A One Way Ticket Outta Here

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So we’ve finally done it…. there’s no going back! Our one way flight out of China is bought, and for once, we don’t have a return ticket!

We were struggling on finding a flight out of Hong Kong, but we found a direct one from there straight to Dublin. Unfortunately it’s rather expensive as it’s a one way ticket, but at least it’s sorted! Cathay Pacific launched direct flights in the summer from Hong Kong to Dublin so I think it’s great that Dublin airport is offering more and more direct flights to places. It’s 13 hours so the time isn’t too bad either.

Because we have little time in Asia we really wanted to visit Japan before we left. So after China we are going to spend 2 weeks travelling around Japan and then go to Hong Kong for our flight. Flights from Japan were more expensive.

I think I’m really going to miss China when I leave though. It’s been my home for 5 years. But now I’m just fed up not being able to do things by myself. I need to go to a country where I can actually speak the language! That’s one thing that I’m looking forward to, well, until I go to Mexico….. then it’ll start all over again!

So we still have to organise some things before we leave, like sending things home, selling our bikes, sorting out money and things like that. But it’s nice to know that we’ve at least started to say bye bye to China!

Aisling

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Their English & My Spanish

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I’ve been dabbling in Spanish for the past few months, but I’ve only really been putting an extra effort in it since I came back from Mexico. I can have a basic conversation and I say I’m about A2 right now. I can understand more than what I can say. So I think I’m gradually getting better with it! I don’t think my pronunciation is bad, but I need to learn the conjugations and what not. Plus increase my vocab.

As I teach English to Chinese students, I’ve been meeting up with every student and asking them “Where are you from?” “Where do you want to visit in China?” “What country do you want to visit?” and ” What do you do in your free-time?”.

Simple enough questions. But I noticed that so many of my students have atrocious English! Some of them don’t even understand “Where are you from?”.

I actually realised that I can speak better Spanish than they can speak English…… and they have been learning English since they were 4 years old!

I understand English is similar to Spanish, but these kids have been learning it since they were little. They really should be more fluent. Plus many, if not all of my students get basic tenses wrong. they would say ‘She get’, ‘Yesterday I go….’

Like this is very basic grammar, but yet they struggle. In Chinese they don’t have tenses. So for ‘I eat’ is ‘Wo chi’/ 我吃.

‘I ate’ is ‘Wo chi le’/ 我吃了.

You add ‘le’ 了 and it changes to past. So there is no conjugation needed in Chinese. So I do understand that changing tenses and what not is difficult for them, but come on, it’s not as if they only started learning English!

I think a huge part is how they are taught it at school. They are made to learn long boring passages in English from their books, and it’s just not useful for them. They don’t do enough/or any speaking in class, and they focus too much on grammar. So the way they are taught doesn’t exactly help them.

Plus many just don’t want to learn English. They don’t plan on leaving China, so why should they bother? Personally I think they are crazy; they are wrapped in their own bubble here and they have no interest in exploring the world. They are taught that China is best…. so why would they want to leave that?

Many know that English is important, I’ve asked them. They all say “It’s an international language and it’s very important to learn”…… but many just don’t learn it.

So when I compare my Spanish to my students’ English, I’m definitely progressing faster than them!

Aisling.

I only work 12 days each month. Sounds great no?

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Since arriving to China, I’ve worked in Universities and private language centres, and each has their advantages and disadvantages.

For the job I have now, which is in a University, all 11 foreign English teachers work only 3 days a week…. and that is a full time job here!

So 3 days a week, plus winter holidays off and summer holidays off. So it’s a ridiculously low work hour. Our salary is a little lower than say in a private language centre, but I would happily work 3 days over 5.

That is why in the University I work, there are teachers who have been here for 4+ years, and will most likely stay for the foreseeable future. Free apartment, free internet, my card is topped up every month for food at the canteen (at the moment I’ve about 75euro in my card from the University), they pay half of our electricity and water fee, they don’t care what we teach and don’t ask, and we get bonuses for this and that. So it’s seems like the perfect job, doesn’t it??!!

But we still plan to leave. There are so many benefits to this job, but I really can’t wait to leave. I know most people are like “Oh my god why are you leaving that???? You only work 3 days a week!!”.

I just feel like we are done in China, and I just can’t see myself here another year. This semester 4 classes out of 11 are very bad. The students are very lazy, have a bad attitude and I just couldn’t face that again for another year. I don’t enjoy teaching, I don’t enjoy the fact that the student’s don’t give a shit about what I say. I feel I’m not getting anything out of teaching, so although there are great benefits, I really just want to find something that I enjoy doing, if that means working 5 days a week. So be it. I think once you enjoy doing something, it won’t matter how many days you work.

And plus I don’t want to be here for another 5 years doing the exact same thing. I know we’ll never get this amount of benefits from a job again, and I’ll be grateful for the time that I worked 3 days a week and earned good money. But we all have to leave our comfort zone.

Most of the teachers here are planning on staying on to teach…. so I feel that they are going to be here forever (or until they can’t get a new visa)… but I just can’t do it. I feel like I would be stuck; unable to leave because of all the perks of the job.  It’s very tempting to stay, but I really want to move onto a new chapter in my life!

Which hopefully won’t involve teaching!

Aisling.

 

Who is rich in China? Don’t ask me!

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From living in China, I’ve quickly realised that material things matter to many many Chinese people. Whether it’s a new pair of shoes, a new bag, getting their hair done every week, looking great…. people here need to look….. well, rich.

One thing that I dislike about China is their need to persuade to others that they have money. They need to have nice clothes, they need to have an iphone, preferably and Iphone6+ and newer. They need to have that fancy car. It’s a constant battle to appear rich and that you have money for these things.

So it’s quite difficult to spot the people who are generally well off, and the people who are on an average wage here.

We found an example of this when myself and my fiancé went for food at our local dumpling restaurant. Now this restaurant is small, not very modern and it’s a typical hole in the wall style of restaurant that you see all over China. There’s really nothing fancy about it at all.

So we order our food and we wait, while the owner (we guess he’s the owner) is starting to leave. He has taken a shine to us and always cheerfully welcomes us in. As we wait we see him and the wife leaving, and in such a surprise to us, they get into a big, new jeep that was waiting outside.

We were both really surprised about this! How can he afford a jeep when he runs this small hole in the wall restaurant that only serves like 6 types of dumplings??!! We thought that he wouldn’t be making that much money. Maybe we are totally wrong and he actually makes a tonne of money from his business! Now we are in doubt about the whole thing!

We do know that people take out loans to buy whatever they want here, so he could have taken out a very big one for his jeep! That’s the problem here; so many people take out loans for cars and phones and what not so then they appear to be very rich, but in fact they have taken a loan for all these material things. That’s how it’s difficult to figure out who is well off and who is not.

I don’t have a car, an iphone 6+ or anything else fancy really, except for my macbook air laptop…. but at least I’m not drowning in debt! My family taught me “If you don’t have the money for it, then don’t buy it”.

Plus, I’d rather spend my money travelling!

Aisling.

 

They simply don’t care

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So I’ve started back teaching again for this semester. I just had my second week of teaching and I’m really not enjoying it.

The majority of my classes are so lazy, don’t want to do anything, and just don’t want to be there. I just hate having to teach a class, asking them a question such as ‘Have you seen this film?’ and all 30 students just stare at me and not say a word.

Like they can’t even be bothered to reply either yes or no. That’s what really drives me mad. I feel like they don’t care what the hell I say. I’m not important enough to be given a reply. Last semester I had much better students. Pretty much all of them were girls, and I really got on well with all of them. So now I’m stuck with lots of boys that don’t give a crap about English, and are only there because they have to be.

My class this was week was that I was explaining the rules, then we did a listening exercise, and finally I played a game with them. So do the boring stuff first and then the game. But many classes just didn’t seem bothered with anything. Ok the game was a bit better, but I just feel so demoted. I really can’t be bothered teaching these students, and I feel I’m going to dread every week.

I even told them “Guys please answer my questions, it makes me feel bad when no one answers”. Still nothing.

So I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m accommodating for the students, whereas it should be them accommodating for me. I’m here to teach them English, but all they want to do is play games and play on their phones…. oh or sleep.

During the break one girl came up and said the class is boring. Jesus all I did was the rules of the classroom and a listening activity. There was even a video they could watch!! So I can’t understand how they are bored with just that???? Oh yeah she loved the game after the break, but I need to try and teach them something?!

These kids are 18 years and over. I can’t remember every thinking that my class was boring. Maybe it was but I’d never say it to my teacher?!? I just got on with it and listened to them.

These kids don’t even bring a PEN to class. One of my classroom rules was ‘Bring a pen, notebook and textbook to every class’. Like I actually have to say that to them, but I do. Lots don’t bring a pen or notebook, and some with no notebook just write in their textbook instead.

Like they only need 3 things!!! Sometimes I feel like I’m teaching children. Or worse, they bring a bag with absolutely nothing in it. Or I hear the famous “I forgot my things”.

How lazy can they be?

I miss my old students. I could have a laugh with them. But with these ones, I’m pretty sure half of the boys stay in their dorm rooms all day and night huddled by their computer just playing video games. No interaction with the outside world at all.

Last semester I had great plans to teach, but now I really don’t care. The students don’t care, so why should I? I feel like I’m wasting my time, especially when they don’t even answer me.

I can’t wait to be finished with them. Other teachers are planning on staying another year, but I just can’t. It’s too demoralising for me. I want a job that is meaningful, instead of being a clown and a comedian in class.

So I’m trying to figure out the easiest method of not teaching these students anything, more games (and even a few classes weren’t too bothered with the ones I played already)  and showing them films (I’m already planning on showing one next week), so I can save myself a few weeks of trying to teach them something.

I hope the next few weeks will be better, only 15 more weeks (yay….)

 Aisling

Is It Because I’m A Woman?

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So I received my timetable for this coming semester… and guess what, out of all the (male) teachers that I work with, I’m the only one who received an extra day of work.

Another thing. I’m the only female foreign teacher.

So I really don’t know what to make of the whole thing. At the moment I’m thinking “That stupid school, giving all the male teachers what they want, and then making me have the worst schedule… they know I’m a woman and won’t complain, and plus they are afraid of all the males teachers here”. That’s what I’m thinking.

So I was rather upset when I received it, all the men happy and cheerful that they all got a wonderful schedule. Me, the only girl teacher, working the exam same amount of classes as them, but with an extra day added it.

Fair enough give me another 2/3 class on Monday to make it worthwhile, but I’m only working one class on Monday. It’s such a waste. I went down and asked them to change it but of course they can’t. That group can’t move. Well then why couldn’t they have given that group to a teacher who actually WORKS on Monday.

I hate to say it but I really feel it’s because I’m a girl. What other reason could it be. I know they are afraid of one certain teacher here, so of course he will ALWAYS get the timetable he wants, so maybe they don’t feel scared of me, I don’t know.

I wouldn’t mind if another teacher had the same as me, because then I wouldn’t be singled out. But I’m the ONLY ONE.

Last semester was the same, they gave me the worst schedule out of everyone. Everyone had 4 days off and I had to work 5. Miraculously I ended up working 3 because they kept changing my schedule and it just ended up that way, but still, they gave me more days than the others. It wasn’t them ‘trying’ to help me get a better one, it was really just luck and their own mistakes that I received a 3 day working week.

So I’m hopefully going to try and see if I can split the Monday class into other classes of mine. Of course the school won’t allow me to do it because of ‘rules’, but I know another teacher did that last semester and it was fine for him. So I’m going to try and do it and then let them know.

I’m just so angry that I’m the only that they do this to. I’m the only female teacher that they do this do. Once all the men are happy.

Aisling.

Well Hello Again (But Soon Goodbye)

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After my one month in Mexico, we’ve once again arrived back to China… however this will be the last time having to travelling a long distance to it, as we can happily and most definitely say that during the summer we will be leaving The Middle Kingdom. And that is for certain!

We feel our time is done in Chengdu, and we really want to move closer to our families, either in Mexico or Ireland…they are both much easier to travel to than China. We plan on getting married, hopefully have kids… and we just feel like we can’t do those things here. So we are now counting down the days to leave, and we can’t wait!

Since we left at the end of January, the weather in Chengdu has really warmed up, so much so that we don’t need to wear our coats now. When we left the temperature was around 10 degrees, but since we arrived back it’s been around 20 degrees. I won’t complain about that!

We start work again on Monday (unfortunately) and then we finish the beginning of July, so we will hopefully start booking flights home to Ireland before then and start selling our things.

It’s a nice feeling to know that we are moving on!

Aisling.