Summer Time

My timetable is now beginning to change because of the summer holidays. I have some students that are taking up more classes, while for another teacher, a lot of her students will not be here for the summer, meaning she has to try and get more students for the summer to make up her hours. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened me yet. I have unfortunately got one student who is going to come 4 times a week instead of the usual 2. Now, she’s not a bad student, she’s just extremely lazy, meaning it’s hard to get her to learn anything.

In my campus, I have now become known to the Chinese CC’s (people who organise demos for potential students) as ‘the girl who can do the baby demos’. By baby, I mean 3-4 years old, because to me they are still babies. Apparently I’m quite good at doing demos for young children, meaning quite a few of parents sign their children up. I have a 3 year old nephew and I used to play with him a lot at home, so I think that may have rubbed off. I just play with them and have a laugh with them. Of course I try and gage what level of English they have; with colours, numbers, simple vocab, whether they can say sentences and the like.

At the moment I have a 3 year old boy who I share with another teacher. We got a new game called ‘Falling Monkeys’, so I decided to play this game with him. When I told the other teacher this, he said to me “I was afraid to play it with him in case he would throw it around the place.” But to me, I just thought: he’ll like this game, I think I’ll play it with him. I imagined my nephew would enjoy it so that was my idea on it. Although he did throw it about, he did learn vocab and simple sentences from it.

I am also contemplating going home for a few weeks. Although I have to settle this with my senior teacher, I’m sure it would be ok. In August, it will be 6 months that I’ve been here, so half way through my contract. It would be good to break up the monotony of work.

I’m also thinking what I should do after my contract ends. My main reason is to learn the language. For my ideal job, a second language is a must. Whether the job is in Ireland or abroad, I know that learning Mandarin is important. Just some things are nagging me.

1. Loneliness. I’m becoming increasing lonely. Because my weekends are during the week, it’s very hard to meet people.

2. Monotony. I wake up, go to work, go home. I know people work, but it’s just become monotonous now.

3. Timetable. The worst thing about this company is my timetable. I work 9am-7:30pm Monday and Friday. Saturday I’m in work 9am-9pm. So I spend more hours in work than I do at home. That means I can’t do anything during the evenings.

4. Parents are more important. If the parent wants class at 9am, you teach them at 9am, even if you have no classes until 6pm. That means getting up for one class in the morning and waiting around all day until your next one. My Mondays and Fridays are this way. On a Sunday, I have class from 9am -4pm. My final class is at 6pm.Meaning I have to wait 2 hours just to teach a 45 minute class.

5. Cancellations. Sometimes the parents forget to call up and cancel the class, meaning you show up and they don’t come. This happened me a few times. What’s more, we don’t get paid for this.

Of course there are good things about the job. The people I work with are extremely nice, we are like a big family. The company is good, they provide trainings, give bonuses and they do try and help the teachers a lot. For example, a lady from the head office came to our campus and talked to each of us about any problems we are having and how the company could help, which is nice. The pay is relatively good, (for Chinese standards) meaning I don’t have to worry about money. Although where I live, this is where all the rich people are, meaning what I earn isn’t a lot to the student’s parents.

I’ve also decided to do the HSK level 1 exam. This is the Chinese language exam for foreigners. I need a goal to set my mind to. One day I could be on Level 6.

Aisling.

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My Impression of Hong Kong

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been back from Hong Kong. Here is a list of things that I liked and some of which I didn’t like about Hong Kong.

Liked:

People speak English: It was so refreshing to walk into a restaurant and have the waiter come over and speak to us in English. It made everything so much easier. Also, most billboards/shop signs/directions are in big bold English letters which makes life easier.

Food: The food was more varied than in Chengdu. We even went to an Irish bar and got really nice food. There were Indians/ Thai/ Vietnamese restaurants all over Hong Kong, so it was nice to try some different food and not having to stick with spicy food all the time.

People: Unlike Chengdu, Hong Kong people don’t conform to the typical ‘dress-code’ like Chengdu people do. They wear their own things. It was nice to see girls with short hair, men with long hair, girls not wearing skirts up to their bum. In Chengdu, the girls MUST wear really short skirts. They must not have their hair cut really short. Men shouldn’t wear long hair. Hong Kong people are more individual, and they want to look different, whereas Chinese people (in my opinion) feel they need to conform to a typical ‘look’ or else they will be deemed different to other people. God forbid you would want to be different.

I nearly got caught up in wanting to look like the Chinese girls, with their lovely dresses and their shoes and their pretty bags. After my trip however, I’ve now shaken that away. Why would I want to look like millions of other Chinese girls? I’d rather be comfortable than stylish, so I’m sticking with that motto.

Driving: The driving is literally like back home. There were hardly any e-bikes to be seen. I saw double decker busses, and there was no beeping whatsoever. In China, they love to beep. Traffic in Hong Kong is much more organised and safer.

Westernised: In general, the whole of Hong Kong is much more Westernised than mainland China. It felt as if you were in a western country instead of being in Asia.

Safe: I’m not sure if Hong Kong is an actual safe place, but I felt safe. I thought it would be the opposite, because of the sheer amount of people that live there. Although I do feel very safe in China too.

Didn’t like:

Crowded: People were walking everywhere and anywhere. There were no quiet areas to relax.

Too many foreigners: I think that was one of the worst things about Hong Kong. It is full of foreigners. I couldn’t believe how many there were. From coming from a place where every day I get stared at, to arriving to a place and the people don’t bat an eyelid at you is a little off putting.

Expensive: From transport to food, there is a big difference in the price of things. China is known as being cheap, so coming to Hong Kong made me realise how lucky I am to live in China and being able to buy things inexpensively.

Claustrophobic: Because the buildings are so tall, you feel very cramped, and when you add the cars and people, that makes it worse. My friend said its very claustrophobic which I agree.

I was only in Hong Kong for around 3 days so I didn’t get to see many places. But in my opinion, I would like to visit it again because it’s a nice city, but I just wouldn’t like to live there.
Aisling