Bad girl turned good.

Fortunately (and unfortunately) my terror of a student from my previous post was well behaved, ok so not well behaved, more like ok behaved. I said to my boyfriend on the way up to work ‘She’s on probation’, so if she was extremely bad on this day, that was it. I was going to tell the PA that I wasn’t teaching her anymore. I’d rather teach a student who wants to learn. Fortunately she was good, but unfortunately for me, I could no longer say I wasn’t going to teach her. I’ll have watch her and if she turns bad again, I’m going to have to let her go.

However for the class, we spent about 35 minutes out of 60, correcting her homework that she didn’t do. She doesn’t like writing or reading, or pretty much anything related to English; so to get her to do it we had to make a game of it, which actually turned out well. We didn’t manage to correct all the homework though.

China wise, there is a holiday coming up called the Moon Cake Festival. They eat these cakes filled with different things. Here is the link of the different kinds.Top 10 moon cakes. They look really nice, but the majority of foreigners don’t like them, including me. I once bought one and it turned out to be meat in the middle. After that it put me off them. In the link above there seem to be nice ones; including ice-cream! I am willing to try one again though, once it’s not meat or seafood.

So for the holiday this means we will have a few days off school and work. We don’t plan to go anywhere; It will be too crowded and we are trying to save money. We’ll most likely meet our friends at one point and do something with them, maybe visit some towns around Chengdu.

The first Moon Cake Festival I was at since coming to China, we headed to Xi’an, and it was mental! We also visited Jiuzhaigou, which was beautiful but again very busy. I think I posted some pictures of my time there in my older posts.



Settling in and Health Scares.

SoI’ve finally gotten into my routine again with Uni. I’ve been looking forward to this since holidays, plus looking forward to actually learning new things too. At the moment nothing exciting has been happening at all. Unfortunately I received some bad news health wise. ( I may or may not divulge the details) so that has been playing on my mind recently. I may have to return to Ireland in a few months time to get it sorted out. I checked with a foreign clinic here in Chengdu and they were charging me about 1000euro!! No thank you! First of all, I don’t have that money right now, second of all, I’m literally being ripped off for a 10 minute procedure.

We got in contact with my doctor at home and he said I can get the procedure done at home… for FREE! What!?! Nothing is ever for free! But I was assured by my Mum that this is free. I wont say no to visiting home again though. Although I did end up getting worked up about where I can get this done in Chengdu, (before knowing it was free) and asking a Chinese friend to help me. She got in contact with a doctor from here and he said to her that foreigners shouldn’t go to a Chinese hospital; they are noisy, are not private and the doctors don’t really care about the patients. So that kind of made my mind up with that.

But thankfully with this new news about being able to get it done at home, it has relieved me quite a lot!

However, for any foreigners living in China, and if you are sick… I recommend you search for places to get checked out. My doctor said that the quote from this private company in Chengdu was far too expensive. Thats the bad thing being sick in China. They can charge ridiculous fees to expats because they know it’s much easier to come to them; English speaking doctors. They know you wont want to go to a Chinese hospital. So just be very careful.

But apart from that, everything is going ok, I guess. My teaching is going not as well. One student on a Friday had a big tantrum because I wanted to review a unit with her. I promised her to only review for one minute and then move on, but she wasn’t having any of it; shouting and me and then crying. And she’s 10! So I had to call my PA and get her to talk to her.

The thing is, all she wants to do is play games. Thats it. Of course I can play games with her, but trying to incorporate the English I’m teaching is another story. She only wants to do her own thing.

After the PA talked her she told me ‘I am VERY angry’. I replied ‘Why are you angry?’ Of course I knew it was because of me, I asked her ‘Who are you angry with? Zoe?’ She replied ‘No’. I asked her who, and unsurprisingly the answer was me.

After that the class was a disaster, and she didn’t learn anything. I have her again next Friday and if she keeps it up then i’m going to say I’m not teaching her anymore. She is obviously not interested in learning English, she is slowly disliking me, and to be honest, I have no interest in teaching someone who doesn’t want to learn and doesn’t want to be there. She’s used to getting her own way it seems.

At the beginning I was all about ‘oh but I want all my students to like me!’. Now with this girl, it’s getting her to like English, and not me!

My other group on a Friday is also going to change; one of my favourites too. The girl is moving to Singapore, so the boy is going to be with someone else. This boy hardly talks in class, can hardly read, and is only now getting comfortable with me…. after 7 months. Being thrown in with a new student is going to drastically change the atmosphere, and of course the boy, who is very very sensitive.  So we’ll see how that goes.



My first week back studying.

So it’s been a week since returning to studying Mandarin. Compared to last semester a few things have changed. From the people who were in the previous semester and who are still in level 2 are about 8 including me. In level 1 there were 2 Korean girls and we presumed they were coming back, they did…. but skipped on to level 3. I’m thinking maybe they studied Mandarin during the summer and that is why they moved ahead. Then there is an older man doing level one again. Oh I don’t think I could learn the pronunciation of  ‘bo, mo, fo, le’ for a whole month!  One is enough!

During the week there have been dribs and drabs of new people, coming and going, trying out the different levels to see which one they are capable of. Some come and have very basic Chinese, then others come with a much higher level. However, for all students there is one problem….

Characters. 汉字。

This is why some people, who have a high level of Chinese, are seen in Level 1. Yes their Chinese is good and they can have a conversation, but when it comes to reading and writing Chinese, they have never studied this. In order to begin to learn the characters you would ideally need to start from the beginning and work upwards. This is what we did, fortunately I didn’t know any characters anyway so level 1 was perfect for me.

Now, in level 2, the character we learned from level 1 are now in our newest book. Thankfully we took the time to learn(most of these) so translating isn’t so difficult. There is one German lady who, during the beginning of the week was contemplating moving to level 1. Her oral Chinese is, I would say on my level, but she admitted that she didn’t know a lot of characters when we were in class. She decided to stick to level 2 and push on, learning the extra characters as she goes.

Someone that I work with has also joined our class, which was a big surprise to me! His Chinese is much better than mine, but he is in our level simply to learn the characters. See in level 3 there is no pinyin. From level 3 onwards the books contain all characters. So that is a big jump! He wants to study in a Chinese Uni but he needs to know characters. Thats why he is with us.

And unsurprisingly there are no other Irish people in my class, in fact today there were only 2 females in the class; myself and the German lady. So us women are very outnumbered!

So my first week was good; even on our first day we learnt something! Classes end the 26th of December, and in October we are going on a trip, presumably to jiuzhaigou! 九寨沟。 Although I was there before, I’ll definitely go back!

I can’t wait to find out what I will learn this semester!



My excitement of Uni and my uncertainty of eating rabbit.

For once in my life, I’m actually excited to get up in the morning, because……. University is starting! This excitement will not be present in the morning however, as the earliest time I have had to wake up at is 8:30am for work. Tomorrow it’s a sad 7:20am wake up time.  I may start getting used to these early mornings again!

But, I am actually happy to go back. Get started on our level 2 book! And we will get to see our new classmates. Where will they be from I wonder. Maybe someone Irish will make an appearance. I know some people from level 1 will be there, so some old faces will be seen.

I did plan to have all my characters from the level 1 book learnt, but unfortunately that did not happen, I may (or may not) look at them again in the future, but I’m pretty confident I know most of the stuff from the old book. (Apart from directions, which I’m bad enough in English with).

I’ve also been keeping up with my Memrize account, where I learn the characters and their meaning. At the moment I have finished the HSK level 1 characters, so my hope is to have completed the HSK level 2 characters by the end of the semester, thus gradually building up to the HSK 4. The HSK is an exam for foreigners who are studying Chinese. Personally I would be chuffed to be at the HSK level 4; this means you can confidently talk to Chinese people about a whole range of topics. There are 6 levels altogether, so I hope slowly I’ll be able to reach that… in a couple of years time I might add.

So before our early morning, myself, Rafa and three other friends went for some rabbit. I was dubious of eating rabbit; I know it doesn’t taste like the regular stuff I’m used to. But I was pleasantly surprised of how nice it tasted! It tasted more like duck, and it wasn’t fatty or greasy. Our (used to be) fellow classmate brought us; Thanks Kirsten! We can now add this place to our very slowly growing list of restaurants to eat at.

My fellow blogger Kirsten and her time in Chengdu:



My private Chinese classes.

Since last Tuesday I’ve had two hours of private tutoring. I’ve decided, mainly due to my lack of willingness to speak Chinese outside the classroom (I’ve become like my students) that the thing I needed was an environment in which I HAD to speak. The language place is about a 20 minute walk from mine. I can actually see the building complex from my bedroom, it’s that close! But due to the winding of the roads here, it takes me longer to walk there.

My teacher is called Xiao, in which she told me she is also studying in the Uni I go to; teaching Chinese to foreigners. I think at the moment she is doing her work experience, with me as her pupil!

So far I’ve realised;

  1. I can actually speak more than I thought.

    2. My tones need improving. (Especially in a long sentence)

    3. I need to practice more.

The main reasons why I decided to join was purely to become more confident at speaking. I was in our complex’s shop getting some beers, and this man started blabbering in Chinese. Instinctively I replied in Chinese ‘I don’t understand’. I’VE become those Chinese people, the ones that automatically assume that whatever Chinese I say to them they wont understand. I’ve unfortunately become that to the Chinese. I should have asked him again. Plus, they speak bloody fast! They never try to speak slower, it’s their pace or no pace.  Another man in the shop then repeated what he said, ‘He said your Chinese is good’. GOOD? It’s atrocious! I know you mean well, but I know that’s a big fat lie. In the shop I literally said in Chinese ‘I have this, but I don’t know’. I didn’t even know how to finish off with ‘I don’t know what to do with these’ ( I had beer bottle caps and I could hand them in and get free ones) I have a vague idea of how to say it, but with the Chinese sentence pattern, I don’t know if its correct.

This is why I need to go to private classes.

Give me something like my studies, family or my likes and dislikes, and I’ll spiel off my rehearsed speech about these. Not a bother to me.

Let’s just hope that I see an improvement! Or at least see my confidence in speaking go up.