Hello Zhonghai!

Week 1

Tuesday: Arrived in Chengdu at around 7pm. I collected my bag and was met by one of the companies staff where they brought me to a University campus. I stayed here for 3 nights while they sorted out apartments for me.

Wednesday: I slept for most of the day. I think I was still jet-lagged and tired from the flight.

Thursday: I met another company staff where we looked at apartments. I saw 4 apartments in the same complex, although the complex is HUGE. The 3rd one was gorgeous and far nicer than the other 3 apartments, so I signed the contract and there it was! I also saw where I would be working. It is in a housing complex on the ground floor. Most of the campuses are located in this manner. It seems a relaxed place to work.

Friday: I left the ancient apartment in the University and travelled to Zhonghai, where I’ll be living in my apartment. This is north west of Chengdu. The area is a lot better than where I was situated in on my internship. There is a cinema, Starbucks, subway (although not very nice), a Walmart, a McDonalds, and other little places to eat. In Chengdu, Chinese people say that the North = crowded. South= expensive. East= poor. West= where the rich people live. So I’m living with wealthy people it seems. Its also more expensive than what I was used to in the poor oul West. But,  where I live, it is a short walk to the Subway station as well which is great. No more having to get a 25 minute bus journey to the subway.

Although in my contract it said I would be living with another person, it turns out that I’ll be living on my own. Although it is great in some regards, like having the place to yourself, only cleaning up after you, not having to put up with annoying housemates…it also has its downsides, where you sometimes get lonely.  I have just gotten the internet which is a godsend… now I actually have contact with people at home.

Saturday:  I arrived to my first day of ‘work’… LATE of course. First the Tuck Tuck got lost, then I ended up going to 2 different entrances to what I thought led to the campus. I ended up having to ring the senior teacher and asking him where it was. I eventually found it. These apartment complexes are huge! That afternoon I ended up having to do an ‘activity’ with children, like showing them a presentation and making lanterns from oranges.

Sunday: Sunday morning we all met at 8am to do some marketing for the company. Although we had to do this for 4 hours, we do get paid. So I got paid for doing… well talking to children. That aspect was great. The early morning.. not so much.

Week 2.

The second week I was mainly working. To make up for the lack of hours I got this week, I have been doing observations ( looking in on other teachers classes and writing down feedback) and demos ( where you would have to entertain a prospective child/adult who are interested in the course.) The idea of demos is that you do a successful job and make and client pay. Simple really. I get paid for these because they are technically part of teaching.You also get a bonus if the client signs up or if one of your clients pays for an extra year.

The campus itself is great… and I make myself say campus, instead of ‘work’. It just doesn’t seem like work. The staff, teachers, and the campus itself is so laid back, somewhere where you meet your friends until teaching time. You can use your phones, eat and chat away to people without fear of ‘not doing your job’, because your technically ‘not doing your job’ until you walk into that classroom. That’s when work starts.

Teaching this time round is going to be hugely different to my past experience of teaching. Although there are good and points about each type, at least they will give me experience in different types of teaching, and will look good on my CV.

I just hope the students don’t drive me mad altogether.

Aisling.

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Teaching Review and…I’M BACK!

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I’m Back! Its been a while, but after the disaster with my visa debit card ( another post) and only just getting the internet, my blogging has unfortunately been at a standstill…. Yet no more! I shall (hopefully if I’m not too terribly busy) be posting new blogs up here again. During my time with no internet, I’ve written 2 posts at once, so I’ll post them together. Enjoy!

Teaching Review

Since January, I have signed a contract to work with another company for 1 year. This means I’m actually a FULL TIME teacher, with an actual wage this time. From September 2013 to the beginning of January 2014, I was on a teaching internship for one semester.

I know reviews are especially good for people who are thinking of joining a company; one of the reasons why I applied for the job I now have is because I met a person who works there and he told me that It was a good place to work, so I know personal experience is important.

The company, i-to-i is a company that I found online. I knew one of my friends was doing a TEFL course online and was going to Japan to teach, so I researched and found this one. After completing the 120 hours online, I decided to apply for the Teach & Travel China Programme which was advertised on their website.

You can choose the China, Vietnam, Thailand or Poland internship. Each programme starts on 2 different semesters. Speaking about the China internship, programmes start in February (Winter Programme) and August (Summer Programme). I chose the August programme, where I was shipped out with about 150 people to Beijing. Most of the participants were English, but there were about 20 Australians, 14 Irish, 4 Canadians, 1 American in my group. There were many more that arrived 1 month earlier to do their 140 TEFL from a lot of European countries.

The first week was amazing, where we saw the Great Wall, Acrobatics Show, Saw the Beijing Olympic Stadium and ate Peking Duck in Beijing. We then travelled to Harbin for our orientation. It was great being with a big group of people where every day you would talk and hang around with different people in the group. Everyone was there for the same reason; to do something different.

After that we were sent to our teaching locations. Around 50 people went to Sichuan, where people were placed in Chengdu, and about 50 went to Guangzhou, where most people here were placed in Guangdong. The rest went to Beijing, Harbin, Inner Mongolia, and near Shanghai.

Of course you’re going to hear bad reviews about companies, I’ve even read about them myself, about Teach and Travel China and thought “did I make a mistake?”, but as I say, everyone’s experience is different. Some people might have had a bad school, living conditions, bad neighbourhood and so on. Luckily, I was very fortunate; I had a good apartment, the school was fine and nothing major happened. My location however wasn’t great, where I was 1 hour away from the city centre.

So here are the good things and bad things about doing the i-to-I and Teach & Travel China Internship.

Good
• People are in the same boat as your-self.
• You’ll most likely be placed with someone. This will be living together and in the same schools, living together but different schools, or living by yourself but being near other interns.
• You won’t go through it alone. There will be like 150 other people starting their teaching at the same time so you won’t be going through it by yourself.
• Apartment and school is guaranteed for you. There is no worrying about finding schools.
• Guaranteed a minimum of 2 hours Mandarin/Cantonese lessons.
• Everything is provided for you in the apartment; kettle, cups, quilts…
• Given an advisor at your school to help you throughout your internship.
• Don’t have to pay rent or bills. (that’s if you don’t go over your bill limit)
• Maximum of 15 teaching hours.

Bad
• Expensive. From applying for it, to getting your visa, the cost adds up.
• Might be placed with someone you don’t get on with… and your stuck with them for 4 months.
• Don’t know where in China you will be placed. This means it’s difficult to pack when you don’t know the climate you’re going to live in. You could also be placed in a really remote area.
• Don’t know what age group you’ll be teaching. If you pick 7-14 age for instance, you may not get it.
• Wages aren’t great. You can live off it, but you can’t go mad spending.

These are my own opinions about the good and bad points about the internship. There are plenty of people I’m sure would say “ NEVER DO IT, IT WAS THE WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE!”. I’m sure some people did have a terrible time on their internship, I’ve read about them. But on my own accounts and experience, if nothing majorly goes wrong with your internship, you’re blessed.

Because I’ve had a good experience of my internship, I would tell people to do it. It lets you have a taste of teaching but it also lets you live in a new country, even just for a few months.

The choice is up to you…

Aisling.

Should You TEFL?

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Where I’m from, not many people have done TEFL  (Teach English As A Foreign Language). So I was going into unchartered territory when I signed up to teach English. I had no prior experience teaching anything, let alone teaching a language, which made me a little apprehensive at the whole idea of (trying) to embed knowledge into student’s minds.

So if you’re thinking of teaching English, here is a list that I compiled of why you SHOULD TEFL.

Meet new people– I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some lovely people, from all over the world. You learn so much about them and what they want to do with their life.  From the people I have met, they decided to TEFL because they wanted to experience something different.  Like me, they didn’t have a clue what they wanted to do in life, so tefling is a great way to try new things and find out what you would like to do (and not do) in life.

Experience a new culture– When I arrived in China, I was shocked at how different it is from Western countries. You watch about far off countries on the TV, read about them in the books, but it’s not until you actually live there that you get to experience the culture. You learn so much about its history, food, people, customs and beliefs, it makes you more appreciative of the country, but also for your own country. I realise what I love about my country (lush green grass, open fields, castles) and how I took certain things, for example our education system, for granted.

Try new food– Although I’m not adventurous with food, with regards to chicken feet and creepy crawly foods, I did try horse and fish (which I still hate). When tefling, you will try so many different types of food, many of which will be delicious. You will most certainly eat, whatever country you choose to live in, their most famous dish.  There will be food you don’t like, while you won’t be able to get enough of others.

Learn a new language– In today’s society, the ability to speak another language is becoming increasingly important when looking for jobs. It’s not until you live a non-english speaking country that you realise the importance of learning that countries language in order to, not only communicate with others, but it also makes it easier for yourself in daily life. Although my Mandarin is definitely not fluent, I plan on improving it.

You learn more about yourself– I have learned so much about myself since my time in China. I’ve realised that I CAN speak to a large group of people. I am more confident and independent that what I previously thought. I’ve also realised, that, at the moment, I just can’t see myself living in Ireland. Maybe in the future I will settle down here, but at present… no.

Live in a new country– simply, you get to LIVE IN A NEW COUNTRY. How exciting is that??!

Moving to a new country, leaving your family, and teaching English is a big step. But, if you’re unsure about what you want to do in life, want to experience a new country, or just want to push yourself and see what you’re capable of, then teaching English is the way to go. It is an experience you won’t forget!

Aisling.