My Medical Examination Experience

International Travel Health Centre

International Travel Health Centre

So finally, things are under way to get me to Hong Kong to get my work visa. Because I was so busy, I forgot I actually needed to go, until another teacher told me he was going to get his Medical Examination. That got me wondering about my visa, and WHEN exactly my current one expires. Getting worried, I looked at my visa and suddenly I realised; it expires on the 11th of May. So I got in contact with the company and both my-self and another teacher from my campus got our medical done yesterday.

From what I expected, It turned out completely different. The ‘Clinic’ was not a modern, clean, dis-infected relaxing area. No, it was a building with people queuing for this and that, the bathroom’s were grubby, there was NO, I repeat no soap to wash your hands, and it was generally just not what I expected.

I had to get like 8 tests, from a urine sample, eye test, ultrasound (I thought only pregnant ladies got these), x-ray, heart check, weight measurement, blood pressure and blood sample. Another bizarre one was a man sticking a rod up my nose and checking my ears. Done in 5 seconds, it still counted as a test.

First we had to give a urine sample. Beside the bathrooms were about 100 small cups in a big container, so you can pick your own. A self-service job. Then it was the dreaded blood test. It was just like a counter. There were 3 slots and you had to sit down in 1 of them, the lady in front would strap your upper arm, and would literally puncture your arm. Oh no, there was no small private room where the nurse would make you relaxed. It was literally in a hallway and everyone can see you getting it done. Once your done, bam, away you go and the person behind you is next.

I said it’s like a conveyor belt. Once one test is done, away you go looking for the next room. The nurses don’t talk to you, they do there business and usher you out of the room, where a line of other people would be waiting.
But, it was efficient. There was no dawdling around waiting for 20 minutes for each exam. It was in and out. When we were finished, we were each even given a carton of….. milk. Maybe it’s an award. “Well done Aisling for doing ALL those terrible tests we cruelly made you do, here’s some milk, you deserve it.”

The results should come back in a few days, so hopefully everything will be all clear. Our Chinese helper said 2 people had to go home because there was something wrong with their test results.

Oh and in my last post I mentioned we had our team building workshop. We went for Hot Pot and then to KTV. Because it was my birthday in April, they were celebrating everyone’s birthday which occurred in this month. Anyway, because two of the teachers weren’t there (and their birthday is in April) it was just me that night.

The Chinese staff bought a big cake for us April people, and because it was only me there…. The whole cake was for me! I was completely and utterly shocked! Everyone gathered around, lit the candles, and sang happy birthday to me. I had to blow the candles and they all clapped. It will be something I won’t forget. Just because I had no idea that that would happen, now I know what it must feel like for people on surprise birthday parties.

So because I was the Birthday girl (although my birthday was at the beginning of April) I cut the cake for everyone.

And I’m beginning to look forward to Hong Kong now. A fellow teacher is coming with me for his visa so at least I’ll have someone with me. I can see more of China and it’s a little break from teaching.


Chinese Children

In the classroom, I’ve picked up a few Chinese phrases that the children say quite a lot. One of these is shénme [shuh muh]. This is Chinese for ‘what’. One student in particular, if he doesn’t understand something I say, he says shénme to me. Another phrase I hear quite a lot is gĕi wŏ [gay woh] which means ‘give me’. This is usually said when one student has something the other student wants.

Also, I keep hearing is xià kè [sha kuh]. This means ‘class is over’, even though there could be another 45 minutes left. I have to disappointingly say ‘no… not yet!’

Another interesting thing I have noticed is, for example, is if they are colouring something and I ask what colour do they want. So many students LOVE the colour yellow! Half the time they pick this one… and I don’t like when they are using yellow, because when they start, they realise the colour is too bright and they can’t see the colour on the paper, meaning they end up taking another 2 minutes picking ANOTHER one out, usually a dark brown.

It’s also amazing to see how the 3-6 year olds love hugging you and being held. It’s quite a nice feeling, to know that you actually mean something to them (however small that may be). Two girls I teach live a few floors up from the campus, so sometimes when they are passing, they come and say ‘HI AISLING!’ and off they go again. One student offered me a biscuit and the other gave me a green, thin (almost like paper) thing, which smelled remarkably like fish.

And the parents have even passed the ‘utmost importance’ of drinking warm water down to their children. One student, she’s 6, brings in her flask with her warm water to class. There are flasks specifically designed for children, which Mickey Mouse and other cartoon cartoons on them. Sometimes during a 1 and a half hour class, I would ask them do they want some water. Sure enough they add cold AND hot water from the water dispenser. First of all, at home, we rarely have water dispensers. Anyway, if we did, I’m pretty sure not many people would drink the hot water.

They are obsessed with hot water. Chinese people think, if you are sick…. “you should drink hot water”. If you have a cold….”you should drink hot water”. If you have a headache…”oh… you should drink hot water”.
And during the winter I have heard, numerous times…”you should wear more clothes.” Now I’m not here wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I’m wearing proper clothes, like with a coat and scarf. But still I’m cold. Once I say “It’s cold today!”….. the reply is, “you should wear more clothes”. You just can’t win!

Also, I have noticed how many Chinese people cannot recognise Western sarcasm. One of the teachers was talking to a Chinese staff and she mentioned something about having to do something that will be boring and non-interesting. The teacher replied “oh that will be exciting”. I heard them talking and I knew straight away, by the tone of his voice, that he meant that in a sarcastic way and that he knows it will be boring. However the Chinese didn’t get it, and she said “oh no it won’t be exciting!”

We also have our teambuilding workshop, ie; going for hot pot together. I love hot pot, so we are going there after our classes have ended.

Oh and its getting hotter. In the mid 20’s now. I can just about bare this heat, imagine what I’ll be like when it hits the 30’s!


The Chinese and their sports.

The Chinese love their badminton and their table tennis. Once the sun is shining, you see adults and children playing badminton inside their apartment complex. Then at night, you hear the (now familiar) sound of table tennis/ ping pong being played.

One of the teachers bought a badminton and table tennis set, so I tried my hand at table tennis. I have never played it in my life, so I was prepared to be terrible. At first I wasn’t great, but then after a few practices I actually started to get better! So much so, two of the teachers (who are really good at it and play a lot) were shocked that I never played it before, and said I was good! Apparently I’m good at hitting the ball exactly at the corner of the table, and that I can switch from hitting the ball from one side of the table to the other.
Although I’m not great at serving, and I get a bit too carried away with the ball and hit it too hard, ending up sending it flying to the other end of the room. But…practice makes perfect.

I’ve also purchased a new bike! I thought it would be a good investment because I’m here for a year and I will get exercise too. Also, there is no need to wait for the bus that is unpredictable. I think the hardest thing about cycling on the roads here is first of all, the roads. Some are in really bad condition so I have to make sure I don’t hit any of the big holes.

Second, crossing the roads. It’s difficult because although the green light is on for me to cross, other cars coming from a different direction are also allowed to move, so I have to contend with that also.
Third, people stepping/ cars and tuck tucks driving out in front you. I know it’s like this all over the world, but Chinese laws are quite relaxed with rules of the road, so I have to be extra careful.

Other than that, it has been a non exciting week. On a bad note, our campus has been split into two different campuses. Our old one was split into two and they were just down the hall from one another. (When the main campus was full, we had our class in the adjacent smaller campus). But our lovely landlord decided to sell the main campus to another person, and he kicked us out.

So that means we had to look for a new one, while keeping the smaller one. The smaller one doesn’t even have a sitting room for the parents, so they have to sit outside the classrooms. Not ideal at all.

The new campus is a lot bigger, with a big foyer for the parents with a big sofa, and 6 classrooms.
So myself and two other teachers are mainly based in the small campus, while another 2 are situated in the new one. The rest are split between the two.

I’m not really happy about it but we have to stay in the small one until November, then we can see what we can do.


This actually happened me.

Since coming to China, I’ve been more aware of my accent. Many Chinese people want either the typical posh English accent that the Queen has, or the American accent. So my Irish one doesn’t fit either of them.
For instance, I was teaching two of my students ‘Is this a chicken?’ ‘No, it isn’t. It’s a duck’. So I went to tell the parents what I was teaching them. Although they were speaking Chinese to the translator, I heard her say ‘dock’. This is how the Chinese say ‘duck’. So basically, because I was from Ireland, she presumed I was saying it wrong, whereas the correct pronunciation (to her) was ‘dock’.
So with this idea of my pronunciation being wrong, I decided to ask the different teachers how they would say it. Sure enough, they all said ‘duck’ the same as me.
Another example was when I was teaching them ‘in the bin’. It was the same parents again, and as soon as I showed them what I was teaching, they interrogated the children. But the parents kept saying to them ‘een the been’, overemphasising the (non-existent) ‘e’ sound… and totally ruining my hard work with the students.
Another example was when I said the word ‘umbrella’. I pronounce this as it’s spelt. A Chinese worker was observing one of my adult classes and he noted that I said the ‘um’ differently to him. He says it as ‘ombrella’ like most other Chinese people. The worst part was, he made me feel as if I was WRONG, that (even though I’m a native English speaker) I MUST have been saying it wrong, and that ‘ombrella’ is 100% correct. But rant over, just a warning to other English teachers, people might say something about your accent and how you pronounce things.
Also in the campus, I’ve noticed that a lot of things I say, they mean different things to the other teachers. For instance, for me, If I was really tired, I would say “I was knackered yesterday”. However I found out that to people from England, they would interpret this as “ I was drunk/pissed yesterday”.
There are a few more differentiations which I can’t remember, but will post when I do. Although my Canadian co-worker says he loves my accent, which makes me even more aware of it!
Also, I’m 24 today. My first birthday away from home… and just like last Christmas, it just feels like a normal day.
Oh and no presents….