A Travellerspoint blog

November 5th, 2009


overcast 6 °C

I've never followed trends. Well actually, that's not exactly true. I tried to follow trends as a teenager but eventually gave up when I realized they didn't make fashionable clothes for my body type! Now, I just wear basic jeans, sneakers and bright colored sweaters. I dress for comfort both physical (hence the sneakers) and emotional (hence the bright sweaters). That being said, once in a while I like to shake it up and don some trendier clothes! In Paris, I've noticed, women wear the same variations of black and drab year after year. (It boggles me why they don't want to embrace color! Paris winters are drab enough as it is without adding to the gloom!) And in Beijing? Well, women sure like to experiment! For the most part, women like color and don't mind matching plaid with flowers or adding socks to tights. Yet, unlike New Yorkers, they aren't ostentatious with their clothes. There's still a casualness to how they dress, which is refreshing! I think because the Chinese are so business savvy and money-conscious, they see high fashion as what it is: a useless waste of their money!

Posted by Evil1 04:42 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

November 4th, 2009

Learning Chinese!

semi-overcast 8 °C

Before I came to China, I tried learning some Chinese. I bought myself a couple of books (5 total) and searched the internet for resources. It wasn't long before I could say "this is my older brother", "I'm American" and "where are the bathrooms?" I seriously couldn't understand why everyone thought it a difficult language! There are no past, or future tenses, no articles, and the vocabulary is incredibly logical. Take "panda" for instance. Literally it translates as "big bear cat". That makes perfect sense! A panda is big like a bear and as cute as a cat! What else? Every day of the week is numbered: moon 1, moon 2, etc. Matter of fact, each month is numbered too!

And how about the characters, you might ask? The books traced the "etimology" of the major characters and the original pictograms made sense! No, what really trips me, especially now that I'm in China, is the pinyin! My Chinese pronunciation is far removed from the actual language! My efforts at bragging are usually met with blank stares. But then again, maybe that's because no one flies kites anymore these days in Beijing!!!

Posted by Evil1 07:45 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

November 3rd, 2009

Teaching teenagers

sunny 4 °C

So last time, I freaked out a little bit for nothing. Turns out that was a half a month's wage! Thank goodness! I also realized that I don't need to be at work by 12-noon every day and that I could just waltz in about 30 minutes before my classes started! Yesterday, I came in at 11:30 AM and got a bit mad when none of the other teachers arrived! (The 2 other teachers scheduled to work Mondays didn't show up until 6 PM!)

Well anyhoo, I want to apologize again (and for the last time, I promise) for not writing in here earlier. I had a 6 day work week this week and my brain cells just couldn't handle another task! My colleague Colin took the week-end off to visit some friends in Siberia (not my idea of a vacation but to each their own!) So I got to cover his classes! He had been kind enough to prepare lesson plans for me but I had failed to probe him sufficiently on his students.

I was not particularly nervous about my Saturday classes as I only had 2 two hour classes classes versus 7 hours of teaching on Sunday. But maybe I should have been! The first class went well enough with cute 7 and 8 year olds, content with coloring and cutting tasks! The second class was a teenager class. I decided to "warm up" with a simple introduction exercise.

"Hi. I'm _________. I'm covering for Colin. He'll be back next week. I'm 27 years old and I've been in China for three weeks now."

I realized as the class progressed that my introduction was a monumental mistake. They now knew that I was young, relatively inexperienced, that I knew virtually no Chinese and that as a substitute teacher, I would not hold them accountable for their behavior! So they started to speak loudly in Chinese to one another and within the first 30 minutes of class, one of them rudely interrupted me with his fake snoring.

I thanked the heavens that I had planned a backup in case I couldn't get them to speak for two hours (as Colin had intended in his lesson plan!). I took out the internet article that I had printed out earlier (just in case) and handed each student a text. At the break, I was close to tears wondering how I'd survive the next hour of class. But Dylan cheered me up. He said, "always remember that you're the boss in there."

Posted by Evil1 02:24 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

October 30th, 2009

About money and moods

overcast 10 °C

Yesterday was pay day. I had been looking forward to it because the last couple of days I'd been striving to get by on roughly 20 dollars. It's possible over here, given how cheap the food is. But I longed to be able to live without stressing over expenses. I'll have to wait another few months for that! When I went to check my pay at the ATM, I was thoroughly dismayed. I won't disclose my salary here, but I definitely felt I was being taken for a ride. Along with everything else, I was cheap, cheap labor. Granted, I have to reimburse my employer 2,500 RMB the first 4 months because he gave me a loan for the deposit on my apartment. But still, my salary will barely enable me to reimburse my college loans or help me pay for Chinese lessons (which incidentally my school promised they'd pay for but still hasn't organized!). Arg! So last night and today have been a bit bleak for me. Am hoping Mike can come join me soon!

Posted by Evil1 19:33 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

October 29th, 2009

Halloweeeeennnn!!!! Moua- ha- ha!!!!!

semi-overcast 23 °C

Ah! Habits! Here it is, I've gone yet another day without posting! Please forgive me, dear and faithful reader. As a virgo, I'm prone to being conscientious, detail-oriented and generally pretty anal about order. So I should excel at keeping good habits, such as posting in my blog daily, right? That would seem like the logical outcome. But maybe my moon sign and my solar sign are in conflict and Jupiter is eclipsing Saturn this month and to make matters worse, my room isn't feng shui!?! If only I knew! Ok, maybe It's more likely that I just got up late again yesterday and spent last night chatting on Skype with Mike!

But I digress. Yesterday we had out first Halloween party for the children at the school. (We are scheduled to have our second and last one tonight). Danielle (the bubbly South African who also happens to be our senior teacher) had us coming at 11 AM to prep for the party that wasn't scheduled to start until 6 PM! She summoned the teachers to yet another meeting. I had suggested last time that we have a raffle instead of a costume contest, since most students probably weren't going to show up in elaborate costumes and judging who had the best costume out of each age group seemed too gosh-darn complicated! But Danielle didn't seem to have understood my rationale and was now proposing that we have several raffles (for each age groups) and several costume contests (for each age group as well)! She also believed that the raffle tickets should include a number as well as the child's age group. I was amazed by how she managed to turn my simple idea into such a complicated affair! Thankfully, the raffle idea was soon dropped and the meeting adjourned.

The teachers split up and started dressing the rooms with Halloween-inspired art. We were allocated 8 different rooms: haunted house, pumpkin bowling, speed mummy-wrap, pin the tail on the black cat, mask creation, musical chairs, face painting and coloring. I was assigned to the face painting room along with Beverly, a local teacher and a teacher's assistant. It must have taken us 2 hours tops to decorate our room and set up our supplies! Meanwhile, Danielle was running around like a chicken without its head, rushing to purchase more crayons and scissors at neighboring stores. I'm sure we would have been fine with the stock we had but I got the sense that Danielle would not have felt she was pulling her weight if she hadn't been busy every minute of that day!

I spent the remainder of yesterday helping Emily carve out pumpkin faces and bats out of black trash bags, chit-chatting with my colleagues and unsuccessfully trying to prepare for my week-end classes! (I'm starting to understand why my colleagues complain about the textbook!) My head started to throb from the mindlessness of it all and I wondered whether I'd be able to stay awake to greet the kids. At about 5 PM, Beverly, Colin and I started painting each other's faces with spider webs and scars. Danielle arrived a few minutes later with Minnie ears and requested whiskers and a red nose.

"Oh no, she said looking at her reflection in the mirror. Now I look like I have an enormous zit on my nose!"

"Do you want me to wipe it off ?" Beverly asked sweetly.

"No. No. That's fine. I'll just have people thinking I'm younger than I am. I hate how people always act surprised when I tell them I'm 30." Danielle lamented.

The solution seemed rather clear to me. But I kept my mouth shut.

A few minutes before the party began, Danielle summoned all the teachers and teacher's assistants to the back room. She perched herself (Minnie ears, painted whiskers and nose) onto a chair and I prepped myself for her inspiring speech. It didn't come. She simply thanked us twice for all our hard work. Couldn't she just have said that from the ground?

Posted by Evil1 18:58 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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