to just drift away, while new, exciting people enter your life. It’s this that changes who you are, and makes you a better person.
I’ve gone all philosophical now. I’m just reminiscing about the last few months. Without a shadow of a doubt, this experience has made me a better person. There were times when I thought, numerous in fact ‘I don’t think I will be able to live in China… it’s just too different’ While I wasn’t very happy at home with the lack of a job, I was in my own wee bubble, my comfort rut. Everything was the same, unchanging, mundane, but It was what I became used to, and it was very hard to leave it all behind! But I think it’s just a big push I needed. I thought one day, ‘right, I’m going to apply for this China thing’ and I just done it. I asked my Mum and Dad what do they think…and the same night I applied. I think that’s what a lot of people need to do. Just Do It. I’m so glad that I did.
I hope now that when I do go back home, I will be a changed person. I can’t wait to tell everyone about China, its good and bad points. From people spitting in the street, to the people who work in the tea shop literally running over to us and beaming, just so excited to see us. It’s these kinds of things that make China…CHINA. You just have to accept it the way it is, it’s not going to change.
I can’t wait to teach the family about China; its history, its people and their way of life. They will be amazed!