This Time Last Year

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The University where I worked at

It’s strange to think that this is the first September that I’ve been in Ireland for 5 years. Every September I’ve been in China. It’s not very significant but it means a lot to me. It’s change, and that’s good.

This time last year I started teaching University students. I was making PPT’s for them and getting used to waking up at 6:30am, work at 8am. I was trying to learn all the students names and where my classes were for teaching every class. Little did I know that in a years time I would be at home enjoying time with my family and getting ready to go to Mexico. It’s a nice feeling to know that my life has changed (in a good way) from 12 months ago.

As for teaching and after my crappy students from last semester, I’ve gone off teaching altogether. I really want to try something new. I’m really fed up of teaching now. The students did a good job with that!

I think private teaching would be ok in the future. When I worked in a private company I had some great students and I really enjoyed their classes. But first I’ll try and do something that I want do, and then maybe for extra income I could work teaching privately. It’s good to know that I can fall back into teaching if everything else fails. (which I’m sure they won’t)

But yeah, it’s just a great feeling to know that things are moving now. I’m not stuck in China teaching yet again, for another year. I can start to learn Spanish, I can start looking at jobs I want to do, I can start doing things that I just couldn’t do in China.

Even making friends, I hope I can make new lifelong Mexican friends in Mexico. In China, we made friends and then lost them…. as everyone moves away eventually. So it’s hard to meet and keep in contact with people, especially in China.

I have to think, what will I be doing this time next year? I’ll most likely be in Mexico. Will my Spanish be good? I hope I’ll have new friends. I hope I’ll be living in an apartment. Ha I’ll push the boat out and hope I’ll win the lotto and be rich.

Who knows!

Aisling

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I only work 12 days each month. Sounds great no?

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Since arriving to China, I’ve worked in Universities and private language centres, and each has their advantages and disadvantages.

For the job I have now, which is in a University, all 11 foreign English teachers work only 3 days a week…. and that is a full time job here!

So 3 days a week, plus winter holidays off and summer holidays off. So it’s a ridiculously low work hour. Our salary is a little lower than say in a private language centre, but I would happily work 3 days over 5.

That is why in the University I work, there are teachers who have been here for 4+ years, and will most likely stay for the foreseeable future. Free apartment, free internet, my card is topped up every month for food at the canteen (at the moment I’ve about 75euro in my card from the University), they pay half of our electricity and water fee, they don’t care what we teach and don’t ask, and we get bonuses for this and that. So it’s seems like the perfect job, doesn’t it??!!

But we still plan to leave. There are so many benefits to this job, but I really can’t wait to leave. I know most people are like “Oh my god why are you leaving that???? You only work 3 days a week!!”.

I just feel like we are done in China, and I just can’t see myself here another year. This semester 4 classes out of 11 are very bad. The students are very lazy, have a bad attitude and I just couldn’t face that again for another year. I don’t enjoy teaching, I don’t enjoy the fact that the student’s don’t give a shit about what I say. I feel I’m not getting anything out of teaching, so although there are great benefits, I really just want to find something that I enjoy doing, if that means working 5 days a week. So be it. I think once you enjoy doing something, it won’t matter how many days you work.

And plus I don’t want to be here for another 5 years doing the exact same thing. I know we’ll never get this amount of benefits from a job again, and I’ll be grateful for the time that I worked 3 days a week and earned good money. But we all have to leave our comfort zone.

Most of the teachers here are planning on staying on to teach…. so I feel that they are going to be here forever (or until they can’t get a new visa)… but I just can’t do it. I feel like I would be stuck; unable to leave because of all the perks of the job.  It’s very tempting to stay, but I really want to move onto a new chapter in my life!

Which hopefully won’t involve teaching!

Aisling.

 

Job Hunting

With my fiancé soon to finish working with his current employer, and like myself , he will also be unemployed. As much as I love not working; I can study MUCH more….I really don’t like the feeling of knowing absolutely nothing is going into my bank account. We’ve really cut down on spending, but we can’t survive here without working.  There are a few people we know here who don’t work, and I have no idea how they are doing it! Please let me in on your secret on not working in China!

But anyway, unfortunately we aren’t the lucky ones who can afford to not work. Thankfully I’m not a big spender in general, but even getting my 7yuan Coco drink (€0.94cent) makes me cringe!

So we’ve heard recently that a girl from our Chinese class is leaving in a few weeks, and she has classes that her school she works for wants to move to other teachers. We decided to meet up with the lady in charge and she told us more about the schedule and what not.

What we love about the job is that it’s only 10 minutes by cycling to reach the school. Very handy! Plus it’s a small school, so the emphasis is on giving the students a good education,  They are not obsessed with money like my previous employer was. But there are a few things which have made us doubt wanting to work there.

The schedule is all over the place, so I would have no idea how they would arrange it for 2 teachers to teach the classes. The schedule is really only suited for person. Plus our friend works 6 days a week…. I definitely do not want that!

The pay isn’t standard with many other places; sure if I didn’t have much experience, I’d accept their hourly rate, but as I’ve 3.5 years experience, I’d like to earn a little higher than what they are offering.

Another issue is with their teaching times. Ideally they want someone who will work until next February. However our visa expires in the middle of January. So we were looking at options on how to tackle this. One option is to stay another semester at the Uni, then we could commit to teaching with them for two full semesters. I know I know, with our history of constantly changing our plans here in China, I wouldn’t be surprised if we are still here in another 10 years!! Every year it’s ‘Oh we’ll just stay one more year…….and another year….and another…’ 

But, that just goes to show how comfortable you can get here. As every foreigner in China knows all too well!

Finally, every month they take money out of teachers wages, and then at the end of the contract they give it back. I understand this, but it’s quite a lot of money they take out! So if you have to leave unexpectedly… boom…. that money you have earned is now gone. So I don’t really like that aspect of the job.

So anyway… at the moment we don’t really know what to do. It feels like we are are adapting for the school, whereas the school should be adapting for us.

We’ll think about it more and discuss with the owner… if we are willing to adapt to her needs, then surely she should be able to adapt to ours….well, that’s what I’m hoping!

再见

爱玲

Just Answer The Question Please

So lately I’ve been keeping my eye out on any possible job opportunities here. I can’t stay jobless here forever unfortunately.

I found a posting for a teacher to teach adults travelling English and it was located in the West of Chengdu. Now Chengdu is big, so I wanted to know where exactly in the West they wanted to have class. I live in the south west, so I was thinking that it may be quite close to me and that I may not have to travel too far.

That’s all… just answer that one simple question and then maybe, if the location was suitable… then I would consider it.

So I get in contact with someone and I ask them

“Where in the west would they like to have class?”

They reply “Please give some information about yourself please”.

Well ok… so I gave them a quick voicemail message about myself and sent it to him.

“I will give your details to a friend of mine and you can discuss it with him”.

So I still don’t know where exactly this teaching job is….

The friend then contacts me and asks where I live and when I can teach.

I reply and then ask againWhere in the West do they want to have class?”

“Oh if you know a coffee shop or a place near to yours then they can have class there”. 

That’s good I thought…. but then I began to think: If they said they wanted class in the west, then why do they suddenly say near my area is also fine? I might live 1 hour away from them…. 

Anyway, we keep messaging each other and later he sends me a location on maps of where they want to have class.

“Is this location ok for you to teach??”

What??? It would take me 40 minutes cycling to reach there! It’s nowhere near my area!

Why say ‘They can have class near your area’ and then send me a location nowhere near me?

I replied “That place is too far for me, it would take me 40 minutes by bike to reach there. If they can come closer to my area thats ok, but maybe if they can’t then I think they should find a teacher closer to them”.

I really didn’t want to waste 80 minutes travelling just to have a 1.5 hour class. It’s definitely not worth it.

Plus, I don’t think the adult students would be too happy having to travel to my area either. So I felt it was better for them to try and find a teacher nearer to where they live.

But all this could have been avoided if they just answered my question in the first place! That’s all I wanted to know…. they wanted to know everything about me but couldn’t give me proper information about something that is rather important for teachers if they want to do some private teaching.

You know, I felt bad running them around the place, but I never said I would take the job, I was only enquiring,  but to me, it felt like they were thinking ‘OH WE FOUND ONE, SHE WILL TEACH THE STUDENTS…PHEW’

I don’t think they figured out I was just enquiring. That was all.

So I’m a bit hesitant now to contact any other people about jobs. I don’t think they realise that teachers may just be enquiring about things. Especially when they don’t elaborate on info. If it’s vague (like my one) then you certainly need to be clear on place, hours, salary etc. Maybe I should be clearer next time.

I suppose that’s one lesson I learned from job postings here!

再见

爱玲

Just About Coping

After 3 weeks of returning to Chinese class… I’m still very stressed with my class. My listening teacher is fine (she talks far too quickly and basically speaks to us like we are Chinese; so she’s just too fast for us) but it’s my first teacher where I’m struggling.

Every week she reads a story to us and we have to listen to her. Then she asks each and everyone of us to answer a question about the story.  Because she’s talking for like 3/4 minutes, I get the beginning bit… but after that it’s just gibberish. She speaks very fast and I just can’t grasp what she’s saying quick enough.

So I’ve realised my listening is quite poor in comparison to some others, so I really need to improve my listening ability.

Today, she asked me 3 questions about the story and I didn’t know the answer to any of them. So that wasn’t good!

She’s a great teacher though. She puts you on the spot and you have to answer. So you need to pay attention. I just feel my Chinese isn’t high enough for her class.

But I’ll stick with it though. I realise I remember the grammar and vocab more though compared to my last semesters classes. I actually can’t remember much of anything from that book! So that’s something anyway!

再见

爱玲

Saying Goodbye To My Students

Having just finished my last day of work, I’ve sadly had to say goodbye to all of my students. I’ve been extremely lucky… most of my students were great. 1 boy was a bit of a pain, but I honestly never dreaded having to go in and teach a class. I know there are a lot of teachers in my campus with some horror students!

So because I had lovely students, that’s more of a reason why I’ll miss them! Also having to lie that ‘I’m leaving in a few weeks’ makes me feel bad. But if I stayed, I would have had to say goodbye to them in a few months time anyway though.

It was tough saying goodbye to the oldest student I had. When I moved to another campus, she moved with me. So I’ve had her for about 3 years I think. (She’s the one that calls me fat), but apart from that she was a brilliant and kind student!

After my last class her Mum and Dad came in, gave me a Prada gift of a small purse (Prada no less!) and we said our goodbyes. (I gave her a card but I felt bad that they gave me a quite expensive gift) I also got a picture of me and her together which is nice to keep! I think the whole family was sad about me leaving… but I know the teacher that will take over is super nice and I know my student will be fine with her.

She even shocked me when she sent me this:

Unfortunately my reading of handwritten characters isn’t the best so I need a Chinese person to help me translate some of it, but I’m so happy that she took the time and energy to write this for me. It’s so great to know that she enjoyed having class with me and that she felt comfortable with me.

It’s nice that you build this relationship with your students. I only had her once a week, but in that hour you do build a bond and relationship. She (and all my other students) knew they could joke in class and have a laugh with me. Once we just get a bit of work done as well!

Another one of my students who is 14years old also gave me a keyring! She is super nice. Her Mum and Dad said that their daughter liked me a lot and will miss me. I also got a photo with her and the Mum. It’s nice to hear these things… that I’ve had an impact on their lives, no matter how small it was!

It’s such a pity though that I had to leave them because of the company. I loved all my students and they definitely weren’t the reasons why I left. It really is a shame.

I remember when I finished my internship at the University that I taught at… I wondered will I ever see any of my students again. Unfortunately I haven’t seen any since. But I often wonder what they are doing or where they are. Maybe I pass them on the street all the time and I don’t even know it!

Thankfully I’ve gotten some of my students wechat number (sort of like whats app) so we can communicate by that. Some also said they would love to visit me in Ireland! That would be nice!

But anyway, I’ll miss them all. But at the end of the day I’d have to leave them one day…. just thought I would have them just a little bit longer…

再见

爱玲

 

Money Or Happiness?

Money Or Happiness?

Unfortunately, happiness doesn’t come easy to me. I worry/ stress over pretty much everything. A lot of times I don’t like myself for whatever reason….and I haven’t done some things because my anxiety takes over and forces me to abandon it. I’m missing out on things because I’m too afraid to do it… and it drives me mad!

So when it comes to money or happiness… which one should you choose? I’ve been at the same company for the past 3 years, but I finally gave in my 1 months notice. This definitely wasn’t because I had too much money.. like everyone else I need to work. But I simply just wasn’t happy. I had my meeting with my manager and told her how I feel. I don’t mind teaching, and my students are all really nice… just I didn’t want to work for the company anymore. Their new changes weren’t going to benefit me,  we had no say as to whether the teachers actually wanted these new changes… and it just felt like I had no opinion on anything… accept it and that’s that.

We plan on leaving China during the summer, so If I stayed, I would only have to work another 4/5 months, and I know some people would say ‘Oh just stick it out…it’s only a few more months’  But for me, I knew I would feel worse and worse if I stayed.

For me, I would pick being happy than money. I certainly need money, but happiness to me is more important. I strive for happiness in my life… but sometimes it feels like I’m never going to be happy. Whatever I do it won’t be good enough. So that’s my ongoing battle with myself!

In a previous job, it made me really unhappy.  I remember crying one night because I just didn’t want to be there. So I left. I then spent the last year looking for jobs… which kind of made it worse!

I know in a few weeks I’ll be thinking ‘Oh why didn’t I stay… I’d have more money now and I wouldn’t be worrying about my finances’… I know I’ll be thinking that… but just at this moment my  overwhelming desire of happiness just overrides these feelings. In a way, knowing that I made this decision by myself… to better myself mentally makes it (at this moment) worthwhile.

Does anyone else have the same opinion, or would some people choose money over happiness?

再见

爱玲