All The Same Names

All The Same Names

With having 10 classes of about 25 students in each, there are quite a lot of students names to remember! However in the other University where I first taught in Chengdu, I sometimes had 80+ students in one class alone. So there was absolutely no way that I could remember all their names. This time around, there are less students, but instead, they all decide to choose really similar names to each other!

For girls, I’m pretty sure the majority of the girl students begin with the letter ‘A’.

Alisa, Alice, Ann, Anne, Anny, Annie, Anna,  Alyson, Alina,  Aimee, Amy, Abby, Amber.

TOO MANY ‘A’s!!!!!!

How the hell am I supposed to remember all these girls with names that sound so similar to each other?? In one class I had 2 Amy’s and 1 Aimee. So one Amy thankfully decided to change her name to….

‘MC DOUBLE T’

….. I’ve no idea where she got it from but at least it doesn’t start with A! So I don’t mind at all!

During our first class together, I asked all the students “Why did you pick your name?”

“Because it was easy”

Too right it was easy!

The boys on the other hand have more unique names; Ambrose, Wilson, Curry, Fireman, Black, Eden, Angelo, Jack, Juny, Silver Wolf, Snapper, Sim, Farlin, Ingemour, Brother Zhou.

So there are a few strange boy ones but they are definitely the one’s that I can remember!

I feel bad asking the girl students 5 time during class ‘Sorry what’s your name again?’ But at the same time it is very difficult for me to remember all these ‘A’ named students.

So I’m going to be struggling with remembering who they all are for this semester and then next semester I will have brand new students!

Let’s hope next time I’ll be the only person in the classroom with a name that begins with ‘A’!

Aisling.

Advertisements
A Reconstructed Ancient Town (In The Middle Of Nowhere)

A Reconstructed Ancient Town (In The Middle Of Nowhere)

About a 10 minute walk from our apartment there is a ginormous reconstructed entrance gate to the unknown! We passed it a few times meaning to go in and find out what was inside, so with it being a holiday in China at the moment and because it was a nice day that day, we decided to go and check it out.

We were pleasantly surprised; it was quite big, and it was all constructed to look like an ancient old town. We wandered through the area and we found places with people drinking tea and playing Chinese games. We didn’t expect it to be as nice as it was!

 

But we kept asking ourselves; why would they build this here, in the middle of nowhere?? Well it’s not in the middle of nowhere exactly; there are communities of people and what not. But it’s certainly not in the city. Why go to all this effort and spend lots of money on creating this town, where most people most likely don’t even know it exists??

There were a few people and families in it while we there, so people do come and walk around, but it wasn’t crazy like all the other ancient towns nearer to the city are. It was a nice change though. I’m certain that if it was nearer to the city and more easily accessible it would be bustling with people!

I’m pretty sure in the next 10 years the city will have expanded even more and the area where I live will be more incorporated into it, so I’m sure the town will get more visitors then.

There were a few restaurants opened inside it which people were eating in, but it seemed like before there were many more, but have now closed. It’s weird; looking into the now closed up restaurants, we could see bottles of unopened soy milk, plates and pans about the place, so it’s as if they just suddenly upped and left!

But anyway, it was nice not being surrounded by a swarm of people for a change!

再见

Aisling.

 

 

Learning Spanish With ‘Duolingo’

Learning Spanish With ‘Duolingo’

After finishing up my last semester learning Chinese and starting a job, I’ve put Chinese to the side for the moment. Having become increasingly frustrated with how little I’ve learnt so far, I’ve decided to move onto Spanish for a while. Plus I have my own private Spanish tutor living with me which definitely helps!

I had a go at learning Spanish before, but I quickly realised that it was just too difficult to concentrate on two languages at the same time. But now I’ve really put more effort into learning the basics of Spanish, and so far I’m doing ok.

I’ve been using Duolingo, and overall it’s pretty good. There are some problems in how they teach it, but I’m getting the basics right and although I guess some answers, usually they are correct! So something is working!

In order to improve my pronunciation, I try and mimic the Spanish recordings until I get it right, this way I can sound more native like and also It’ll help me to practice speaking in Spanish.

What I need to do now is get my fiancé to speak Spanish to me all the time. The problem with that though is that because I’m only at a basic level, he really needs to dumb everything down. Maybe when my level is higher then he can do that with me. At the moment If I’ve any problems with grammar or what not, then I ask him and he tries to explain it to me.

But of course the Chinese grammar that I’ve learned creeps in sometimes.

For example, there was a sentence like ‘ I talk with my father’

So in my head I reverted back to my Chinese grammar and how I would say it in Chinese using the Chinese sentence structure: ‘I with my father talk’

So I start saying in Spanish “Yo con mi padre hablo”

My fiancé looks at me and says “No……Aisling that’s not right. Say it again.”

So I say again, wondering what’s wrong with my sentence.

“Aisling you are using the Chinese sentence structure. Just say it like you would in English!”

Ohhh….. I never even realised! I just naturally translated it into the way I would have said it in Chinese. Also, when he speaks to me in Spanish, I automatically think of the answer in Chinese, so it’ll take me a little while to get used to switching from Chinese mode to Spanish!

But anyway, I’m glad I started using Duolingo; it’s good for beginners and it gives a good foundation on the language.

Plus it’s free!

Aisling.

All The Blank Faces

All The Blank Faces

I’ve been teaching in my current job 4 weeks now, and generally it’s going ok. This can’t be said for some of my students though! I’ve said it once, and I’m going to keep saying it until I finish working here; but sometimes it feels like I’m teaching rocks.

Honestly, it’s like trying to get blood out of a stone with some of these kids. With the exception of two great classes, most of the time when I’m teaching, all I see is a wall of blank, emotionless faces.

It’s pretty hard to get my students motivated to do anything.

“OK STUDENTS, WHICHEVER TEAM WINS THIS GAME WILL GET NO HOMEWORK!!!”

Nothing…..

No excitement whatsoever occurs. Faces are still blank.

They must really enjoy homework if that’s the case!

So yeah, some students just are very unmotivated to participate in class.

Unlike the rest of the world, Chinese students aren’t encouraged to think creatively and outside the box. They are made to remember large volumes of texts and that’s it. So when I get them to do an activity that needs them to think individually and be creative; a lot of them just can’t do it.

‘wo bu hui….wo bu hui” 我不会。 They keep repeating to me “I can’t do it”. I say to them “You can do it! You just need to think about it more”.

For this particular task, we were studying personality words like timid, hard working….. After learning the words, I asked a few students to come up to the top of the class where i would give them a word and they have to act it out. They cannot speak, so they have to use their bodies to explain their word. Then the other students need to guess what word they have.

Easy peasy. They don’t even have to speak! Wrong. Most of them couldn’t do it. Give them an easy one ‘funny’. In my mind for this one, you simply pretend to laugh. But for them, they are getting nervous just thinking about how to do it. They are thinking and thinking about how to do it, until they ask for another one.

“Another one?? How will you do the others  when you can’t even do funny??”

So that activity was too difficult for them. I explained to them that you need to be more creative in class. In my class, speaking is key, but in order to speak they need to be able to think of things to say.

Then there are students that can’t speak whatsoever. ‘Hello” is the most they can say. It’s difficult trying to teach students with such a different level in each class, so I’m trying to teach basic English, more advanced English, plus for the students to be more creative in class.

But anyway, I don’t really expect to teach the students much English. Their English is just too basic, and a lot of them aren’t interested in learning it. All I care about is them trying in class. I told them “I don’t mind if your English is wrong, just try. That’s all I want. Even if you say one sentence… that’s great. You tried”. Thing is, many don’t want to try.

So when I’m trying my hardest to engage the students and all I see is a wall of emotionless faces, it really demotivates me to try and teach them. I try very hard to get them interested and they just stare up at me. Sometimes I feel I need to be a comedian in order to get anything out of them!

I have two classes and they are great, so I don’t mind teaching those. They are a little older and they generally seem more interested. So those classes are great. But overall, I really don’t think I could stay another year here trying to teach robots.

再见

爱玲 Aisling

 

The Police Are Coming!

So I’ve settled in nicely with regards to teaching and where I’m currently living. We’ve also visited a few shopping centres that are a few bus stops away from us, plus found new places to eat, so all in all I think we have both settled in ok.

We are always trying to find new places to eat, but in China there will always be food places around. If there are people, restaurants will come.

One evening after class, we decided to venture outside the campus and take a 5 minute walk to a street where there are more restaurants. We come across about 5/6 food stalls literally straight in front of the campus back gates. “This is great!” we thought. Now we have some food on our doorstep!

So we have a look at what they are selling; fried potatoes (great for me), these sort of Chinese pancakes, fried rice, noodle dishes and bbq food on sticks (called shao kao). So quite a nice selection!

We decide to get a rice dish and while we are ordering, one of the other foreign teachers comes behind us and we start talking. He mentions that usually the police show up and the food stalls have to move up and go. I’m not sure if they are legal or illegal, but I’m sure the other restaurants down the road get pretty angry when these people literally park right outside the students campus and sell their food.

So anyway, the teacher leaves with his food and we continue to wait for ours to be cooked. All of a sudden we hear two beeps coming down the road. We look up and we see blue lights flickering down the road. “Oh the police are here!!” we said. And up they come in their police golf cart and park. It’s such a funny sight seeing police officers in this electric golf cart for the 4 of them. I’m not sure if this is in all of China, but in Chengdu it’s very common to see them spinning about in their cart.

police golf cart

Source; google

“Tamen you lai le”…”Here they are again” I heard our lady from our cart say. Of course they know that the police will eventually come, so they quickly try and get as many orders out as they can.

IMG_8975

The different food stalls

IMG_8976

He cooks while she takes care of the orders

IMG_8980

If there are no police, it’s safe to come!

So the police come and stop, and one man jumps out and starts taking pictures of the stalls. Of course he’s seen this before, so he casually waits until all the carts have finished their orders and then tells them to go! We were worried that we wouldn’t get our food, but thankfully they were able to cook the remaining orders and then move on.

Our teacher told us that sometimes the stalls go to different places in the road, and even down a little side alley in order to evade the police!

IMG_8985

My dish which cost €1.30

 

So we are very happy to know that these stalls are about somewhere! Until the police cart shows up that is!

再见

爱玲

Settling Into My New Home & Job

I’ve been back in China for just over a week, but we’ve been so busy packing our things, moving and starting our new jobs, that it really feels like I’ve been here for weeks already! I’m shocked when I think I’m back only 1 week!

From arriving back in Chengdu, both myself and my fiancé were busying packing the remainder of our things, moving them into two vans we booked, moving into our new place, meeting new teachers (all male by the way, so I’m really outnumbered) … and finally work on Monday! So we were quite busy when we arrived back!

With most of our things unpacked, we can finally relax in our new apartment and area where we are living. Our university that we work in has two campuses; one for the 1st and 2nd years, and another for the older students. We live in ‘villa’ sort houses in the campus for the older students. The building where we live only has 3 floors, and they are dedicated solely to the foreign teachers; each building houses 3 teachers… so it’s refreshing not to be surrounded by people below you, above you, and either side of you! We live on the ground floor, so we just have another teacher living above us.

Apartment wise, it’s a BIG improvement to our old apartment…. our new place is absolutely HUGE! I’m pretty sure the whole of our old apartment could fit into our new bedroom. Now if I lose something, I could be looking for 10 minutes for it! Theres actually too much space now! Another good is that we actually have a U shaped sofa!!!! No more do I have to put up with our tiny, crappy, uncomfortable sofa from the old place. Our shower is fantastic (the shower head didn’t work very well in the other place), we now have a big dining table and a proper bed (instead of just a mattress on the floor).

We also have big air conditioning units in both the living area and the bedroom. Our toilet is a huge improvement too! In the old apartment, their was literally no water pressure whatsoever in our toilet, so we always needed a big bucket of water to give everything a helping hand…

The only problem with this apartment is the lack of a cooking area. Now I don’t usually cook anyway, but it’s always nice to have the option. Here we just have a portable electric stove top … and it’s actually broken. Plus we have no electric fan to get rid of the food smell. So that’s one negative thing about the place.

But apartment wise, so far I really like it!

As for my job, I feel this has been a REALLY long week! Every foreign teacher here teaches 1st year students, and whatever lesson plan we do for our first class of the week, then we use that one for the remainder of the week….. so it does become very very monotonous! I have 10 classes, so I have to repeat the exact same lesson plan 10 times. Sure it’s easy, but when it comes to the 6/7th time of doing the exact same thing, it does grate on me a little. That’s why it feels like such a long week.

Most of my students are girls, with only 4/5 boys in each class, and generally they are ok. Some of their English is atrocious though, so I really don’t know how I’m going to teach these kids anything if they can’t even get the basics right. But thankfully the school doesn’t put pressure onto the foreign teachers, so we are free in doing whatever we want in class. It’s up to the students to try and learn!

Location wise, because we are outside the city, I really do feel a bit lonely and isolated here. As I said before, I loved my previous area where I lived. Now… it takes 1 hour by bus to even get to our nearest ATM! By taxi it would take 30 minutes to get to somewhere where there is a decent amount of people…. so yeah, I do feel very isolated from everything. I don’t think I could live here for longer than 1 year.

For food, we’ve only had one dish which we have really enjoyed. Because we are located where students live, the restaurants near us aren’t exactly good quality or flavoursome. Yeah it’s cheap, but the food is very basic and I don’t particularly enjoy some dishes. Also each restaurant basically serves the exact same thing, so it’s hard to find a good meal here!

So there are some positives and negatives of moving. One good thing is that we are guaranteed money each month so we can save for our wedding and what not. We are guaranteed the same holidays as the students, and with the amount of walking and cycling I do… I’m optimistic I’ll lose some weight!

I know I’m going to feel down some days and just wishing I could leave, but I’m glad I didn’t come here by myself… I don’t think I could last!

再见

爱玲

Soon To Leave

With only 1 full day left in Ireland, I’ll soon be heading back to China again. Having been home for 2 months, I’ve sort of gotten into a routine here, and I’m finding it really hard to get my head around the fact that I’m leaving again. I’ve come to the realisation that this will be my last year in China. Theres a number of reasons why. I just sort of feel done with China now. I’ve been there 4 years and I just miss my family, Ireland, the people, and of course my Mums food.

I enjoyed my time in China a lot, it’s just now, I really really don’t want to go back. This is the first time that I’ve been like this. Being home for the summer didn’t help either, but I just don’t want to go back now. I want to be close to my family, learn Spanish, maybe live in Mexico for a while, plan on getting married… and I feel I can’t do any of that while there.

For the past two months I’ve been organising on getting a work visa, and thankfully I finally got it! There was a point where I thought I wasn’t going to get it, but I received it in the nick of time. Me and my fiancé will be teaching 1st year students in a University for a year.

I suppose the reason why we wanted the job was because we needed the money, it’s much easier to teach older students, and because we will get winter and summer holidays (whilst being paid). So there are some good benefits to the job.

However we will literally be in the middle of nowhere! The nearest metro station will be a 40 minute bus ride away. There are no real high rise buildings near the uni, and when you can drive down a road without passing any other cars, you definitely know you’re not in the city! So I’m very apprehensive about moving there.

As I said before, I love living where we live at the moment ; it’s close to everything and it’s very easy to move about. Our neighbours drive us mad, but apart from that I really love it. I think that was a big part of why I was living in China so long; the convenience of it. So now I feel like I’m leaving the one thing I stayed in China for. . . so that’s why I don’t want to return.

I’m trying to be positive but I’m afraid in case I will be stuck for a year hating it. But at least I won’t be going on my own…. I think I’d be pretty lonely!

Aisling