Working, Studying & Living: Sorting It Out

For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing what to do with our lives for the next year… and finally we’ve come up with a plan.

Working: Because I’m making hardly any money at the moment… although I do love the free time that I have, I’ve resorted having to go back to full time, well 15 working hours a week. This in my company is ‘full-time’.  I’ve managed to keep only working 3 days a week which is just great. I will dread the day when I have to work 7 hours 5 days a week. I’m really being spoilt here.

So working full time means I will be guaranteed my wage every month, whereas right now I’m paid by the amount of hours I teach.. so during the summer time I hardly get paid anything because students go on holidays.

Studying: We’ve also decided that this semester will be our last in our current Uni. I’ve really grown fond of it, plus I enjoy classroom based teaching. But every semester we are finding it harder and harder to get up in the morning. And at the end of the day I still have to pay 1 year tuition. We will miss everyone that we have met, even my teachers. All of them are so nice.

Instead of learning at the Uni, I will continue going to my private lessons in a private language school. It’s only 15 minutes walk from my apartment so it’s very convenient.

And as for Living: Unfortunately due to the enormous cost of rent in Xiamen, we decided to stay in Chengdu. It’s just too expensive. I really love the place, but I don’t want to be worrying about bills and rent just because I want to live somewhere sunny and pretty. I’d rather save my money and go travelling. Instead, when our apartment contract is finished, we will look at some apartments in the community that we already live in. We like where we live and we don’t want to have to lug our things miles away. Because we are going to be earning more, we want to upgrade to a bigger apartment… haha we might even get a balcony, and even a door for our bedroom!!

So right now, we are sorting out my boyfriends Mum and Dad’s visa to come to visit here, let our company know that in December I will be able to teach more students (they will surely be delighted with this), and begin to sort out the dreaded work visa for next year.

Every foreigner in Chengdu dreads that time of year when their visa expires. Enrolling in Uni is the easiest way to get one… but because we will be getting a work visa, we will need to go to Hong Kong on a ‘visa run’ as people say, plus we will get a medical certificate done.

I’m not too fond of going to Hong Kong. It’s expensive and crowded. However maybe this time round it might be different with my boyfriend being with me.

I hate having to sort visa stuff out. The people working there are not at all friendly and they can deny you a visa without giving any explanation whatsoever. Plus if you don’t have 1 piece of paper, that’s it: go home and come back when you get it. Oh and they need like 10 photocopies of every piece of paper you have. Oh they are very picky!

So, we’ve managed to sort out our plan for next year…. ha I won’t think too much ahead just right now or I’ll panic again!



My Medical Examination Experience

International Travel Health Centre

International Travel Health Centre

So finally, things are under way to get me to Hong Kong to get my work visa. Because I was so busy, I forgot I actually needed to go, until another teacher told me he was going to get his Medical Examination. That got me wondering about my visa, and WHEN exactly my current one expires. Getting worried, I looked at my visa and suddenly I realised; it expires on the 11th of May. So I got in contact with the company and both my-self and another teacher from my campus got our medical done yesterday.

From what I expected, It turned out completely different. The ‘Clinic’ was not a modern, clean, dis-infected relaxing area. No, it was a building with people queuing for this and that, the bathroom’s were grubby, there was NO, I repeat no soap to wash your hands, and it was generally just not what I expected.

I had to get like 8 tests, from a urine sample, eye test, ultrasound (I thought only pregnant ladies got these), x-ray, heart check, weight measurement, blood pressure and blood sample. Another bizarre one was a man sticking a rod up my nose and checking my ears. Done in 5 seconds, it still counted as a test.

First we had to give a urine sample. Beside the bathrooms were about 100 small cups in a big container, so you can pick your own. A self-service job. Then it was the dreaded blood test. It was just like a counter. There were 3 slots and you had to sit down in 1 of them, the lady in front would strap your upper arm, and would literally puncture your arm. Oh no, there was no small private room where the nurse would make you relaxed. It was literally in a hallway and everyone can see you getting it done. Once your done, bam, away you go and the person behind you is next.

I said it’s like a conveyor belt. Once one test is done, away you go looking for the next room. The nurses don’t talk to you, they do there business and usher you out of the room, where a line of other people would be waiting.
But, it was efficient. There was no dawdling around waiting for 20 minutes for each exam. It was in and out. When we were finished, we were each even given a carton of….. milk. Maybe it’s an award. “Well done Aisling for doing ALL those terrible tests we cruelly made you do, here’s some milk, you deserve it.”

The results should come back in a few days, so hopefully everything will be all clear. Our Chinese helper said 2 people had to go home because there was something wrong with their test results.

Oh and in my last post I mentioned we had our team building workshop. We went for Hot Pot and then to KTV. Because it was my birthday in April, they were celebrating everyone’s birthday which occurred in this month. Anyway, because two of the teachers weren’t there (and their birthday is in April) it was just me that night.

The Chinese staff bought a big cake for us April people, and because it was only me there…. The whole cake was for me! I was completely and utterly shocked! Everyone gathered around, lit the candles, and sang happy birthday to me. I had to blow the candles and they all clapped. It will be something I won’t forget. Just because I had no idea that that would happen, now I know what it must feel like for people on surprise birthday parties.

So because I was the Birthday girl (although my birthday was at the beginning of April) I cut the cake for everyone.

And I’m beginning to look forward to Hong Kong now. A fellow teacher is coming with me for his visa so at least I’ll have someone with me. I can see more of China and it’s a little break from teaching.




I’ve finally started my vaccinations. And unlike the photo, I was NOT smiling. I will be broke after my 4 injections, so I keep saying to myself ‘I’d rather have them and not need them, than need them and not have them’. I’m getting Rabies and just a booster of Hep A ( need a booster after a year for Hep A).

Next objective; sort this stupid laptop out. Everything you could think of, this laptop does; crashes, dies, freezes, suddenly updates for hours, and is always struggling with lack of air circulation due to the fan.
Shit will hit the fan (excuse the pun) if it decides to break when I’m away.

I Have Films!

Something constructive actually happened this week. I now have a lovely ‘My Passport’ red external hard drive. Thanks to my boyfriend and his dad, they organised to get loads of recent/old films onto it. From Black Swan to 21 Jump Street, I have them! There are some films I never heard of, to old classics like Back to the Future. I’ve watched a couple already, ones that I’ve always wanted to see but never had the chance, or was too lazy to go see them in the cinema. I also have some TV series, like The Big Bang Theory, Love/Hate ( its a very popular Irish series, everyone is raving about it so I’d like to get into it), The Walking Dead and An Idiot Abroad. 

My vaccinations however didn’t go to plan… due to cost and confusion of what vaccinations I need, I’m going to sort that out next week instead. I’m pretty sure I just need a booster of one. ( I hope) I still have a couple of weeks to go, but I’d rather just get them out of the way rather than worrying about it a week before I go. My trip to Tanzania ended up that way, in that I got my last Hep B injection the DAY BEFORE I actually left. Saying that, it was purely my own fault… so this time round I’m going to keep up to date with everything!

I’m still undecided on this question though: suitcase or backpack? I’m really torn. I would love to bring my backpack. Although I loved it and felt like a real ‘backpacker’, it was a bloody nuisance with packing. I’d literally have to take everything out of it to get something from the bottom, or rummage through it and hopefully grab the thing I was looking for. Actually putting it on me was a task in itself too. But, I still loved it.

I’m veering towards a suitcase for a number of reasons though. Its handier for packing, I can see what’s in it, I can wear a bag on my back (for my laptop) and I assume it will fit more things in it than a backpack. It is also more secure, whereas I cant put any expensive items in my backpack because I cant lock it.

The company that I am going with state that a backpack would be better to bring because of the travelling. I would love to travel after the internship, maybe visit the countries like Thailand and Vietnam, but that’s still a long way off yet.

So If anyone has some suggestions about what’s best for travelling with, I’d be grateful!


July Already????

Hello 1st of July, I have been waiting to see you for…oh about 5 months now. I have only one month left until August… meaning one FULL month left at home until I go. When I got my acceptance letter last March, all I could think was ‘I have to wait 5 whole months now!’ Now I’m finally nearing lift-off.

So what have I actually done in 5 months? Not a lot.

1. I bought a Grammer book specifically designed for study over those couple of months, learning my adjectives, my superlatives, my gerunds and what not. . . that in fact did NOT happen. I know I’m going to regret that later on.

2. I bought a couple of clothes for going away. (by couple I mean 1 pair of trousers, a dress and 3 t-shirts)

3. I booked my accommodation prior to our Orientation called the Happy Dragon Hostel in Beijing.   

4. I contemplated calling the Doctors for Vacs. I’m really not keen on paying money to have someone stick needles in me.

5. Made and remade my famous stir-fry until I’m literally sick of the stuff. I know I go on a lot about my cooking but I’m a terrible cook so I’m delighted that I try. I’m so sick of noodles and chicken. . but my chop-stick skills have improved a lot from it.

6. Eyeing up Kindles with Envy.

I promised to myself July is my busy month, no I actually do have a lot to do. So this week: Vaccinations. Worst is, the vaccinations I got last year expired, who knew they expire?… in a year?? … so now I have to get them all again.. the joys!