A Gift From Work

As I’m living in China, I’ve unfortunately had to work on Christmas day. Because I’m working in a University, there’s no hope in hell that I’d be able to take it off. It’s just a normal day for the students and other teachers! However If I was working in a private English company, they would (usually) allow every foreign teacher a day off.

So to make it at least a little more Christmassy, I decided that for this week we would watch the film ‘Elf’ in class together. I needed to talk to students one on one, so the others watched the film while I talked to each student. So it was an easy class for them!
I’ve now watched the second half of ‘Elf’ 10 times…… so I don’t want to see that film for another 5/6 years!!! That’s one problem of watching a film; you have to watch it 10 more times for every class!

During Monday I received a message from the school asking me to go and pick up my Christmas gift. Gift?? I’m actually getting a gift from the school!!! God that’s nice of them! They still haven’t given us a hoover that we’ve needed since we started in September, so I was surprised I actually received 500yuan/ €65 in a hongbao (red envelope)!

IMG_E9416

STILL no hoover though!

But anyway, it was a nice surprise to receive! In my old company I’d most likely get a small flower with a greeting attached to it…. so my hongbao is way better!

So next week we all have a week off from uni and then we only have 3 more weeks left until the semester is over! I’ve been complaining that it’s going too slow, but now I’m nearing the finish line at last!

Now I need to think about what I’ll spend my 500yuan on! Definitely not a hoover anyway! I’ll keep badgering the school about that.

Aisling

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The Advantages of Working in a University in China

The Advantages of Working in a University in China

Whilst living in China, I’ve worked in both Universities and also private schools, so I thought I’d share some advantages of working as an English teacher in a University. In China, these are sought after jobs, so regard yourself lucky if you successfully managed to get a Uni job here!

1. Guaranteed money each month.

So in a Uni job, you are guaranteed that the students will and more importantly HAVE to come to class. (if it a mandatory class and not an elective that is),You don’t need to worry ‘Oh I wonder will many people come to class today?’ In my current Uni they have to come or else they will fail. However in my first Uni job, I had a few elective groups, and a lot of students skipped it. So if you manage to get secure a job, make sure you know if it’s a mandatory class or elective class. Mostly they will be mandatory though!

2. Low hours

At the moment, I teach 10 classes of 90minutes each. Plus miraculously for this semester I only work 3 days a week. (Although one day I work from 8am to 8:40pm which is a LONG day) but in Uni jobs, you usually will have less teaching hours than private schools.  It does mean a little less money than private schools, but I think it’s still a good deal.

3. Students are older

Although sometimes I feel this is a curse, generally you can have a laugh with the students and get to know one another better than if you are teaching older students.

4. Holidays

Of course Uni jobs are well known for their long holiday breaks, plus they are fully paid. So you don’t have to feel guilty about booking time off for going on a trip!

5. Lesson Plans

In my current job, I only have to make 1 lesson plan, and that does me for the whole week! Yes it does get monotonous after a while, but I know some teachers HATE doing lesson plans for each lesson.

5. Other benefits

In our Uni, they provided us with a huge apartment which is rent free, they pay for internet, half of electricity, water, give us €20 each month for food allowance (it doesn’t sound a lot but when lunch is about €1 in the canteen then it’s plenty. Plus they pay us a bonus for starting the contract and another for completing it.

So all in all, Uni jobs are pretty good! I know every Uni is different but I don’t think I’ve heard of a person working in a bad one. But read your contract closely about what benefits they offer!

Deciding to visit Guangzhou

Deciding to visit Guangzhou

Although I have to put up with some VERY LAZY students, there are a few benefits with working in a University in China. The first and most important one is holidays!

With our university, they agreed on working some days where the rest of the people in China would have off. Then they clump all these days that we worked and then we would have a week off. Not too bad for a Uni that is very badly organised!

So in December we will have a week off for New Years and we’ve decided to spend it in Guangzhou. We were debating where to go but because it will be winter and we really don’t want to go to the north of China as it will be absolutely freezing, we thought we’d better find somewhere in the south where it will be a bit warmer than Chengdu! I hope anyway!

It’ll be nice to see the city and try the food there, which is much sweeter than Sichuan food. As we plan on leaving  China next summer, (yeah I know I said that loads of times and I’m STILL here)  we’d like to try and visit a few places before we go. Obviously China is a huge place and it would be rather difficult to visit every single place of interest, but we’ve managed to see a few sightseeing places and cities!

So that is the plan! When I first came to China the thought of travelling in this huge, non english speaking country was very daunting. Now however, we have enough Chinese to get by and we know what to roughly expect when we travel around. Plus in the East of the country a lot more people speak English so it’s handier to travel there than in Chengdu, where literally no one speaks it!

Every city in China is different so we’re excited to see what Guangzhou has to offer!

再见

爱玲 (Aisling)

 

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.

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

 

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