How Did My 2016 Resolutions Turn Out?

How Did My 2016 Resolutions Turn Out?

Scrolling down through my posts, I came across my New Years Resolutions for 2016; My (few) New Years resolutions. I had totally forgot that I had posted resolutions for myself (which isn’t a good sign), so I thought I’d update on which ones I unconsciously achieved, and some which I have not!

1.Study More Chinese.

Well I think I’ve done this unconsciously; I’ve attended another 2 semesters of Chinese learning since then. Plus I’ve read a few Chinese books, I’ve watched one Chinese movie (I know I know… 1 isn’t that good). But I have started watching a Chinese TV series called ‘虎妈猫爸’ or ‘Tiger Mum’ in English. There’s quite a lot that I don’t understand but I get the gist of each episode and the storyline. So my listening should be improving because of this. Finally my speaking; well because I’m an introvert. . . I’m not the chattiest of people even when I speak to people in my native language, never mind in Chinese! So that’s still a hurdle I need to address. But I think I achieved this resolution.

2. Do the HSK 3 exam.

Unfortunately I didn’t do this… but I did buy a book for practising! So I did have some good intentions to do it. To be honest I don’t really know how I sign up for it, and apparently you can do it in the comfort of your own home! I did not know this! I will do it one day… I might even attempt the HSK 4! haha well we’ll see!

3. Do more exercise.

Having come back from Ireland after Christmas and gaining a lot of weight, myself and my boyfriend started to do more exercise… then grew lazy as we all do. Thankfully I’ve bought a new bike so I now cycle to work and school. I’m still not as slim as before but at least I’m doing a bit more exercise. I’d have preferred to do even more exercise so I’ll put this one as half succeeded.

4. Travel more around China.

Having never left China during this year, I’ve travelled more around the country. My favourite is definitely Xiamen, I really loved the city. But I also enjoyed going to Kangding and Garze and experiencing the Tibetan way of life. I loved going to Yangshuo and seeing the famous mountains, then to Longsheng and walking in and among the rice terraces. Those a few of the places I’ve been to this year. So I’ve achieved that resolution.

5. Last but not least, be happier.

Mmm… this is  a tricky one. I hate to admit it but I’m a pessimist… instead of thinking of what could go right.. I’m constantly thinking of what could go wrong. And I’m also a worrier.. about EVERYTHING.  I really drain myself! I wish I could be a happier person… but I just naturally end up worrying and stressing over money, work, Chinese, finding a good job, missing my family loads… thinking about life after China… so obviously this makes me much less happy. I’m afraid that I’m going to live out the rest of my life not being happy; because I didn’t do this, I couldn’t do that.. I did that wrong.  So I suppose with this resolution I’ll say I half achieved it.

Now I must make my Resolutions for 2017!

再见

爱玲

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Our First Christmas On Our Own

Our First Christmas On Our Own

For the past two Christmas, I’ve been thankful to have had two great ones; one with my boyfriends family, and the other with my own family. This time however, it was only going to consist of myself and my boyfriend.

For my first Christmas away from my family, I arrived in China for my teaching internship. Unfortunately I had to work, so the day wasn’t very Christmassy at all! I remember talking to my family that evening and after I hung up I cried because I missed them so much and just felt disconnected from everything. My first Christmas away from home and I’m stuck working and being by myself. I think 2 of my students gave me presents which was so kind of them, but I made a promise to myself that I would definitely be home for the next Christmas.

However I didn’t keep my promise. After that I happened to meet my boyfriend  and we decided we would go to his country and be with his Mum and Dad. It was quite strange to celebrate Christmas in a hot country such as Mexico, whereas I’m so used to having it during the winter; it being freezing and having the roaring fire in the house.

I had a really great time there, but before long we were back in China!

Last Christmas, I unexpectedly had to go home, so we decided to go during December so that I could be with my family to celebrate. With the arrival of my new nephew, it was the first Christmas with him, so it was a new experience for the whole family!

I enjoyed my Mums dinner, ate pavlova, drank loads of Irish coffee and Baileys, and had a great time with my family and my boyfriend! I enjoyed my time (and food) so much that I also got a good deal fatter!!

So for this Christmas we didn’t travel anywhere to celebrate! It was our first Christmas in China on our own as a couple. There was no festive feeling in Chengdu as no one celebrates it here (although every supermarket sells Christmas stuff which I find weird), but we made the most of it ourselves!

My Mum sent a parcel to us the week before which had lots of presents for us… wrapped of course! Then as a surprise, my boyfriend bought a small tree and lights, and when I arrived home from work one night, he told me to close my eyes and he guided me to the tree. I opened my eyes and saw this cute tree with lights and the presents my family sent us!

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So when Christmas Day came, I turned the lights on, put on some Christmas music, and we opened our presents together.

At noon, and not particularly knowing how to cook a Christmas dinner, we decided to order some food from a restaurant and we watched the film ‘Elf’, as we had not seen that film in years! After our lunch, we treated ourselves to some hot chocolate and Ferrero Rochers that my boyfriend got me.

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Later in the afternoon, we decided to go to the shop and buy some coca cola and some cheap red wine. We mix them together and they are called Katembas. One of our South African friends told us about this drink! We both love it!

Knowing that my family would be waking up soon, I tried to give them a call, but the connection was terrible! I’m guessing it was because everyone else was trying to ring back home and talk. So I was resigned to wait until there was better connection.

After a while we tried again and thankfully we got through! It was great seeing my nephews playing with their new toys. I got a bit sad at this point; missing out on everything. I would have loved to have seen there faces seeing all their presents. Oh and eating Mums dinner!

But it was great to see them happy and having a good day.

After talking to the family, and for our dinner, we made some quick Quesadillas and we enjoyed eating them while drinking our Katembas. We decided to stick on a film called ‘Krampus’, a scary Christmas film, which we both thought was quite good! It was something different anyway!

At around 8:30, we watched our last film ‘Mean Girls’. I know it’s not a very Christmassy film, but my boyfriend never saw it before so I really wanted him to see it. My Mum surprised us by putting a Christmas pudding that she made into a tin for us. We opened the present and we put it aside, thinking there are chocolates inside. Later my Mum asked me ‘What did you think of the pudding?’

What pudding?? She never sent us a pudding…

She told us to open the tin, and there it was, wrapped up! We decided to have this for our dessert, and it was lovely!  Lastly, we had a little Tequila. My boyfriends Mum and Dad, when they were over, brought some good quality Tequila from Mexico over for us so we had a small drop of that to end our Christmas day.

And do you know what, we both had a great Christmas together. The day before I was thinking ‘Will I miss my family and be sad for the whole day?, What food will we eat? What will we do?’ but thankfully it turned out to be a lovely relaxing day with just the two of us.

Although there wasn’t a very festive feeling outside, but we made it festive in our apartment. We enjoyed each others company, ate loads of food, and had a great day!

So we are now both wondering where or what we will be doing for next Christmas…. Wherever it will be, I’m sure it will be wonderful like my past 3 Christmases!

再见

爱玲

Trying to hide from our secret admirer! (aka Beag)

Trying to hide from our secret admirer! (aka Beag)

In one of my previous posts; Our Secret Dog I’ve mentioned our secretly adopted dog called Beag. He lives in the same building as us and we regularly see him in and around our complex. He’s such a cute dog and we would love to have him as our own. But, pity to say we can’t actually just rob him from his actual owners… but we like to pretend he’s ours!

A few days ago we had to pick up a box which my family sent me from Ireland, arriving in Chengdu in only about 6 days, it was extremely fast! We had to go and pick it up at the storage area, so we took a bus to go.

We stepped out of our building and started walking, and who did we meet but Beag. We were delighted to see him! So he started walking with us and sniffing about, out of our complex and down the road with us.

He would disappear for a few seconds, then suddenly reappear at our sides!

But then we started getting worried, we were still walking down the road and he was still following us. ‘I hope he doesn’t follow us all the way’, I thought. ‘What happens if we get on the bus and he jumps in with us?’

We were also afraid in case he becomes confused and can’t find his way home. Or a car or scooter hit him. They don’t stop for pedestrians crossing the road, they certainly won’t stop for a 1.5 foot dog!

But still he followed! And the cute thing was, he would be walking in front of us, and then look back to make sure we were still there!

Suddenly, he ran across the road and and started sniffing about ‘Good, maybe he will get distracted and will forget about us’. 

But no! Suddenly I see he’s back at our side!

Oh! A dog! He’ll definitely want to go over and have a smell, that’s our chance to lose him! 

Wrong again… Beag really wants to find out where we are going!

So we start getting to a corner of the street…. and we look around.

“Right Aisling, he’s distracted, quick, we’ll run around the corner and hopefully he’ll loose us and he’ll head back home”

So we started running around the corner and down the road to where we have to cross the street.

We made it to the road and look behind…

“Oh Aisling I see him! He’s coming this way! He’s looking around for us!”

Oh no, I really don’t want him crossing this road; it’s too busy and we don’t want him to get hurt.

We stand still and hope he doesn’t appear next to us.

“He’s passed us, but he’s still looking around” my boyfriend says.

The green light appeared, we quickly cross and start walking to the bus stop.

“I can see him, he’s at the bus stop at the opposite side, we’re ok!”

Phew! We didn’t exactly want him following us onto the bus. We had to go pretty far to collect my package.

…..

After we collected our package and headed home, we were wondering what happened to Beag… did he get home safe?

But thankfully the next day we saw him at our building!

He came running up to us and we started petting him, glad to see he made his way home!

Chinese people really love their dogs, but when they are on their own, it’s a little dangerous for them. Drivers only notice pedestrians crossing the street when they are literally 1 foot in front of them and then nearly crashing into them (haha sometimes we say drivers here wear those blinkers/blinders for horses and only see people when they are literally right on top of them), so they definitely won’t be looking out for small animals.

But hopefully Beag has a bit of common sense and will avoid the roads… oh and look left and right!

再见

爱玲

I Hate Visa Time

Time has again rolled by for having to apply for a new visa. I don’t particularly enjoy having to renew my visa; nothing ever goes to plan. I don’t think we have ever successfully applied for ours in one day. You always hear:

“You don’t have this document.”

“You need the original copy of this”

“Where is blah blah blah copy?”

But our 1 year study visa has nearly run out, so it is a must!

Having to sort out visa things a few times now, we sort of know what exactly we need to bring. We were pretty sure that everything would go smoothly!

Wrong!

One by one, each person is called to a desk and the officer looks through our papers and what not. This is the bit that I dread. They could ask you nothing, and simply carry out checking you have the correct documents, or they could bombard you with questions! This time one year ago I was bombarded with questions about working and studying.

So this time round I was a little nervous. I don’t want to say something wrong or stupid and then have them cancel my visa!

I’ve been hearing lately that the visa officers are becoming more and more strict with visas and who they give them out to. In China, the people who cannot get a work visa, decide to enrol with a university and get a student one, but then never come to class and just work 30-40 hours a week. So now officers are checking random foreigners to see if they have the right visa.

But thankfully with my visa everything was going ok… until he said “Today you will have to pay 800yuan for your visa”

What??? I was only prepared to pay 400yuan… If I was staying for less a year, or even just 364 days, then I only need to pay 400yuan.  I thought all my documents said that I wasn’t applying for a year visa.

I started blubbering and saying that I wasn’t applying for the year one, in which he replied “Do you see here on your passport visa, it says this name, but on your work contract there is another name, so I can’t give you an extension because they are different. I know they are the same company, but they gave you a different name of the company on your work contract then whats on your passport visa.”

He carried on telling us that we could either wait until the current visa is about to expire and then apply, or pay the 800yuan. We told him we couldn’t wait; we would be leaving China only a few days after they expire, so it was impossible.

But then, thankfully he said “well if you want to go to your work company and ask them to change the name, then come back tomorrow and we can process your visa then.”

Oh I was so happy when he said that! I really didn’t want to pay an extra 400yuan.

We didn’t want to have to go the next day to sort it out so we decided to go straight after, get it all over and done with in a day.

We went to our work headquarters half an hour away and they filled in another contract for us. We travelled back to the PSB office and the man was surprised when he saw us “Oh you have the correct one now?”

We both successfully paid and we were finished, having to collect our passports in three weeks, then it’s over! No more worrying!

再见

爱玲

Our Secret Dog

Throughout our stay in China, we have encountered many many dogs! People here love dogs…but in Chengdu… they are obsessed with one particular kind.

POODLES

My god how I loathe these dogs. Poodle here… poodle there…. theres a black poodle, oh over there is a brown one… another white one then appears… They are EVERYWHERE.

A few years ago they have become the top dog for people to get. ‘Oh, poodles must be the ‘in dog’ now…. I MUST  get one so I can be like everyone else.’

So…. literally everybody has poodles. And I really don’t like them.

To me, when I look at them, they just seem like there is nothing going on inside of their heads. Fluff or air is floating about. Even their fur isn’t nice and soft. Plain and simple; I just don’t like them.

I actually nearly kicked one once when it was dark out. By accident of course, but I wouldn’t be THAT sorry if I did. I must admit though, the puppies are a tiny bit cute… but that’s it.

So thankfully, at least from what I’ve been seeing… there are other breeds of dogs creeping up. Plenty of poodles are still about, but at least now there are more breeds of dogs, particularly husky type ones.

Although I do feel like sorry for them; summer in Chengdu is definitely not the place for these huge dogs, it’s just too hot for them. Owners really should take this into consideration when buying ones. Plus being cramped up in apartments isn’t ideal.

But one dog really has caught our attention. We name him Beag, and he is our ‘secret’ dog. Beag is ‘little’ in Irish.

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2/3 months ago was when we first saw him; he was outside our apartment and was barking. When we opened the door, he suddenly ran to the public stairs and started growling at us. Then he just disappeared down the stairs.

At this time it was about 9/10pm. We were wondering why he was out by himself roaming up and down the building.

Then, we started seeing him almost every day! He would be outside the building sniffing about.. and he could be outside for hours! We were a little worried; where are his owners.. are they not worried in case he gets into danger??

Then one night, we came out of the lift to our apartment floor and the wee dog was just waiting for us!

This time he was so playful and running all over the place, I think he just wanted to play with us. It was so strange to see him on our floor. How did he manage to get up here? Maybe he lives a few floors up or down?

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When we found him on our floor. Look at the size of those ears!

We didn’t know what to do with him… Every time we tried to open our door, he would try and come in… we even tried to put him in the lift to put him on another floor, but he realised and ran straight out. If we brought him to our place, it would be harder to get him out… or he could start barking outside the door wanting to be let in. Although we were very tempted to bring him in with us. Pretend we had our own dog for a while.

But we couldn’t… So we quickly put him in the lift again and down he went to another floor. At least we would have time to get into our apartment.

Since then, when we wait for the lift, and when the doors open…. who appears but Beag! I’m guessing maybe the owners put him in it and send him down; too lazy to bring him out themselves.

He knows us now, so whenever he sees us he runs over so we can pet him. He’s such a cute dog.

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So Beag has become our secret dog…. We both would love to have one of our own, but at the moment it’s just not possible. Our apartment is way too small, plus if you go away on holidays or for a day, where would we put it?

But we can dream a little with Beag!

再见

爱玲

 

Being Conned By A Taxi Man

Being Conned By A Taxi Man

I have been quite lucky in the fact that I haven’t been scammed; you hear in Beijing about people being scammed when they meet a student looking to ‘practice their English with you’ and you both go to a teahouse to drink tea. Then suddenly the bill comes and the tea is at an extortionate price. Obviously the ‘student’ and the teahouse are in this together, and they force the foreigner to pay.

This is quite a well known scam that most people going to Beijing should have heard about. But in Chengdu, I’ve never encountered a scam….

That was until 2 weeks ago…

When my boyfriends parents were here, we decided to go for some Beijing Duck. It’s a little far from our place, so we decided to hail a taxi to get there; costing 20元. About 4/5euro.

After our meal, we caught another taxi and away home we went. Every taxi has a meter, and usually it begins at 8元 and continues from that price.. I think it is based on every kilometre you drive… and it increases by 1yuan.

So naturally we presumed it would be around the 20元 mark. As we were driving, I happened to look at the metre…… 30元!!??

We were still not home… but it was already at this high price! I kept looking at it and the metre suddenly jumped another 2 yuan in a matter of 10 seconds.

‘That’s definitely not right’ I thought. It’s broken.

Then, to make things worse, I didn’t spot any information about the taxi man in the car. No card or details about him… You always see details of the driver on the dashboard. Definitely a dodgy taxi.

It was then when my boyfriend noticed the metre. He asked him why is it so expensive? And the taxi man didn’t reply.

Then, out of nowhere, he starts blabbering in Chinese to him. Huh…. throughout the whole ride home he never said a word…. and it was only until my boyfriend mentioned the price that he started talking.

He asked where we were from and how long have we lived in China. When we said 3 years… I’m pretty sure he copped on and thought ‘Oh no, these guys actually live here…. so they know rightly well that this metre is rigged…. well I can’t do anything about it now…’

So when we arrived home… the metre ended up at 45 元!!! What a ripoff!

He stopped the taxi and we immediately said that’s far too expensive… his reply was ‘You are foreigners!!’ 

And??? Just because we are foreigners doesn’t mean you have the right to rip us off. Obviously he doesn’t care about showing Chinese hospitality to ‘us foreigners’.

So we went back and forth with him about not paying and we settled it at 25元。 A much more satisfactory price.

I keep on wondering how he did it though; did he click a button when he saw us and thats when the metre changed? Or is the metre like that for everybody who uses it?

I didn’t know that type of thing existed. It looked like a normal taxi to us.

And apparently these fake taxis are becoming more and more common, as one student in our class said he got into 3 of these fake ones in the last year.

Thankfully we rarely take taxis, only taking them for the convenience of my boyfriends Mum and Dad being here.

But, it goes to show that these are about. In future, we will look at the dashboard and make sure there is correct information about the driver before we step into the car.

We certainly learned to be more cautious!

再见

爱玲

Teaching My Chinese Students: An Update

Teaching My Chinese Students: An Update

Because teaching here in China has now become ‘normal’ and well, not terribly exciting, I’ve kind of neglected to write more posts about it. But I’ll write an update about how it’s going.

At the moment I have about 10 groups who I teach. Although when I go back full time It will increase. Thankfully, everyone (apart from one group) are fantastic. My youngest are aged about 6/7 I think, while my oldest is 14. My youngest are learning phonics, so for me it’s quite an easy class, plus for them they enjoy it because they don’t have to actually learn English vocab and grammar, just how to say the words.

I’ve had one student for over 2 years now I think, and she moved with me to my new campus from my old one. Her English has improved really quickly! From 2 years ago to now I really do notice her improvement. Now I’m not saying that’s all because of me… but she’s the student I’ve had the longest, so I see the most improvement in her. She’s the one that keeps calling me ‘fat’ (huh and she’s the one that talks about food in class all the time) but overall she is a great student.

My not so great group is with two boys. The two boys that I used to have got split up, so now I teach them separately, but now the oldest boy has been paired with another boy…. and unfortunately the group isn’t so good anymore.

Now my old student ‘S’ has become much more disobedient! It really annoys me because I know that his behaviour used to be good, and I enjoyed teaching him and the other student. But since ‘T’ has joined, he has affected ‘S’s behaviour in class. It’s such a pity, because I know ‘S’ is a good student; I’ve seen it. But unfortunately this other boy is effectively ruining his learning in class.

If it continues I think I might tell ‘S’ that his behaviour isn’t good anymore… shame him a bit about this fact. I know he’s a good boy underneath it all.

But anyway, I’ve recently had a 21 year old studying with me for a few weeks. She is not resigning so I only have her a few more times. She is studying to do an English test, but the way it’s going, I don’t think she will pass. Her vocabulary just isn’t good enough, plus I feel like she isn’t very motivated. haha I can say the same for myself with Chinese sometimes!

In my opinion, it’s a shame that she isn’t resigning again, she really needs extra English classes to improve. I really can’t see her studying by herself.

But she is a nice and friendly student though, and I enjoy teaching her.

Company wise, it definitely need more improvements. Especially with Chinese PA’s… they are dropping like flies in our campus. The PA that has been with us the longest has just left as she hated her job, so I’m pretty sure every other PA has only been with us for a few months.

It’s coming to the stage where I don’t even try and remember their names, as most likely they will leave soon enough. It’s pretty sad though; the company treats teachers with good pay, holidays and two days off a week, whereas PA’s aren’t paid a lot, they only get 1 day off a week, and they have to put up with a lot of crap from parents AND from teachers complaining. So I’m really not surprised that so many quit.

Unless all the PA’s decide to revolt and protest, I don’t think much will change, especially if they don’t want to ‘lose face’, a strange Chinese phenomenon.

If you have never heard of this, have a look at the link below for some information about it!

‘Losing Face’ in China

再见

爱玲