We’re Staying Put

So… my assumption was correct. Our Uni won’t allow us to transfer our semesters over to someone else. Before, the office said that that’s no problem, we were able to do that… so I have no idea what made them change their minds. Thank god we didn’t book  flights or anything before we found this out!

It’s sort of bad on their part though. Either it’s a yes or no from them… don’t be playing us around.

I’m not really too disappointed by it, I half expected it to be honest. I’ll miss the family but I really had no clue what I was going to do once I arrived back home. It might have been difficult to find a job, I wasn’t sure about courses that I wanted to do. Also, with my fiancee only being able to stay for a maximum of 3 months, I’d have to be without him for a couple of months.

So now we have to sort out a new job here….aaggh so I’m not rid of teaching jobs just yet unfortunately.

And anyway I do want to continue my Chinese studies here. I know in Ireland I wouldn’t do a tap of study… so at least I’ll have studied an extra semester here. Oh and MAYBE do the HSK Chinese language test!

I like to think that everything happens for a reason… so hopefully I’ll find a few good reasons why we had to stay longer here.



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!



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



Chinese Golden Week

Once again China has their annual ‘Golden Week’, where they all have 7 days holiday.. usually from the 1st to the 7th of October. During this time China becomes mad with people travelling here and there… but I certainly won’t be going anywhere!

It’s great to get a week off going to University, but unfortunately China is just too busy during holidays. Many just stay at home and relax, while others will venture out and join the swarm of other millions of people.

It’s such a pity though. I would love to go and travel during this time, but I know, from experience, everywhere you go there will most certainly be too many people. Plus the roads leading out of Chengdu will be jam packed with cars.

No, I think we’ll leave the travelling to the braver ones. We plan on relaxing, saving some money, try and study Chinese…oh and work.  Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean the children have a holiday. Of course they will have tonnes of homework and will have to come to English class.

I asked one of my 14 year old student what were her plans for the holiday. She replied ‘I’ll go with my family travelling but my teachers gave me a lot of homework, so I will have to bring my homework with me and do it during my holiday’.

The poor Chinese students never get a break from school. I really feel sorry for them. No wonder many families are sending their children abroad to study now…

Her Mum is planning on sending her to America next year to study so fortunately she will be out of the Chinese education rat race to be the best. Although she is extremely clever, with the 2nd highest exam scores of her whole school for her summer exams. So she will be fine in America.

So with no school for a whole week… when I return I will certainly not want to get up early in the morning again!





Chinese Freetime

You know, when I see a Chinese child I become very sad! They are not exactly going to have the easiest time growing up here, as I’ve found out since living here. I was chatting with one of my students during class about the topic of free time and what this means to her. Free time to her, is substantially different to what it meant to me when I was her age!

First off, they have to perform extremely well in school, getting top grades in school, and only have one full day off from school. Study this, memorise this chapter, dictate this, do this, do that….

After primary school, they have their really important exams that they must pass to be able to go into 3rd level education. I know every country has these exams, but these Chinese exams are, from what I heard, one of the most difficult in the world. The pressure that they face is unreal. Once a student told me about the exams…. she was 8 years old. Even at that age, they know that they have to do these exams eventually.

My private student actually told me she often cries in school because she is under so much pressure… she is only 10 years old.

So basically, test scores are of the most utmost important in Chinese school.

So after they are finished school and have a degree…. finding a boyfriend/ girlfriend is the next hurdle they must go through. My Chinese friend is in her early 30’s… so she is labelled  a ‘Leftover Woman’. ‘Leftover Women’ is a term for women who don’t have a boyfriend by a certain age. In China, you really don’t want to become a leftover woman. Quick, find a partner!

Ok, so you are in a relationship… what next? Marriage! Of course the  couples parents are going to be pressuring you into marriage, they want their dream grandchild! In China, you must get married first, then you are able to have a child. My Chinese friend admits she hates going home to visit her parents as they keep pestering her to find someone.

Marriage done, children done… what next… a house! You definitely will need your own house. Usually, the husband will host his Mum and Dad in their own house together. Actually, our next door neighbour comprises of the Mum, Dad, child and the Grandmother. When the Mum and Dad are working, the Grandmother minds her grandchild during the day… and from the amount of crying the little girl does… it does not seem like an easy job!

I’m not really sure how this housing relationship works… but it’s very common here so it must work fine. Although sometimes I think the grandchildren spends all their time with their grandmother/grandfather and not a lot of time with their actual parents.

Keep in mind, during getting married, having children… they must have a car, plus have a job that will pay relatively well.

Ok, I’ve gone a bit off my topic, but my poor student has all this ahead of herself, unless she moves away from China!

My student only has Saturday off school; but on this day; she’s goes to dance class for 1.3 hours, then she has lunch…. heads to piano lessons for another 1.3 hours…. THEN she has me teaching her for 1 hour.

Finally she can go home, do 2/3 hours worth of homework, and then, finally then she will have her free-time. I’m really surprised she can last the whole day!

So in short, although my student says she has enough free time (when her homework is finished) I really don’t think Chinese students do. Unfortunately they are in Chinas big bubble, without a clue about how other countries education system differs from their own, and how much pressure they actually have to deal with.

I really hope this pressure of doing well and exceeding everything slowly starts to diminish… but unfortunately I highly doubt it.



My (few) New Years resolutions.

With 2016 nearly upon us, I’ve been thinking about what my new years resolutions will be.

Study more Chinese.

This is the most important one! I really love learning Chinese, I really do,I just wish I could actually see some significant improvement! I know I learnt loads, but until I can successfully have a decent conversation in Chinese, I won’t be happy. I plan on reading Chinese books (thanks to Rafa for buying them for me), watching Chinese movies and practise my listening and speaking.

 Do the HSK 3 exam.

I’ve been putting this HSK thing off for way too long now, so this year I WILL do it! I really need to focus on the characters though, as for the level 3 exam there are a lot of characters I don’t know. As I don’t get a degree from studying in the Uni, this exam is actually physical proof of the effort I put into Chinese.

Do more exercise.

These past few months I admittedly gained some weight. My suspicions attributed to this come from buying a huge block of cheese from Metro…. and it was gone in about 4 months. We plan on doing more walking to and from Uni, so hopefully we will see a difference. Also, when we make food ourselves, our portion size is a tad on the large size for just 2 people. 

 Travel more around China. 

Although this resolutions is only a dream, as, at the moment I can’t afford it, but maybe I may get the chance this year with a stroke of luck. Ha I’ll give the Chinese Lottery a go! There are so many places to visit here, you would need a few solid months to travel around.

Last but not least, be happier.

Although I enjoy living in China, just some days I wish I was back home with my family. I enjoy my Mum’s cooking too much while I’m at home, and I will really miss clothes shopping in Penneys (Primark). I hate clothes shopping in China; the employees girls hovering beside me makes me feel like a robber in their shops. I think my problem is I reminisce too much about home and then get sad. I need to enjoy my time in China more!



Semester 1 is over!

Semester 1 is officially over. The months flew and thankfully I’ve learned quite a lot; now quite a lot means asking and answering about your family, talking about yourself, what you want to order, directions among more, so quite basic stuff. But i’ve also leaned some grammar and my listening has improved quite a lot! We also had our exams which I was very happy about, some minor mistakes with my characters (what a surprise) and I was a tad nervous with my oral speaking; talking about how I like dogs, cats, pandas and bears (they are the only animals I know) and how I don’t like Chengdu’s weather.  I now know where my level is at. Now I just need to start getting private classes for my oral speaking, as this is my weakest point.

When it comes to the speaking, thats what messes me up! Before Uni, I was a bit more relaxed about speaking, but now, I know how important the tones are, I know that if I don’t pronounce something wrong they don’t understand me, and I’m definitely more conscious of myself speaking. So, I’ve basically become that student that doesn’t talk outside of class.

When we come back from Ireland I want to try and get started in August, and hopefully this in time will improve.

Other than that, nothing else is happening, I’m still teaching my students, something that I was surprised about! I know 3 groups want to stay with me which is good.  I definitely don’t want 2 groups though; one is a girl and just doesn’t want to learn anything except do her own thing and of course watch Peppa Pig. She’s on a “10 stars = Peppa Pig” system, but I get a little stuck when she doesn’t get those 10 stars so I be a little lenient with her. I only have her once a week for 1 hour, so if they just take that 1 hour out of the week then I don’t mind teaching her at all! 🙂 Then the other group is with two 11 year old boys. One is fine, the other is mad, blowing balloons in the class, eating paper, not sitting down and not being able to concentrate. Their English is very bad for their age, so they really should listen in class. So if they get rid of the mad boy then teaching the other one is great. But unfortunately that’s not the case. So thats the other group I don’t want.

 I hope to organise my classes with them so that I can work 3 days a week instead of 4, as I will have some extra hours on Saturday in my old campus, plus I want to study my Mandarin more. From the second semester book there are more characters to learn! It’s a never ending battle! So if the PA’s do that I’ll be very grateful! 

Also, there are 7 days until home time. At this stage I’m getting fed up with the waiting. I can’t imagine the wait expectant mothers have, 9 months! But I know the week will fly by, with no Uni and just working, Wednesday will come around quick enough.

Weather in Ireland seems ok, so I’m just hoping it will continue while we are there. But I really don’t want to think about coming back to China. Aw I know it’s going to be bad….. 

Sometimes I really don’t know how I still live in China. From the people who have literally NO, and I mean NO common-sense at all, ( I could make a list of things I saw that prove this) to the people who push and shove you, somedays it really does drive me mad. The only thing that is getting me through it is the studying. It’s not all bad, but when you live in China there are definitely moments when you think ‘f**k this, I’m going home!’

But lets not think about that for a while!