Our last few days.

In less than a week we’ll be back in China. I’m in mixed emotions with this. I’m looking forward to returning to our apartment and knowing that that space is ‘ours’; instead of living in my parents house. Second of all, I can’t wait to get back to Uni and start studying again. Finally, I’ll enjoy eating the Chinese food again!

But of course I’m going to miss home and Ireland. The lack of people here, my Mum’s cooking, the green fields, and of course my family and friends. I know I won’t be back to Ireland for a while, so my two nephews will be even bigger!

When I decided to move to China for the internship, I never thought I’d be living there for the next few years, so I didn’t really think about family and them visiting me. I do now though! It’s a pity I live too far away from them. If I decided to move to somewhere in Europe perhaps, it would be different. But I may make the most of being in China when I’m there; visiting other countries and studying Mandarin.

Since arriving back from Paris, my oldest nephew is always asking when are we going back to China. When he see’s us leaving, say to go to town, he always asks ‘Where are you going?’ ‘Are you coming back?’ It breaks my heart when he asks these. Because soon I’ll have to say ‘No, we won’t be back’.

But we’re enjoying our stay here, relaxing and enjoying time with the family! Back to the madness of China soon though!

再见!

Aisling.

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My Job Interview.

I was searching through GoChengdoo; a website based on Chengdu. You can buy and sell things, you can see what events are on, and search for jobs. I found a job that was pretty near to where I live now so I decided to contact them.

So I got a call from them and had a chat, me not knowing that this was in fact the first stage of the interview process. He then text me asking for an interview. So I met them, arriving ridiculously early because I wasn’t sure how long it would take me. But, rather be too early than too late I suppose. So the interview went well, and they showed me around the place.

After a few days, I get another text asking for a demo! I thought ‘god, this is a long interview process.’ So today I had the demo and thankfully it turned out quite well!

As everyone is, I was a little nervous. They gave me a book and gave me a few minutes to prepare a demo class, of just 15 minutes, so that was easy. I just treated them as any other student, playing games with them and teaching new vocab. After the time was up we discussed the demo.

I was so surprised that they really enjoyed it. They interviewed a lot of people and saw a lot of demos, but apparently mine was the best. I was shocked! Me? All I did was play some games with them. I like to be more interactive in my teaching and not having them sit down for the entire 45 minutes.

I remember going for my first demo interview. It was after I was finished my internship and I was looking for a new job for when I came back from Ireland. I remember I didn’t know what to do in the demo. I remember making silly mistakes and generally, not knowing how to teach! Of course I taught older students before that, but It’s totally different when you’re teaching young children and there are not 50 in the class. I remember one man from a company saying to me ‘Some things need touching up on, but there is potential.’ I’ll never forget when he said that! I of course was happy. Potential? I have potential!

So after a year of teaching younger children, I was much more prepared this time. From back then, I’ve actually learned quite a lot. And that, you know, I’m an alright teacher.

They said I will hear back from them soon about it, but just the fact that I did a good job and they liked it made me a bit more confident in my teaching skills. For me, one of the most important thing is to make the student feel comfortable. I must admit I’m quite good at making students at ease in the classroom. Making them like you helps the class go better. If they don’t like you, you’ll know. . . and they’ll MAKE you know.

So from this morning of being quiet and withdrawn, thinking about this demo interview, to coming out the other side feeling proud of myself that I did a good job is good enough for me. Even If I don’t get the job, I know that I can do demo interviews ok and I can perform ok.

But… I’ll still wait for that phone call.

Aisling.

All By Myself… Don’t Wanna Be, All By Myself….

Joey with 'All By Myself' music.

Joey from Friends, all by himself.

 

Happy Birthday to my blog! One years old! I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for that length of time. I never thought I would have still been writing in it. You see many blogs that slowly wither away, turning into dormant blogs, hoping that one day they might come back to life. I thought mine would go down that route, that I would become too busy to write in it. But no, thankfully I’ve stuck to it, prioritising a time to it every week.
But what a year makes! That girl from one year ago has surely grown up a bit. She had to heart-breakingly walk away from people she loved to get to where she is now. But thinking back, it has been the right decision. Everything has changed.

But, if someone sat me down last May, with a lovely Latte and a bun, and told me:

“Ok Aisling, you’re going to go to China and leave your family, boyfriend and friends’ behind. You’re going to live in Chengdu by yourself. You’ll have your own apartment, but you’ll have to pay for everything yourself, and you won’t be able to ask your family to help you. You’ll have to get your own food, work a full time job, and have 2 days off a week, like regular working people. Oh, you will also have to get yourself up at 7:30am, no asking Mum or Dad to get you up. No one will bring you tea in bed either.
Some days you’ll be lonely and you’ll want to go home, but you won’t be able to do that. There will be things that will happen and you won’t be able to go and cry to someone, hoping they will fix your problems. You will have to fix them yourself. You’re not going to understand anyone, and everyday people will stare at you because you look different… But you need to do this to become a better person….. now is that ok Aisling?”

I would have said “NO way!”

Too. Much. Trouble.

Need. My. Family/Boyfriend.

Live.On.My.Own? I. Will. Die.

Seriously though, that would have put me off living abroad. But thankfully, I kind of erased those parts from my head, ignoring them in a way. I don’t want to think that I wouldn’t get tea in bed from my lovely parents, no one will cook my food for me. That I, of all people, will have to get MYSELF up for work. That jobs for Mum and Dad. As goes for making me food, washing my clothes, and generally keeping me alive and presentable to others.

I have to do ALL THAT…. By MYSELF?! That’s a big ask.

But when your thrown in by yourself, you have to do it. Simple as. I learned that.

Now….. I have to go wash my dishes… they’ve been decomposing a week now.

Aisling

 

Public Holidays

 

This weekend the Chinese had a public holiday. That meant: no classes. Because its a private company, we have to work during public holidays. Usually my weekends are jammed packed with classes, so it was really strange to see that I only had 1 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. Although it was great that I didn’t have to teach, it also means I won’t be getting paid… but I won’t say no to the offer of a day free of teaching.

I also should be heading to Hong Kong this week for my visa. Although I’m looking forward to it, I know it’s going to be expensive, meaning what money I did save up, I’ll most probably spend a good chunk of it over there. Another teacher needs to get his visa so we’re going over together. Now I plan on doing some sightseeing while I’m there, because god knows when I’ll be back there again, but I think I’m the only one who is planning that…

It’ll also be the first time that I’ve been away from Zhonghai since I’ve arrived here, so when I return, will the feeling of being ‘home’ hit me.

When I was here for my internship, it didn’t really feel like ‘home’. The apartment didn’t feel like ‘my’ apartment, because I was sharing and I didn’t pay rent. I also didn’t feel like I ‘belonged’. Yeah I worked, but it didn’t feel intimate. I worked with hundreds of teachers… I knew none of them. I was swamped by students. There weren’t any other foreign teachers near me. (apart from my room-mate).

This time around I feel like I belong. I live in my own apartment and pay my own rent. I don’t rely on anyone but myself. I work in a place with great people and everyone is in the same boat. Everyone helps each other and there is absolutely no bitchiness. I’ve heard that in other campuses there is a lot of bitchiness going around. Every one of my colleagues is so nice and helpful. The students actually seem to like me and I have a great time with them. Most of the time they are laughing at me because I do something silly; but that’s the only way to bring out their own silly side.

I remembered when I worked in the college and thinking “It’s all so serious”. I was jealous of the other interns; they worked with children and pre-teens, meaning plenty of games and laughter. I worked with older students and the whole atmosphere felt subdued and serious. Students were studying for exams, and the whole college took rules a little too seriously.

Now there’s laughter, joking, chatting, plenty of games, and generally a happier atmosphere. Of course there are days where I just want to stay in bed, and not have to go in and (try to) teach some particular students. But generally it’s ok.

I suppose the only way to see what kind of teaching you like is to experience them all, both in public and private teaching. You won’t know until you try.

Aisling

I hate being sick….

I think being sick is one of the most hardest and challenging times when your living abroad. Last Friday night, I was hit down with one of the most painful stomach cramps ever. Since that night until, well last night (Wednesday night), it had continued. Thankfully it seems to have gone now, with food poisoning being at the top of my accusation list. When I feel bad, I self-diagnose… and the symptoms that I had (vomiting and stomach cramps) where there. Living in China also added to this conclusion, as many restaurants here have completely different views on hygiene compared to Western countries.  If you’re going to  visit China, you’re gonna be shocked at the state of some of the restaurants.

I even had to call in sick to work, TWICE! And that is rare for me. I would rather go in, see how I am, then go home. With me, the pain would be there constant all night, starting from around 9pm until morning, where it would gradually ease off. At 3pm in the day, I’m totally fine, nothing wrong with me at all… until 9pm comes once more… It was a vicious circle.

The past two nights have been different though. I bought a hot water bottle from Walmart (they are totally different to the ones at home. These aren’t rubber, meaning they get cold in like 1 hour and a half) and that helped the pain, which was gradually easing. Yet during the day, there would be a mild pain in my stomach and feeling nauseous. It was so strange.

Two of the Chinese teachers from the campus brought me to a chemist and got me tablets, where I have to take 6 a day! I have just about managed 4 a day.

Two other teachers in the campus also had stomach cramps and were feeling unwell… could it be an air-born thing? I have no idea. So on Saturday, because I called in sick, my Chinese friend made a surprise visit to see me, bringing long lasting milk (the milk is actually from ASDA), bread, apples, kumquats (very small oranges), honey (it’s good for your health, he stated)  and 3 baozi buns (steamed buns). I love baozi buns, especially the ones with the red bean paste filling. He showed me how to make them… simply by steaming them over boiling water in a wok. Now I know how to make them when my visitors from Ireland come to see me. Now that’s a BIG hint to some of my readers…I’m here for a year…. come visit me!

Anyway…so yesterday, he came over again and set up the wifi for me. I have absolutely no idea how technology works, and I have bad luck with it, so I let him set it up. Oh and the lack of Chinese would make it impossible for me to set it up anyway.  After a number of phone-calls to the internet company, it was set up. It is GREAT. He also ordered bed covers for my bed, so now my life is complete. No more freezing out in the sitting room on the computer… I can now relax in my lovely bedroom with a nice quilt-cover.

Compared to starting off in my internship, that was a piece of cake. This time round, there has been more hurdles. From my Chinese visa problems even before I LEFT Ireland, my visa card getting blocked and having no money, and getting sick, it’s not been plain sailing. But, I’d rather them happen now, than when I was first on the internship. If all this happened to me the first time I came to China, I think I would have been more stressed out.

This time round, I’m more accustomed to the environment, I know what to expect and how to deal with it. And I know I have people here to help me when I need them.

But I PRAY to my angels I don’t get sick again… I have no one to bring me tea in bed. 😦

Aisling.

Teaching Review and…I’M BACK!

index
I’m Back! Its been a while, but after the disaster with my visa debit card ( another post) and only just getting the internet, my blogging has unfortunately been at a standstill…. Yet no more! I shall (hopefully if I’m not too terribly busy) be posting new blogs up here again. During my time with no internet, I’ve written 2 posts at once, so I’ll post them together. Enjoy!

Teaching Review

Since January, I have signed a contract to work with another company for 1 year. This means I’m actually a FULL TIME teacher, with an actual wage this time. From September 2013 to the beginning of January 2014, I was on a teaching internship for one semester.

I know reviews are especially good for people who are thinking of joining a company; one of the reasons why I applied for the job I now have is because I met a person who works there and he told me that It was a good place to work, so I know personal experience is important.

The company, i-to-i is a company that I found online. I knew one of my friends was doing a TEFL course online and was going to Japan to teach, so I researched and found this one. After completing the 120 hours online, I decided to apply for the Teach & Travel China Programme which was advertised on their website.

You can choose the China, Vietnam, Thailand or Poland internship. Each programme starts on 2 different semesters. Speaking about the China internship, programmes start in February (Winter Programme) and August (Summer Programme). I chose the August programme, where I was shipped out with about 150 people to Beijing. Most of the participants were English, but there were about 20 Australians, 14 Irish, 4 Canadians, 1 American in my group. There were many more that arrived 1 month earlier to do their 140 TEFL from a lot of European countries.

The first week was amazing, where we saw the Great Wall, Acrobatics Show, Saw the Beijing Olympic Stadium and ate Peking Duck in Beijing. We then travelled to Harbin for our orientation. It was great being with a big group of people where every day you would talk and hang around with different people in the group. Everyone was there for the same reason; to do something different.

After that we were sent to our teaching locations. Around 50 people went to Sichuan, where people were placed in Chengdu, and about 50 went to Guangzhou, where most people here were placed in Guangdong. The rest went to Beijing, Harbin, Inner Mongolia, and near Shanghai.

Of course you’re going to hear bad reviews about companies, I’ve even read about them myself, about Teach and Travel China and thought “did I make a mistake?”, but as I say, everyone’s experience is different. Some people might have had a bad school, living conditions, bad neighbourhood and so on. Luckily, I was very fortunate; I had a good apartment, the school was fine and nothing major happened. My location however wasn’t great, where I was 1 hour away from the city centre.

So here are the good things and bad things about doing the i-to-I and Teach & Travel China Internship.

Good
• People are in the same boat as your-self.
• You’ll most likely be placed with someone. This will be living together and in the same schools, living together but different schools, or living by yourself but being near other interns.
• You won’t go through it alone. There will be like 150 other people starting their teaching at the same time so you won’t be going through it by yourself.
• Apartment and school is guaranteed for you. There is no worrying about finding schools.
• Guaranteed a minimum of 2 hours Mandarin/Cantonese lessons.
• Everything is provided for you in the apartment; kettle, cups, quilts…
• Given an advisor at your school to help you throughout your internship.
• Don’t have to pay rent or bills. (that’s if you don’t go over your bill limit)
• Maximum of 15 teaching hours.

Bad
• Expensive. From applying for it, to getting your visa, the cost adds up.
• Might be placed with someone you don’t get on with… and your stuck with them for 4 months.
• Don’t know where in China you will be placed. This means it’s difficult to pack when you don’t know the climate you’re going to live in. You could also be placed in a really remote area.
• Don’t know what age group you’ll be teaching. If you pick 7-14 age for instance, you may not get it.
• Wages aren’t great. You can live off it, but you can’t go mad spending.

These are my own opinions about the good and bad points about the internship. There are plenty of people I’m sure would say “ NEVER DO IT, IT WAS THE WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE!”. I’m sure some people did have a terrible time on their internship, I’ve read about them. But on my own accounts and experience, if nothing majorly goes wrong with your internship, you’re blessed.

Because I’ve had a good experience of my internship, I would tell people to do it. It lets you have a taste of teaching but it also lets you live in a new country, even just for a few months.

The choice is up to you…

Aisling.

Hello From Beijing

Finally I’ve made it to China! Staying at the Happy Dragon Hostel which is fine, the employees are lovely, helping us bring in our gigantic bags from the taxi, and generally being friendly and outgoing towards us. I’m staying with 4 other girls from the internship so I’m getting to know them!.

So tonight is a quiet night, I’m so tired and jet-lagged It will be an early night, hopefully we (the ones who arrived today) will be more sociable tomorrow night! Might go and see if we can find a place to eat, really want to try those dumplings, although apprehensive because of the large variety, aka insects, dog, cat… I could end up eating.

Beijing itself was a total surprise. I imagined it to be traditional, old style Beijing, with its characteristic buildings, and generally what you would see in the media. It’s actually so developed, plenty of new cars being seen and gorgeous hotels littering every street. Large streets host huge imposing shops such as the American company ‘Forever 21’. Stares from Chinese were of course abundant, with the odd one taking a very noticeable video of us lounging on a bench jetlagged. (No idea what they will do with that video)

We also went to see Tiananmen Square. Although impressive, it was very busy, meaning we couldn’t truly appreciate it to the max. We weren’t sure if we had to pay to go further in, but maybe we will go and visit it again.

Everyone in the group seems to be bonding… of course many are closer because they arrived earlier in the week, but everyone I met so far seems friendly. There are more people to arrive during the coming days, another couple of Irish people arriving too which will be good!

Not sure what is planned for tomorrow. A good night sleep will do the world of good. Wasn’t in great form to do much because I was just so tired. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Oh also Beijing is HOT. I knew it would be hot… but its sticky, humid and being surrounded by millions of people makes it 10 times worse to actually walk around the city.

Roll on tomorrow and see what it brings.

Aisling.