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

 

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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

My Psychic Card Reading

My Psychic Card Reading

Recently my sister went to visit a psychic. She really enjoys going to see them and it makes her happy. My Dad on the other hand, he isn’t too fussed on them. And being much older, I suppose he doesn’t really have any reason to visit them! Unless they will tell him he will win the lotto!

So my sister told me that the lady she went to would be doing a presentation and doing a short 10 minute card reading for the people who came. I’ve only visited 2 other psychics before, so I decided to see what this lady would say!

The first lady I went to was only for 20 minutes… and I honestly forget what she said. One thing I remember her saying was that I would be travelling to somewhere near Australia (I went to China in the end). I was adamant that I was going to America, so when she said that, I was a bit surprised.

The second lady is quite famous in the psychic world, but again I forget what she said! I remember she was good anyway!

So I really did try and remember what the most recent psychic told me; and I was pleasantly surprised!

Before she started on her 1-1 clients, she asked a few people to pick out 3 cards while thinking of the question they wanted answered. I volunteered and picked out 3. When she got to me, she answered my question and she added “I feel your partner doesn’t have an Irish accent. I feel he has a different accent to you”. And she was perfectly right, as my fiancé is from Mexico. My sister and Dad were there sitting with me and they were also surprised!

So I had to wait ages to see her again 1-1. Finally I did, and she was so nice! We used different cards and I had to ask different questions and what not. Then we moved onto my future and she spoke to me about what the cards that I picked out represented. She eased my worries on some issues and all in all I was happy I went. I know a lot of people think it’s a load of crap, but if it makes the person happy and more content then what’s the harm?

As it was only a 10 minute session, time just flew by…. I’d love to visit her for a proper session, but unfortunately she is all booked up while I’m home.

So yes, it was a pleasant evening that I had with my sister and Dad… but there was no mention of winning the lottery unfortunately!

再见

爱玲 (Aisling)

A Trip To The Capital; Dublin

Even though my hometown is about (1.5 hour by bus) to Dublin, you would think that I would go up and visit more often, but surprisingly I rarely go! Since I’ve arrived home, I’ve had to go up twice for work reasons, but it definitely wasn’t for a visit! I did what I needed to do, then got the bus back.

I’ve never really thought much about living in Dublin while I was living in Ireland. I just never thought of it like that. Since living in China and living in such a big city as Chengdu, I’ve become used to large cities. Before leaving Ireland, I always thought Dublin was a big city. I’ve never had anything to compare it with, so I naively thought it was big.

My perception now is quite different!

But my two times having to go up, I’ve realised that I wouldn’t mind living there; it’s compact, walkable, not too busy, a lot of places to eat, and it just seems like a nice city to live in.

But… of course there are downsides; it’s a ridiculously expensive city, and rent is very very high… too high for me to afford! So I don’t think I would be able to live there unfortunately!

I think the last time I was in Dublin was a few years ago, and this time I noticed that there are so many more little cafes open! The ones with tables and chairs outside. There are loads now in the city! I do like this, but Dublin isn’t exactly like some city in Spain or France… the weather isn’t ideal for sitting outside. But yeah, there are loads more of these places about!

I was also surprised by how many foreigners there were! Groups of Italians, groups of Spanish, Chinese…. it was crazy! I suppose that I’m so used to seeing mostly Chinese people in Chengdu, that it’s strange to see people of other nationalities! I’m sure many are studying English here.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how small the city actually is! Having to walk from one place to another, I was surprised about how much distance I covered while looking at google maps. In Chengdu, I wouldn’t get very far (distance wise) by walking. So I suppose this showed me how small it is!

So Dublin has changed a little since the last time I’ve been here, plus my perception of it has changed, for the better I think!

再见

爱玲

Enjoying Time With Family

Enjoying Time With Family

I’ve been back in Ireland for just over a week and so far it’s been a mix of peace and quiet…. then all hell breaks loose once the nephews are over, but it’s great to see them and play with them! I can now play more with my nephew, who is 6 years old; having me race him up and down our garden, doing tumbles, playing frisbee and of course hide and seek! I can now have more of a grown up conversation with him compared to the last time I was over.

My youngest nephew is now around 2.5 years old, and although he’s still not speaking, he knows exactly what I’m saying to him! At the moment he’s slow at talking, but he’s trying to make out words; banana is ‘ana’ for example.  So he’s trying at least!

With my fiancé in Mexico, it’s nice to be with the family and be like ‘old times’.  Although I miss him, I’m enjoying my time with the family.

Being back in my own bed means I’ve been having really good night sleeps. In Chengdu I never feel rested after a night’s sleep; maybe it’s our rock hard bed, but here I sleep really well. I forgot how super comfy my bed is!

And the weather has actually been better than Mexico for once! I hear it’s raining, thundery and sometimes cold where my fiancé is, but yesterday the weather in Ireland was fantastic! So so far it’s not too bad! Anyway I don’t mind if it’s not too good; I’m not visiting just for the weather.

So so far I’m having a lovely time. I’ve been so used to having just my fiancé as company, so it’s nice to be able to talk with the family and interact with them. I suppose I just got so used to having only my fiancé about in China, so when I came back here, I realised how much I missed having others company.

I’ll enjoy it while it lasts!

再见

爱玲

Why are you always looking at me?

Why are you always looking at me?

The longer I have lived in China, I’ve noticed that less and less Chinese people stare at me here. When I first arrived, everyone on the subway would gawk at me, some might even take photos! Now however, with the influx of more foreigners, this (thankfully) is disappearing!

But not completely!

So yesterday, myself and my fiancé decided to go to Walmart to pick up some things for home. We were looking at some flasks and I turn and see a worker down the bottom of the aisle looking at me. So anyway, I continue browsing.

I look around and he’s still there. Staring.

So I say to my fiancé “That worker over there keeps looking at me, we’ll go to the next aisle and see if he follows”.

We go to the next aisle and low and behold he appears!

I’m getting a bit annoyed at this stage. So back I go to the flask section, waiting to see the worker.

What a surprise, he appears again….but this time at the other end of the aisle.

That’s it, I decide to walk over to him. At this point he’s looking at me while talking to another lady, but I don’t care. I go up to him and ask him in Chinese “Why are you always looking at me?”… He replies he’s not. Haha the face of him when he realised this foreigner was coming over to him!

I think he was shocked that I actually confronted him. But it worked! I didn’t see him lurking around again!  haha well maybe he was but did it with a bit more stealth this time! When someone is standing right in the middle of the aisle gawking at you, it’s not very conspicuous!

For me, it drives me mad when people do this. I just want to go and browse… and not have someone staring at me thinking I’m going to steal something. I hate that feeling. I’m not going to take anything. Just leave me alone and let me shop.

Did he think I was going to steal something? Was he just curious at what I was looking at? Was he just looking at me?? Do I even look like a thief????

Usually this sort of thing doesn’t really bother me, but when someone is constantly staring at me and making me feel like I’m doing something wrong, then that needs to stop. If he thought I was stealing, then keep an eye on me through the security cameras. Just don’t make it obvious!

That’s why I never go to markets here; every time I pick up something I feel as if the worker is thinking “Oh… oh she’s going to steal that!!!” Haha plus they would most likely rip me off with their hiked up price.

So anyway, that was my shopping experience in Walmart. Usually there’s no problem, but maybe yesterday I looked more a thief than other days!

Check out my other (not so nice) Walmart (yes, the same Walmart) experience here: Skipping The Queue = One Angry Irish Girl

再见

爱玲