Busy busy busy
I haven’t updated for ages! I haven’t really had a lot to say, but I guess now I do.
I’ve been keeping my eye out for other jobs in China and have applied for a few to see what happens. I’ve been offered a few, one which I had to turn down because the contract was terrifying and the other I think they are having to turn me down because of financial issues with regards to my airfare refund, which is a damn shame because that job was in Zhuhai and that sounds like an amazing city! Far better than Zhangjiagang…Which almost seems to be the Portsmouth of China. I guess there’s lots of cities like Zhangjiagang, and it’s not that bad, but it’s a very, very young city, Shanghai is thousands of years old and Zhangjiagang is 20 years old which explains why this city is so dull. It’s obviously expanding a lot, there’s construction work going on all over the place and teachers who have been here for more than half a year have commented on how different it is now compared to back then. But it just doesn’t have that much going for it. Infact it has nothing going for it. It’s a city, it has shops, pretty gardens, nice people, lots of bars and lots of business….It doesn’t seem to have any character, any fascinating history, there’s no culture here. Shanghai for example, from what I have seen and heard, is booming. People from all over the place are in Shanghai, being tourists, businessmen and local workers etc etc, there’s things happening there, there’s exhibitions, festivals, celebrations etc etc…Zhangjiagang just can’t compare. And compare it to a city like Brighton (where I like to say I come from), Brighton has an amazing atmosphere, the people there are very different, it’s very cosmopolitan, different parts of the city have different atmospheres, Zhangjiagang doesn’t have that. It’s the same all over the place. I don’t think I’ve met a single foreigner who’s been here more than a few months and hasn’t either said the city is crap or that they want to leave. I’m getting to know a few of the other foreigners in this town and they want to leave because it’s dull. I don’t think it’s very easy to sell this city to people and I worry that any new teachers who come to our school will leave after a few months because they think the city is dull. I’m very happy in our school, perhaps I’d like a few less hours and a bit more pay but it’s going to be the same wherever I go I guess, but this city is just pants. If this school was in a nice city I wouldn’t be complaining about how pants this city is….I’d just be complaining about something else!
Having said all that, well I guess I can say I am having a very fortunate first time working abroad. I’m just about settled down now, and I really like the school I work for because we all get on really well and we are well looked after, I’m aware there’s better paid less demanding teaching jobs in this country but I also know that a lot of those jobs are with schools who won’t hesitate to screw you around. I think if I haven’t found another job and moved to another city by the end of December, beginning of January, I will have to abandon my hunt for jobs due to finance and timing and I will just remain here for a few more months.
I’m feeling a lot more settled now, and I’ve moved to a very nice apartment and my social life is on the up now. I’m saving loads of money! I’ve got eating out, out of my system now and I can’t bare wasting more money on eating out. It’s not that expensive, but it all adds up, and when you eat as much as I do it seems to add up to a lot and take a fair chunk out of your monthly expenditure. I’m gonna start cooking at home which is going to save me a fortune, I think if I cook at home I can live on the same amount of money a week that I’d spend in a day! Also, we have 3 new teachers here, one guy from England who is due to move in with me today, and another American couple, and they are all really nice people and I’m really glad they’re nice people! So the office is a nice place, and I now have a flatmate is who is a nice person so I am happy. My new flat I love to bits, and have spent the past week living there with another teacher Joanne, who flew back to England yesterday. We’ve lost two teachers in the last 2 weeks, and are due to lose another one this weekend….And possibly me if I ever find a better offer in time (which I very much doubt). We’ve got a few new teachers coming in over the next 5 or 6 weeks aswell. Then we will have lots of teachers. Also, with regards to money, seeing as I saved so much last month and my expenditures are not going to be much at all this month, I worked out my finances on payday and worked out that I had enough to buy a little video games console and still have loads left over, so I bought me a Nintendo DS! Woo!! Kinda wishing I bought a PSP, but I can do that aswell in 2 months, maybe even next month if I really wished. But thanks to the joys of chinese piracy and their techincal wizadry, I am able to get pirate games for my DS for free!! WOOO! And I can have 12 games at a time on the cartridge the shop gave me, all I need to do is go to the shop and say I want more games, or use a computer and download them! Woo! It would be the same case if I bought a PSP, although not as many games at a time because the games are much bigger than Nintendo DS games. So the Nintendo DS has made me happy :D!
As for teaching, it’s still going well and I feel quite confident with it now. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before but I strangely managed to improvise a game that basically disciplines the kids through boredom. Basically when they are misbehaving, I stop the activity we are doing and write a word on the board. I get them to say each letter of the word on the board when I point to the letter, then when we reach the end of the word I rub off the last letter, and repeat until the whole word has gone. When they speak before I touch the board, the person I catch speaking has to stand up for the rest of the game and we start straight from the beginning again. This can sometimes take a good 20 minutes, and it really works wonders. I’ve got little demons to act like angels through this game, and I’ve been bragging about in the office and other teachers are saying they will try it soon. I took over a class from another teacher on Monday and these kids were really, really, really badly behaved, so seeing as it was my first lesson with them I wanted to give them a very good first impression and so I was incredibly strict with them and also made them play this game, and they behaved! It really is such a satisfying thing when you have 20 screaming kids who won’t listen to you, with only you in the room trying to teach and control them, and then 10 minutes later they are behaving like angels and all I’ve done is point to board a few times and shout at them a little bit and give them really angry looks. I seem to have become very good at giving them convincing angry looks that scare the life out of them, I can also give them the silent “I’m not impressed” look that seems to embarrass them a little and stops them from smiling. What’s more, is when they actually start behaving they start learning and my job becomes fun and I feel like I’ve done something. I’m definetely learning how to fake confidence in this job, even if you don’t have enough confidence to control 20 screaming little kids, just pretend you do and the kids will believe you do and they will start behaving. If a lesson falls flat on its face and I really don’t have a clue what I’m doing, I pretend I know exactly what I’m going and the kids believe me and the lesson doesn’t go badly at all. I had a lesson fall flat on it’s face on Tuesday with another new class I took over, so I improvised an activity on the spot which didn’t involve that much effort on my part but got the kids chatting and asking questions and looking for new words on their electronic dictionaries. The lesson was on Aliens and space exploration etc, the worksheets I’d given them were too hard (even for me but I wouldn’t tell them that!) and so I ditched everything and told them to describe to me what an alien looked like, and so as they described it’s body parts I’d draw them up on the board. This took a good 15 minutes and they used a lot of language and I used nothing. Then I got them to write a little story about the aliens and read them out. And then the class was over, and they all had a good time, were smiling throughout the lesson and practiced decent English.
In other news my Chinese is still improving and I can hold a better conversation now. I wish I’d studied more Chinese this week but I was just too busy with teaching, lesson planning and recovering from being ill and being worn out from teaching. Everytime I go the bars the barmaids comment on how much better my Chinese is, and that’s nice to know. Although I get a reality check every so often when I ask a stranger for something and they blurt out a whole sentence I can’t understand. I guess it’s going to take me a very long time before I can understand loads of Chinese, but I met a Chinese guy who seemed to be almost fluent in English and had only been studying English a year, I think I can reach the same level of spoken Chinese as his English in the same time if I keep going at this pace. Dunno about the reading and writing though, that’s a whole different story!
Also, I met a very interesting man from the North East of England at a bar last night. He was telling me how he’d been all over the world etc, telling me loads of interesting stories about all the places he’d been too. What fascinated me the most though was his current life in China. He has married a Chinese woman and they seemed like a very happy joyful couple from what I saw! And he said how she was earning a very similair wage to me, which is enough for them both to live on. I guess she’s maybe earning about 6,000-7,000RMB a month and they can both live on that, and she works in the textiles industry. He however, is an engineer and is earning about 500,000RMB a year. He said they don’t touch his earnings, they just live off her earnings and his company pays for their accomodation and bills so they have pretty much no living expenses. So right now, he has about 70,000 pounds in savings that he has no idea what to do with! Which has got me feeling very optomistic about my future! If I can get my chinese to a very, very decent level I think I would be very employable in this country in a lot of industries with the capability of earning a wage that is decent by British standards, add that to the cost of living in China and I can save a fortune! Well, that’s just a thought. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my future, maybe I’ll end up in England, which if I do then I will not be very well off. I’ve gained a very decent understanding of the fact that I am more employable in many other countries all over the world, not just for teaching English, with the ability to earn a fortune. I could go and earn a huge amount of money in Australia if I wanted, or I could learn a few languages and start working in business in various countries. I don’t think there’s much hope for me in England! I don’t like England, there’s things I miss, but in general England sucks, and every foreigner I’ve met out here who’s either from England or has been to England hates it. And they all say England has a very gloomy future. There are far better countries out there, and lots of them too! So, it will be interesting to see where I will have been in about 10 years time.
I’ve given you enough waffle to satisfy you for a while now, I’m gonna go and see if I can acquire some more illegal games for my Nintendo DS, and maybe some more illegal DVDs….This country rocks!1 2 3 4 19 Pages 7Dec06First Day >>>
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Posted from UK:
21 Jan 2007
21 Jan 2007
18 Oct 2011 – start of travelblog
posted Tuesday March 2007