A Travellerspoint blog

August 2017

Pre-departure

omg what have I done

So the next adventure is on the very close horizon. Next stop, Beijing. I have secured a teaching position in a school in fairly central Beijing for the next 10 months and during my time in China, I intend to travel as far and wide as possible (within reason). I have some definite destinations in mind, including Shanghai, Harbin, for the winter ice festival and Chengdu, to see the pandas, and many others that I am also going to try and squeeze in. Obviously being situated in Beijing there will be plenty to keep me occupied there too and all going well, during Spring Festival (January time) I would like to grab a summer holiday in Australia.

Teaching will take up most of my time so you can expect posts about life in school as well as my voyaging. Honestly, I have no idea what to expect. It's going to be an enormous adventure and probably quite testing, but I'm incredibly excited and it's finally starting to sink in that in two days I'll be on my way. I'm more or less packed, although trying to fit a years supply of clothes into a suitcase has proved rather challenging in itself. What with temperatures in Beijing varying between -10 and +30 Celcius, I have everything from wooly jumpers to flip flops in my luggage.

Otherwise, my preparation has been minimal, for example I can speak about 5 words of Mandarin and I am not proficient at using chopsticks. I am therefore anticipating a few very tricky months as I adjust to life in Asia. Finally, websites such as Facebook and apps like Whatsapp or Snapchat are not accessible in China so my social media presence will be nil, which it is anyway but now I have a genuine reason. For that reason, I will be documenting some of my travels in this blog, primarily for my future self to look back on, but also for anyone else that is curious about my 12 months in China.

:)

Posted by amysblog 10:19 Comments (1)

My first week in China

Learning how to teach in Pinggu

30 °C
View Teaching in China on amysblog's travel map.

So I’ve been in China for 7 days now, however it already feels like much, much longer. Not for any bad reason but just because I have not stopped since I got here. I literally stepped off the plane, was confronted with a hole in the floor, whizzed through customs and next thing I knew was in a taxi on the way to the training summer camp… cue terrifying 45 minute motorway experience in a car without seat belts.

On arrival, though I could barely keep my eyes open, I dumped my bags in my room and then went straight to lunch. I couldn’t cope with the thought of using chopsticks at that point so I settled for the strategically-placed western cutlery that was just next to the electric neon chopstick dispensing machine. I met some of the other ESL teachers over lunch, but I was not really capable of conversation, and then went to have a look around the school, trying to stay awake to combat the jet lag.

I went to the teachers’ lounge where I met my teaching partner Otess and from there on in, I haven’t really stopped. Before I knew it, I was stood in front of a class of 25 smiling faces, introducing myself and giving a two and a half hour lesson on British Manners. I spent the night lesson planning ready for my second day and got to bed about 10pm. By this point I was in a stage of near delirium. The next morning I was up at 6.30. If there’s one thing that was good about my mental 24 hours, it’s that the jet lag has been minimal. Teaching has been from 8.30-11.30 in the morning and then 2-5 in the afternoons. We then tend to spend the evenings in the teachers’ lounge working on our lessons for the next day, using the wifi and chilling.

Some Hardworking Students

Some Hardworking Students

The lessons have been good every day and I now know all the kids by [English] name in my class, which is impressive, considering they didn’t even know their own names at first. Some of them I have really good friendships with and others are kind of still in the stalker stage, i.e. taking 400 photos of me every day. It has also been amazing to see their progression and I have grown really attached to the class. At the beginning of the week they could barely string a sentence together and today they were presenting their summer camp projects to me and chatting away at break time in English.

Class 3 getting active

Class 3 getting active

I had a day off on Monday which was a nice break, although a physically demanding day because we went to The Great Wall for the day. I really enjoyed getting out and about and seeing a bit more of China. We went to the Mutianyu section of The Wall. It took about 2 hours to get there but we arrived at 9am, so it was still relatively cool (about 28 degrees). We walked up to the top which took around 30 minutes, which wasn’t too bad really and I enjoyed doing some physical exercise and talking to the others about something other than lesson plans. By the time we got to the top I was drenched in sweat but it really was phenomenal. I wasn’t expecting to be so impressed by a wall, but I could not get over the immense scale of it. Every time we went through a watch tower, there was a new breathtaking view and it just blew my mind.

Mutianyu, The Great Wall of China

Mutianyu, The Great Wall of China

Tomorrow is our last day teaching in Pinggu before we go to Central Beijing for our TEFL exam and then it’s off to my placement where I will be for the next 10 months. It’s a daunting prospect, especially as I have made a lot of friends here and had great students. I am looking forward to knowing more about my job and meeting my new students. I have been looking for Mandarin classes in the area to try and help me make some friends.. I’m feeling ready to settle into life in China.

Posted by amysblog 06:53 Archived in China Comments (0)

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