Yay, we got our visas!

Our 2 week wait is finally at an end! This morning we travelled to the centre of Chengdu to retrieve our new year long visas. Although we gave everything that we needed, we were unsure whether we would need to do a Medical exam. We prayed we wouldn’t, so when we handed over our documents, and when they didn’t mention anything about the Medical, then we presumed we were safe. However I constantly had that niggling feeling that they could ask (and I really wouldn’t be surprised) for a health check.

But, thankfully we received our passports with no problems! That is one less thing to worry about, and knowing 100 percent that we can now travel to Ireland. Leaving in 2 weeks, we will be there for a month, time for me to get my procedure done and then time with the family for Christmas.

I missed 2 Christmases at home, so this was a complete surprise that I would be home for this one. After going home for the summer, Christmas was DEFINITELY not on the cards. But oh well, I’ll enjoy it anyway. God knows when I’ll be back.

Although I will be missing a few weeks of Uni, I plan on trying to study the missed chapters at home and also during my private tutoring before I leave. It is amazing what vocab you pick up, and the random ones that stick.

鬼: gui= ghost.

拉肚子: la duzi= to have diarrhoea.

疯: feng= crazy/mad

Ha, I mightn’t be able to ask for directions, but I can confidently say If I have diarrhoea. Also the word for ‘ghost’ is one that I have stored, although quite useless.

It is amazing though, what words crop up during English class with my students. For instance, I was explaining the word ‘famous’, which she didn’t know. I said the Chinese of it to her and she immediately understood. I’m noticing more and more English words appearing that I actually know the Chinese of them, which is great for me! I’m actually remembering them.

My head even translated something into Chinese which I had forgotten the word in English! We were eating some bbq and I noticed this lady was using extremely long chopsticks while cooking; maybe 3 times the length of normal ones. I told Rafa ‘Oh look at the lady using the long…….’

I actually forgot the name in English for chopsticks, and before I knew it, kuaizi popped into my head! ha although this experience may have just been a once off, there is still hope that in the future I won’t need to translate EVERYTHING in my head.

And with regards to my very bad student, I had a short talk with my PA, and before she tried to convince me to take her again I said NO. No way. Although I feel bad for not teaching her, I don’t feel bad having to put up with her.

The PA said ‘Aisling I’m so sorry for putting you through this.’

I replied ‘You shouldn’t be sorry, you don’t have to be.  It’s not your fault and It’s not my fault either. It’s the parents fault for not teaching her daughter good behaviour. ‘

I advised her to give her to a male teacher; she may be more timid with them. But we’ll see how it goes!





My rant about my student on probation.

I have been teaching this girl for a few weeks now, the one I mentioned in a previous blog. I decided to put her on probation; every class if she was good, she would gain another class. So I went class by class with her.

The past few weeks were quite good, although she still didn’t like English. But this weeks class was when she really pushed me over the edge, by way of me slamming her books on the desk and telling her to leave the classroom.

The beginning of class was ok. My PA was in to figure out what to teach her, as her mother asked us to teach from her English book from school. So we figured it out and we started to learn the topic.

As soon as the PA left, she was misbehaving; laying her head on the table, not talking, and just being lazy.

She then asked me;

‘What’s your name?’

I said ‘You know my name.’

‘I forget…..Sabrina.’

This is one of her previous teachers.

‘You know that isn’t my name’.

‘I don’t know your name.’

I have taught her about 10 times, she definitely knows my name. That’s her way of pissing me off.

So I tried and tried with her for the remainder of the class, until she got angry with me.

What she told me was something I would NEVER, when I was her age, have said to my teacher. Never. She said them to me before, and I decided to give her another chance. But not this time. She does not have the right to say any of the things she said to me.

By this stage I was very angry, and upset. We still had 5 minutes left of class but I told her to go. She was blabbering in Chinese, and I was speaking English really fast back to her, knowing she wouldn’t understand. I opened the door and told her to leave and then I sat down and went on my phone. At this stage she didn’t know what to do!

She then said:

‘You are not happy.’

I replied .’No, I’m not happy, I’m very annoyed at what you said. You cannot say those things!’

Then she backtracked.

‘Oh but I’m sorry, I did not mean to say those things.

I replied ‘But the things is, you did. You did mean those things!’

Then she got super sweet and said;

‘My birthday, thank you for the card.’

I replied ‘It’s ok, you can leave now. Class is finished.’

So she slowly left the classroom and I just stayed; annoyed and upset at what she said. I went up and caught her leaving with her Mum, saying ‘Goodbye Aisling’. (Oh, now she knows my name) I just replied bye and walked ahead. I then told the PA that I’m wasn’t teaching her anymore.

Her answer was ‘But she really likes you Aisling. She was like this with her other teacher too, saying mean things to her. Her behaviour isn’t right. Her Mum doesn’t care about her. ‘

I replied ‘Thats not my fault. It shouldn’t be the teacher teaching her good behaviour and manners, thats the parents job not mine. She can’t say those things to people. If the Mum doesn’t care, then why should I then?’

She then replied ‘ The student needs behaviour counselling.’

Too right she does.

Teaching English is a two way system. The teacher has to do their job, and the student has to do theirs. Theres only so much teachers can do. If the student doesn’t want to learn, then it’s much harder for us to do our jobs. Plus, some parents expect us to do THEIR jobs, by teaching them manners and good behaviour. Then, if the student isn’t learning anything; the parents give out to the parents saying its our fault.

If you taught your son or daughter good behaviour then we wouldn’t be having this problem. Especially with my student.

Apparently with my student, her mother favours her younger brother who is smart, enjoys English, and is better than her. My PA said to me;

‘When I talk to the mother about X behaviour today, she compares her to her brother and how good he is. She does it when she is listening. So then she thinks she is stupid because she isn’t as clever as her brother.’

The Mum shouldn’t be saying these things in front of her daughter. This surely isn’t helping her self esteem or her confidence. Imagine having to listen to that from your own Mum!

But anyway, I re-iterated today that I’m not teaching her again. I don’t care to listen to her give out about me for a 3rd time.

So after my horrendous class, myself and Rafa went to the cinema with two other friends and we watched Spectre, blocking my hideous class out of my mind for a while.

Let’s hope I don’t see her on my timetable for next week, AND I don’t get another student as bad as her in the future.


爱玲 (aì líng)


Being ‘fat’ in China.

I’m well aware that my body shape isn’t the conventional shape of a Chinese body. I know this. Every day having to look at girls that have literally no fat on them whatsoever has definitely cemented this in my head!

So when my students say I’m fat, it makes me both a little angry, but It also forces me to explain to them that in fact, outside of China… I’m not actually fat.

During class, my 10 year old student and I had to make up a story. I was teaching her irregular verbs, so making up a story would be a good way for her to practise. I started mine off about a scary house. To make it more interesting I acted it out. I was pretending to try and open the door to run outside but of course it wouldn’t open. My student says to me…’But you are fat!’

I have no idea why she said this, my only guess is that because I am ‘fat’, I should be able to open the door. So, this abrupt sentence made me stop, turn to her and say… ‘I’m not fat.’ Her reply was ‘You are.’ In which I started to explain ‘ Yes, in China, I’m fat. But in Ireland I’m not. I’m normal’.

Her reply was ‘Really?’. Not the best thing to say to someone…..

I could as easily have said to her ‘You are fat too.’ As in China, she would be considered bigger than normal Chinese kids. But I would never say this to her. If someone told me at her age that I was fat, or this or that….. I would certainly remember it. So I held my tongue.

Compared to Chinese, I’m pear shaped, so I have bigger hips than them.  And I know this. I don’t try and flaunt them; wearing short shorts or the likes. Getting me into a bikini during summer nearly gives me a mental breakdown; the mental anguish of them seeing my ‘fat’ and ‘wobbly’ bits. The Chinese however, they have NO hips, and thats the way they like it. They also have no fat… like anywhere. No fat legs, no belly fat,  not even BINGO WINGS!  Sometimes I think ‘How the hell is that even possible??’

The bottom line is; Thin is beauty. Oh, and white skin.

I know my student didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, as it has happened to me before. For instance; when I came back to work after my trip to Mexico, my Chinese colleagues said ‘Aisling you are skinnier’. I didn’t know whether to be happy that I lost weight, or annoyed at the fact that before I was fatter.

It’s just a Chinese thing. In Ireland we wouldn’t mention anything about weight, but here it’s not considered taboo. If someone got fat, they will tell them, without meaning to be mean.

I heard that if someone is fat, then they enjoy eating and that they enjoy their life. Being plump means you are healthy. But the way people here are obsessed with being skinny, I don’t think this ideology applies anymore. Pity, the old idea definitely suits me better!

I’m slowly learning not to pay attention to these comments. It is hard sometimes though, especially as I’m not the most body confident person, so any criticism sticks with me…. for a long time!

Though once they say it in Chinese, then thats ok, as I won’t have a clue what they are saying about me. 🙂



Getting new student visas.

So the time has come for us to get a new visa. Because we leave for Ireland in the middle of December, when we arrive back in Chengdu we will only have 3 days before our current visa expires.  I think we could just about get away with it as we would bring all our documents with us to the airport, but I think we just don’t want to risk it! Get the visa done before we leave so we don’t have to worry about it!

We have most of our documents from the school and work so we are going to the visa office tomorrow and see what they can do. Although we want to get student visas, this means the visa is only for the schools 2 semesters, whereas we would need to get a year visa; we will get the visa this November/December. This means having to get a medical done! For working, I’ve had to get one, but we are unsure whether the officer will let us away with it or not. I’m guessing not! They are very strict. If you only have a copy of a document, they will refuse you; asking for the original, they are that strict! We hope we don’t have to get the medical, but I wont be surprised if they ask us for one!

So that has been stressing me out a little. I think anything related with visas is stressful; at the end of the day, they can simply refuse you there and then. We decided to stay in Chengdu for another year and continue studying so getting student visas is a little easier than work ones.

I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad about that fact that I’ll be here another year!? I’m enjoying studying, but now, the only reason why I’m in China is to study. If that wasn’t the case, I think I’d be gone home long before now! Many of our friends that we have met here are also thinking of leaving in the next year; people from my old and new campus are leaving, people from school are leaving….It’ll be us on our lonesomes soon!

But, I’m sure we’ll meet other people!