A Travellerspoint blog

The second week begins

semi-overcast 30 °C

The second week of teaching has definitely been much harder. I miss my first week's class. They come visit me in my new class during the break. They are so sweet! A few of them brought me gifts on Monday, one of which was from a girl who we met in the grocery store on the Saturday. Her mom made a scarf for me after I met her. SO lovely! My new class and I dont quite get along as well. I don't think they enjoyed English class last week, and I am taking it as my job to crack them. It's hard. I got a good portion of the class, but there are some boys who are too cool for school and can be quite rude. I wish it had been the other way around - where I had the hard class then the lovely one, but I am lucky to have had the lovely one at all.

On another note, I've had the most indulgent day! Slept in until 8 this morning, then after breakfast a few of us went to the salon everyone had been talking and got a shampoo and blowdry. It was a 45 min shampoo/head, shoulder, neck, and arm massage. So indulgent and only $5. We then got actual coffee. I have a feeling that will happen again before we leave Fuyang.

Posted by jchapelski 06:26 Archived in China Comments (0)

How could I forget...?!

Saturday night was so much fun! We grabbed a quick dinner then headed to a basketball game. Earlier in the week, we met one of the other 5 white people in Fuyang. He plays on the local basketball team. He gave us info about to game so a few of us went on Saturday night. It was hilarious. We didn't actually know where our seats were so we just took 5 in a row and hoped we didn't get kicked out. Everyone was very orderly, except when the other team had the ball. They the whole gum filled with a 'defense' chant. Something seemed funny about it and after a few minutes we realized it was a recording that they played. If the other team scored it would just stop mid word! We got a good giggle about that, and also being able to yell whatever we wanted since no one would understand anyways. The next game is after we leave Fuyang. Too bad!

Posted by jchapelski 21:24 Comments (0)

Hangzhou

semi-overcast 32 °C

We also had this Sunday off, so we went into Hangzhou, the big city in our area, for the day. First we visited a tea plantation which was interesting. I am now convinced of the health benefits of green tea! I always knew it was good for you, but will definitely try to make more of an effort to drink it now! A few of us actually bought little cups with stainers at the grocery store here and have been having our tea in that. We also bought dried hawthorn berries and orange peels to put in it. Delicious!! De definitely fit in with our tea mugs with stuff floating in the bottom.

After that, we fought traffic in Hangzhou to go for lunch. It was crazy because it was a Sunday. After that we visited west lake, which is a big lake in the middle of the city. There was a temple somewhat close by that we wanted to see but didn't have time. Things always take longer when you are traveling in a big group. I can't wait to be traveling with fewer people! We then wentto the old street and separated from the group and just wandered. It's amazing how western some parts of china are. It was so clean and beautiful in Hangzhou, not anything like the pictures of crowded dirty China you see. I'm sure parts of it are like that, but they have been well-concealed from me for now.

Posted by jchapelski 21:07 Archived in China Comments (0)

One week down...

overcast 30 °C

Well, one week of teaching is done. I think time must pass by quicker here. It doesn't feel like I've been gone for 10 days.

I have to start off by saying this job is cushy. Seriously cushy. The teaching here is so much fun, and only 4x40 min a day. In school in China, there is not a lot of learning through play. In Canada, especially when I am teaching a second, third, fourth language, I teach mostly throug play and projects. Here, I have only taught through play and projects and they have loved it! It makes for a very fun class, since it is so different to be playing and laughing (and I love laughing in class. I don't know that there is a day of teaching on my life that has gone by where I didn't laugh with a class). I'm really lucky that I had such great connections with my classes. After being immersed in elementary schoool for so long, I had forgotten how fun it can be to teach the older ones, and what connections you can make. I had some fantastic conversations with my classes (I figure it's a good conversation when a class of 50 teens are completely silent) and did some pretty fascinating projects. Some are definitely coming home with me. Yesterday, Friday, was my last day with these students and it was hard to say bye. Some wrote letters and one gave me a gift. We all applauded and cheered at the end and none of us wanted to leave i had to shoo some out! I've been thinking a lot about how self indulgent it is to be a foreign teacher. They love you! You're a celebrity. Some were even asking for my autograph. It actually makes me slightly uncomfortable. I told them multiple times that teachers are not this popular in Canada! It will be interesting to see what my class is like next week. I have a lower division (their divisions are ranked here) and so their English won't be as good and I expect behavior won't be quite as good either.

Today, Saturday, we had off, so they took us to see some stunning caves in a mountain about an hour away. You had to take a creepy tram up and then a single-rider-operate-your-own-brakes roller coaster down. I think you'll need to see the pictures to believe it! Tomorrow we are off to Hangzhou - the big city nearby and then back to teaching on Monday!

Love from China,

Jess

Posted by jchapelski 01:01 Archived in China Comments (0)

It's hot...

sunny 34 °C

Well, I've survived the first few days here, which really isn't that hard to do! Besides the heat and humidity, everything has been fantastic!

The town where I am staying -Fuyang - is a 'small city' of 600 000 people, so it is pretty quiet and calm. It's actually quite beautiful. If you are looking on a map, you probably won't see it, but it is about an hour away from Hangzhou. We are going there this weekend to check it out. There is a nice river that passes through Fuyang and I have been going for morning or evening walks along the shore. That's where the only breeze is! Our hotel is at the end of the main street, so it is pretty quiet but also central. It's minutes from the river too!

I am really liking the life style of getting up early and doing something before the heat and humidity gets unbearable, being back to have breakfast by 830 or 9, and then planning what I'm going to teach the next day, napping, or braving the heat to go get water or food. We teach from 2-5 at a high school a 10 minute drive away from our hotel. We have a room where we can all keep all our stuff, and prep which is nice. how they have split up the classes is a bit confusing, but the general gist of it is that I have a class of 25 where I do conversation (so far I've done lots of conversation games), then I have another class of the same, but different kids. All of the students i see are 16-17 years old. Those are blocks 1 and 2. Blocks 3 and 4, I have 50 kids, half of which I've seen earlier in the day. We are to do 'electives' but we didn't have as much PE space as we thought we would have. So we are all going to do some art, some PE and some music (the beibs is alive and well here so we may listen to some of that. The first day with my class of 50, I did one on one conversations (think camp speed dating) and I asked them if they were the foreign teacher, what would they teach. They were super interested in western culture so the next day, we did an alphabet game, and played bingo with it. They were so into it and it got them talking! Amazing! The way they teach in Chinese schools is very different from how I teach they stay in their desks and don't move, so when I've done games where they have to move, it's taken a lot of examples to make it work. I think they are getting the hang of it though. Thinking back to all the students from China that I worked with at southlands last year who were in Canada for 1 or 2 years, I understand their way of learning so much better!

I think one of the most interesting things for me is the lack of culture shock I'm having. I feel comfortable and safe, and like I had my 'china feet' on within the first few days. I now remember that just because the crosswalk says to cross, doesn't mean cars are going to stop. Rules of the road are basically that the bigger thing gets the right of way. Of course, the one difficult thing is the language. I have learned 2 words - no hao (hello) and xie xie - thank you. Let's just say my visual dictionary has come in very handy! Because Fuyang is so 'small' there are very few foreigners that come here. In fact, the only other foreigners that I've seen were at the school yesterday doing health talks. I've found that anyone who speaks even a little bit of English will jump at the chance to help you. It's quite sweet. Of course there is lots of staring. It's rare to see a bunch of white people walking down the street. Some of the little ones are quite fascinated and excitedly shake each other's arm to look.

It's funny having access to tv in the hotel. This is definitely way nicer than how I usually travel. I sometimes have the tv on for noise, and I've kept it on this one channel that has constantly had a celebration of communism on (July 1 was the 90 year anniversary of it). It is FASCINATING to see, but I don't think I'll say anything else here...

Well, I think that's all for now. I now have the interwebs in the hotel room, so I can check email and skype. I'd love to hear what you are all up to!

Posted by jchapelski 14:39 Archived in China Comments (1)

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