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

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

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

The Way I Speak

Since moving away from home, teaching English and meeting my boyfriend… I have found out words and phrases that I’ve commonly used back home have slowly been disappearing….and instead, I’ve began to think in a more ‘American’ way.

First of all, the books that I teach my students with are full of American words like ‘trash can’. Then my boyfriend has also learned American English.  So these are both influences.

There are tonnes of words and phrases that people in Ireland use quite regularly, like ‘grand’ ‘shite’ ‘Mam instead of Mum/Mom, the phrase ‘I’m after (doing something)’. ‘Giving out (to someone)’ We also say ‘yous’ instead of ‘you all’.

Of course my students will definitely not understand me if I say any of these!

What’s worse is when I am with my boyfriend I start thinking American English. For us ‘pavement/ footpath’ is ‘sidewalk’… so in my head, when I see someone walking on the street, now I automatically think ‘Oh they should be walking on the sidewalk!’

Then I think ‘Oh no… FOOTPATH!! I MEANT FOOTPATH!’

Instead of saying ‘crisps’ for things like Lays…I sometimes say ‘chips’.

And during teaching, I’ve given up saying the word ‘sweets’ and just say ‘candy’ now… they don’t know the meaning of ‘sweets’, and they always forget when I tell them anyway.

And actually, the same goes for my boyfriend now!

Because we spend a lot of time together and he listens to me everyday….. he sometimes has blurted out ‘Mam’ instead of ‘Mom’, ‘tree’ instead of ‘three’ and now he is saying ‘crisps’ instead of ‘chips’!!

I’ve also noticed some phrases that I commonly use which he has picked up on… like ‘Did yeh?’ I’ve also think that he has lost some of the American pronunciation of some words like ‘matter’.

It’s strange how it all works!

For me, I suppose my speaking is changing because firstly, I don’t meet any other Irish people, so I’m not continuously hearing my own native accent. Second, I’m constantly aware of my voice and if for example I say in my native accent ‘brown’.. my students won’t understand me… so I have to change how I say some words so they understand.

Lastly, my boyfriend speaks American English, so I’ve become used to hearing certain words more than others from him.

haha whats worse though is that I feel my English speaking has gotten worse. I forget certain words in English and some of my grammar gets mixed up. I don’t know why.. but I think it’s to do with the fact that I am constantly listening to non-natives speaking grammatically wrong English… maybe some of that bad English gets stuck in my head!! Also there are words in English that I rarely use anymore. In Ireland I would hear them more often so I would remember them. But here… at work I hear the same English spoken over and over again.

Well, I HOPE those reasons are true… or else I have no idea why my English is getting worse.

It’s funny how your accent changes with different environments and who you are with. I just hope that when the time comes to head home to Ireland, my Irish words and phrases will come flooding back to me!

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

Chengdu Vs Xiamen

chengdu

Chengdu

xiamen

Xiamen

Here are a few differences which I found between Chengdu and Xiamen. Because Chengdu is situated in the West of China, while Xiamen is in the East, it has a more Westernised feel to it.

People walk much faster in Xiamen. Chengdu is known as being a relaxed city… they actually walk too slow sometimes!

Because Chengdu has an army of street cleaners and sweepers, it’s really quite a clean city, whereas Xiamen is unfortunately much dirtier. It’s a shame; the weather is great and it’s such a touristy place, you would imagine they would keep it cleaner.

Xiamen is definitely more expensive. Rent is also ridiculously expensive… but also food and drink also costs more than Chengdu. Also, during the Summer, they increase the prices of things for tourists. We got charged more for bananas we bought at a stall because we were ‘tourists’.

I was really surprised to find out that there were not many foreigners in Xiamen. Instead it was bustling with Chinese tourists, mainly from Taiwan. I heard that many Westerners leave Xiamen during the summer, but to me it was strange not to see many. There are increasingly more Western people coming to Chengdu, so you are bound to see one now and again.

Because Chengdu is in the West, the people there are kind of sheltered from the influences of the Western culture. This means that they are still sort of surprised when they see a Western person. They would rather shout “HALLO” to you when they have actually passed you….instead of saying it directly to you. In Xiamen, they are definitely not afraid to try and speak English to you. They are braver.

I thought Chengdu had a lot of fruit.. but Xiamen definitely has more.. and it’s more delicious! The mangos are huge…. and they have a much nicer juicier taste. Also the bananas taste much better.

I think because many Chinese tourists visit Xiamen, both myself and my boyfriend have noticed that the Chinese people there look different to the people in Chengdu. In Chengdu, they have rounder faces (I think anyway), whereas in Xiamen, they have a different looking face. I’m not sure how to explain it, but a lot of women have more oval faces… they just look different to Chengdu people. I’m guessing it’s because there are a different mix of people in Xiamen.

Chengdu is overflowing with e-bikes, we also have one too…. because they are just so handy and cheap to get around with, and because the ground is flat, e-bikes are everywhere. In Xiamen, there are not as many. I think Xiamen has a different regulation with having an e-bike, so not as many people have them. From what I’ve seen, it’s usually just for people who have a business; so they can transport their goods easier.

I missed Sichuan food so much in Xiamen! And no Hot-Pot to be seen! For people who don’t know what Hot-Pot is, it’s a large pot with simmering oil and spices. You put different food into it to cook it in the spicy oil; like  sliced potatoes, boiled eggs, meat. It’s great to eat during the Winter. In Xiamen, there was no Hot-Pot restaurant to be seen. That is one thing that I will miss if I move to Xiamen.

Coming from Sichuan, where most of the food is spicy…to eating sweet food from Xiamen is quite strange! They prefer to eat food that is more sweet in taste. The food really reminded me of the Chinese food I would get from our Chinese take-away shop in Ireland. The taste is really similar. In Xiamen you could order ‘Sweet & Sour Pork’, whereas in Chengdu you would never see that on the menu. Also, the food in Xiamen is not as oily as in Sichuan. Sichuan food can be too oily sometimes.

One thing that really surprised me was that shops in Xiamen would play Western English music. It was so weird to hear! In Chengdu, you rarely hear English music… they always have Chinese music playing in the background. I’m not a huge fan of Chinese music… so it was nice to hear English music being played in shops.

There are too many people in Chengdu! Everywhere you walk there are people. Compared to Chengdu, Xiamen is so so quiet! You could walk in a park and not meet one person the entire time. It was great walking around the island.

No Tea-houses in Xiamen. We were walking in a park and I noticed ‘Huh… there are no tea-houses here’. In Chengdu, you could find 4/5 of them in one park; people sitting for hours drinking tea and chatting or playing Mahjong. In Xiamen however, this tradition simply doesn’t exit.

Those are some differences that I noticed between the two cities… If I remember any more I will add them.

Xiamen is a much more beautiful than Chengdu, but Chengdu has more charm I think. It is more traditional and has kept more of it’s old culture than Xiamen. Xiamen has become more Westernised. I love both places in different ways!

再见!

爱玲

Methods On Learning Chinese: Week 1

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I’ve started a 12 hour course in order to improve my method of learning Chinese. At the moment one of my methods is translating my textbook into English (or Chinglish), then re-translating it back into Mandarin. That way I can see if my translation is the same as in the book. But I’m obviously missing something.. as my Chinese still isn’t what I’d like it to be.

So last week was our first week of this 12 course we signed up to. Our first class we basically went through the phonics and tones.. easy enough. I’ve studied this in college already… but it is great to learn this stuff from a non-native person. The two guys that run the company know which phonics are difficult for foreigners, so they take a different approach in how we should learn it.

The most difficult ones for me are the ‘r’, ‘x’, ‘j’, ‘q’ sounds. They made an extra effort yesterday to make sure we were saying them correctly… ie showing us where to put our tongue when pronouncing these sounds.

Tone wise, I’m ok with these.

For homework, they gave us 100 cards of Anki, which we have to listen to and answer the correct pinyin and tones.

Oh, and I’ve found out that my college exams will be held next week! We have 12 topics altogether.. so my plan is to study 2 a day… ha but we will see how that goes!

再见!

爱玲