Everything Is Up In The Air

Since coming back from holidays, it seems like everything is up in the air at the moment. With thinking about weddings and everything that that entails, visa worries, home issues, money problems, both of us thinking about courses to do… agghh, it seems it’s all getting too much!

Thankfully, at least we have put our moving apartment on hold. We really didn’t want to worry about where to live. I’m pretty glad we decided not to move. It was just another added pressure that we didn’t need at the moment. Of course I’m still going to grumble about our crap sofa, the increase of rent, oh and no door to our bedroom…. but apart from those issues I really don’t mind staying a little while longer. We’ll just try harder not to hoard any more things.

Work on the other hand has really started to annoy me… to the point of wanting to quit. I love my students and their parents, but I really just don’t want to work for the company anymore. I don’t agree on their changes, and one thing that has really annoyed me is that they have changed which books they use for teaching.

I hate the new books that we are now forced to use. The content is bad, the layout is even worse…. in one section the students learn how to make a fruit kebab…. really??? Are the parents really going to be happy with me spending 20 minutes teaching them how to stick fruit onto a stick??? If I was a parent, I definitely wouldn’t want my child learning this. Fair enough if it’s a public school and the parents don’t pay much money, yeah I understand…it would be a fun activity. But they fork out tonnes of money for us to teach their child English that they need for their future…. I really don’t want to be wasting my class time teaching them such a useless activity.

After 3+ years of teaching, I’d like to say that I’m a good teacher. I think out of my time with the company, only 1 parent complained; and that was when I just started working there. I’d like to say my students like me and enjoy the class! I hope anyway!

So anyway, with the old books we were using, the students learned quickly and they were clear and concise. Now with these new ones, I really feel like I’m not teaching my students anything. And that’s what annoys me; I know I can teach them well IF I have good, available resources that I can use. If not, I can try and teach them as well as I can, but if the books’ contents aren’t good and are not well laid out, well, it’s just that much harder.  Plus the class will be slower.

Aw so I’m in a pickle of what to do. I really do need the money though. I can’t exactly live in China and not work… how so many people do it here I have no idea!

So theres one problem of many! But hopefully everything will sort itself out in the end. At least my visa isn’t connected to my company so I can leave whenever I want. I’m not tied to them.

You know what….I think the best thing to do is just run away back to El Nido and forget about all the worries! Yeah, that’s the best plan!

再见

爱玲

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The Perfect Apartment Is Very Hard To Find (In Chengdu Anyway)

With Chinese Spring Festival arriving soon and with our apartment contract expiring in March, we decided to get a head start on apartment hunting for our next year in China. After the Spring Festival, everyone will be in a mad rush to look for an apartment, so they will likely be snatched up pretty quickly after the festival.

As we will be away a week prior to the festival, we decided to start today looking for some. Ideally we want to stay in the community that we are already in; it’s in an ideal place, located beside a main road but there is also a back entrance where restaurants are located and we can also go to school and work that way.  So that is one thing. Another one is because the metro is now just a 10/15 minute walk away. Finally, we don’t really want to be lugging our things miles away!

When we were looking for apartments before, we got a Chinese person to help us… but this time we decided to have a go by ourselves! In our community there is an estate agent so  we went to them and they asked us what type of apartment we wanted, the price etc. He showed us some pictures on his ipad and we chose to see 5 of them.

Off we went on our little adventure!

The first one was located on the 2nd floor and out of the 5, and we thought this was the best one which we had seen. I’d prefer if it was located a bit higher, but I suppose we wouldn’t need to take the elevator! We looked for all the necessities: air con, comfy sofa and what not.

So… the first one was ok. Let’s check out the rest.

Well, the last 4 weren’t exactly in the best shape. In one, the kitchen was full of mouse droppings. Another had a bad stain on the bed. In another, the sofa wasn’t in a very good condition.

When we finished viewing them all, my boyfriend said “Every apartment has imperfections… that’s fine… but there are just TOO MANY  imperfections”.

That was the problem; all the apartments just aren’t looked after well enough; the sofas are old and dirty, there’s mould on the side of the wall, they didn’t paint a bit of the wall, a lightbulb (or many) are broken, no curtains, a broken drawer,the lock on a window is broken, theres no table….All these little things add up though. With the first one, there were imperfections, but not as many as the others.(that we could see) haha maybe that’s why we liked it more.

Oh and one thing that really drives me mad..and it seems many Chinese people like these; putting tacky stickers on the walls. AAAGHH it drives me mad! Stickers of flowers or cartoons adorn walls and on fridges.. I really don’t know what they were thinking “oh this wall looks plain, I’ll stick some green leaves so we can pretend we are in a forest”

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AAAGGHH…TOO…MANY…STICKERS…

And the thing is, if you try and rip them off, half the paint comes off with it, because it’s cheap paint. Oh I’ll never understand this love of stickers…

I could imagine the apartments and what they were like when they were brand new; shiny, clean… but you can see that the landlords just don’t put the effort into them anymore… every year they are getting shabbier and shabbier looking. It’s a pity though. They would be pretty nice apartments if they were maintained.

When we came back to our current one, we realised why we chose this one; there weren’t many imperfections. The walls were just painted, the kitchen was fine. It was presentable and clean looking. The only thing was the paint stains on our sofa, so we quickly covered that with a throw-over, and we can’t put heavy things in our kitchen shelf or else the weight will break it, oh and our coffee tables leg is broken. (ok so there are also a few imperfections in our current apartment!)

We could easily stay in the one we are in right now, but of course with the new metro opened, the landlady is just dying to increase the rent by 300yuan per month. about €41. Fine… just get us a door for our bedroom, fix our shelf.. oh and buy us a decent sofa.. then we’ll pay it! But right now… nope, it’s not worth the extra money.

But anyway…that’s the problem about apartment hunting in China. Unless you want to pay huge amounts of money, you’re going to end up with somewhere that needs some TLC.

So tomorrow we will head out again in our search; contact some agencies from outside our community. Maybe they can help us find a suitable one!

再见

爱玲

Working, Studying & Living: Sorting It Out

For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing what to do with our lives for the next year… and finally we’ve come up with a plan.

Working: Because I’m making hardly any money at the moment… although I do love the free time that I have, I’ve resorted having to go back to full time, well 15 working hours a week. This in my company is ‘full-time’.  I’ve managed to keep only working 3 days a week which is just great. I will dread the day when I have to work 7 hours 5 days a week. I’m really being spoilt here.

So working full time means I will be guaranteed my wage every month, whereas right now I’m paid by the amount of hours I teach.. so during the summer time I hardly get paid anything because students go on holidays.

Studying: We’ve also decided that this semester will be our last in our current Uni. I’ve really grown fond of it, plus I enjoy classroom based teaching. But every semester we are finding it harder and harder to get up in the morning. And at the end of the day I still have to pay 1 year tuition. We will miss everyone that we have met, even my teachers. All of them are so nice.

Instead of learning at the Uni, I will continue going to my private lessons in a private language school. It’s only 15 minutes walk from my apartment so it’s very convenient.

And as for Living: Unfortunately due to the enormous cost of rent in Xiamen, we decided to stay in Chengdu. It’s just too expensive. I really love the place, but I don’t want to be worrying about bills and rent just because I want to live somewhere sunny and pretty. I’d rather save my money and go travelling. Instead, when our apartment contract is finished, we will look at some apartments in the community that we already live in. We like where we live and we don’t want to have to lug our things miles away. Because we are going to be earning more, we want to upgrade to a bigger apartment… haha we might even get a balcony, and even a door for our bedroom!!

So right now, we are sorting out my boyfriends Mum and Dad’s visa to come to visit here, let our company know that in December I will be able to teach more students (they will surely be delighted with this), and begin to sort out the dreaded work visa for next year.

Every foreigner in Chengdu dreads that time of year when their visa expires. Enrolling in Uni is the easiest way to get one… but because we will be getting a work visa, we will need to go to Hong Kong on a ‘visa run’ as people say, plus we will get a medical certificate done.

I’m not too fond of going to Hong Kong. It’s expensive and crowded. However maybe this time round it might be different with my boyfriend being with me.

I hate having to sort visa stuff out. The people working there are not at all friendly and they can deny you a visa without giving any explanation whatsoever. Plus if you don’t have 1 piece of paper, that’s it: go home and come back when you get it. Oh and they need like 10 photocopies of every piece of paper you have. Oh they are very picky!

So, we’ve managed to sort out our plan for next year…. ha I won’t think too much ahead just right now or I’ll panic again!

再见!

爱玲

We’ve found our apartment!

We have found an apartment! After what seemed like months of looking, we have successfully signed on the dotted line for our apartment.

I must admit though, it was a lot harder than I expected. For my first apartment, I looked at 4 in the same complex. After 1 hour I chose one, signed the contract and payed the money. This time round, it must not as smooth.

First we had to find a Chinese person to help us. That meant choosing a time that suited both us and them. We researched on the internet and we found out that we could essential skip the agency, meaning ask the security men in front of the gates were there any apartments available to rent. So we did this.

This was fruitless. Many said no, some said we needed to go through an agency. Simply put, it turned out to be too bothersome, slow and unreliable.

We decided to seek out an agency. So they showed us some alright places, some terrible places, some nice places but with not so nice price tags.

Finally we found one which was decent and surprisingly for the area, quite cheap!

The apartment is quite big, the community is nice and it is close to the University. It’s also closer to the centre of Chengdu than the apartment we are at now.

We plan on buying a new sofa though, as the one in the apartment doesn’t exactly look comfortable. We had a nosy around IKEA and found a great one that turns into a bed for any visitors.

Officially our contract starts in March, but the landlady already gave us the keys! I haven’t met her, but apparently she is very very nice, even knowing a little bit of English. A little bit goes a long way!

Although I will miss the two apartments I’ve been living in, (my own and my boyfriends) it will be good to live somewhere else. Experience a new area of Chengdu.

Looking at all the apartments made me realise how much better it would be if you could build your own one. I liked different things from each apartment; the sofa from one, the location from the other… if you could only combine the best bits of each apartment, that would be fantastic.

But with every apartment, it will never be perfect… especially the ones in China. I will do a separate post about apartments in China.

So at least this apartment hunting business is over. Next is moving time!

Aisling.