Although the main purpose of this blog is to inform family and friends about my time in China, I can’t help but use the platform to offer advice to my fellow readers. Whilst I won’t be presenting the latest financial tips (a portfolio of equities and bonds is surely the best way to offset risk in a delicate economic climate) or commenting on something as trivial as sports (come on Man Utd), I will be talking about little things that have annoyed me. Kind of like grumpy old men, but, well, for the kids.
The first topic I would like to bring to your attention is Netbooks. You know the things – tiny little laptops that masquerade as actual working computers. DO NOT BE FOOLED. I was sucked in. “It’s portable, it’s light, you can take it to Starbucks and be trendy.” – I was told. However if you actually want your little midget computer to do anything more than turn on /off you’re bang out of luck. Silly little things like opening programs can become long, drawn-out affairs. After two crashes – and a lot of sweet talking – I have finally gotten my little smasher to have Itunes and Firefox open at the same time. Quite a feat. I can hear the employees from Packard Bell quietly chuckle as they read this on their full size laptops – I hope you feel bad. If you ever find yourself considering buying one, just breeze on past to the Macbooks: they may be about 5 times the price, but they have this cool little rock band game where you can make songs. Oh, and they work properly.
Back into the swing of teaching after a couple of days off. My first lesson last night involved the youngest kids I have taught so far, around 9-10 year olds. Initially I was told this class would have a test, so no need for me to prepare anything; of course when I arrived the teacher had kindly decided to move the test to the next period! Cue a rushed lesson plan and a lot of games. My second lesson was far more subdued and involved teaching days of the week to a class of 11 year olds. I got the impression that teaching days of the week would be a simple affair; but when, at the end of the lesson, I asked “What day is it today?”, I was greeted with every response except Wednesday. Brilliant.
I am now more realistic about what my time teaching in China will achieve. As a foreign teacher in my school I have no regular classes and will see the same students once every month or so (there are 5000 students and growing!). This is obviously nowhere near enough to make any difference to their levels of spoken English, but if I can excite at least some of the kids to carry on the subject into high school and possibly university, then I guess my time here will have been worth it.
After school I went to have deep fried dumplings in a little restaurant near my apartment. I say restaurant, I really mean a shoe box with 5 tables. In China this is the norm and when I asked my Chinese friend why this is so, she said that ‘people prefer to eat in places that are really busy’, which I guess makes sense because you know the food will be good. Which it was. The dumplings were the best I have had so far. I’m teaching in the same school tonight, so might have to be rolled home after a second helping!