Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just another day

Managed to get the cat to the veterinary clinic on Tuesday and got some deworming meds, one dose to be taken that day and a follow up to be taken in two weeks' time. I asked about vaccinations and was told that the only ones available here are rabies and fleas (I never heard of a shot for fleas before). I suspect that will make taking him out of China a nightmare, as he will almost certainly be quarantined without the vaccines that are standard back home.

The foreign teachers' dinner was nice, pretty relaxed, another "German" style BBQ place. Apparently in China "German" means BBQ, strangely costumed wait staff, and beer brewed on the premises. I think I ate more meat at that dinner than I've had in my entire stay in China.

Feeling under the weather and coughing up icky stuff - finally understanding why all the locals spit on the ground. Ugh. Maybe due to all the air pollution. The smog was bad today.

The water in the apartment has been off since around 3pm this afternoon (it's now after 10pm) and I don't expect it back before noon. There is a HUGE hole in the street where workers were digging earlier in the day which is now filled with dirty swirling water; I suspect they hit a water main or something. Who needs showers? Good thing I had my spare bucket full of water so I can wash my hands and flush the toilet at least once...

Stopped off at the little restaurant I frequent on the way home tonight for a quick dinner of noodle soup, only 5 RMB, yum. Ran into my co-worker there so we ate together, it was nice to have company.

The heaters in the apartment are so efficient that I have to open the window a bit at night even though I've turned the heater in the bedroom off. I may turn all of them off but the one in the bathroom. It is very nice to have a warm bathroom in the winter, especially as I must conserve water when showering (i.e., turn off the water when soaping/scrubbing) because (a) the more water I run, the more water I have to mop; and (b) the hot water tank is very small.

The new shoes are fairly comfortable, but not comfortable enough to make standing for 10 hours teaching really comfy. I might try some insoles if I can find them.

Yesterday there was a power outage for less than a minute, but my wireless router won't connect to the internet at all since then so I'm tethered to the desk again.

Need to get some sleep so I can beat this cold. Also need to drink more, I think I haven't been drinking nearly enough liquids lately. I've decided not to attend the meeting over at the main school in the morning, but will still be teaching promos in the afternoon and classes in the evening.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Warmth, and a typical work week

Today the heat was turned on in my apartment, yay! The heaters are a kind of radiator through which hot water runs. I don't know whether there is a charge for it or not, and frankly, I don't care, I will happily pay to be warm and comfortable. I was a bit nervous about this process, because when they turned on the heaters at my school two weeks ago, water shot out of several of them, flooding the floors, and then they were shut off for another week and a half. However, it seems to be just fine here in my apartment, no leaks so far.

This week will be a busy one, not much time to rest even on my days off (Monday and Tuesday).

Today (Monday), a Chinese colleague is supposed to help me take the cat to the vet this afternoon, but it's after 12:00 and I haven't heard from him yet...

This evening, the owner of the main school wants to take all of the foreign English teachers to dinner at a restaurant. This usually involves a lot of beer, which isn't really my thing. It's across town from here so will require a long taxi ride.

Tomorrow, the principal at my school has said she wants to take me shopping for a winter coat. This is good, because I'm neither a good judge of quality, nor good at bargaining to get a decent price.

On Wednesday, we will have a Chinese lesson over at the main school (an hour away), and we are being pressured strongly to attend. I'm not enthusiastic about it, because I usually use all day Wednesday and Friday to prepare the weekend's lessons. In the evening I have kindergarten classes.

On Thursday, the foreign teachers have our weekly meeting which lasts until noon, also an hour away. In the afternoon will be some special promotional classes to be taught at a local primary school, and in the evening, my kindergarten classes.

On Friday, I will try to get all the lessons done that I couldn't on Wednesday and teach kindergarten in the evening.

Saturday and Sunday I teach nine hours each day, from 8am to 8pm, which pretty much speaks for itself.

There you have it, my typical work week.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The Chinese official first day of Autumn was back when it was still incredibly hot, in August, but just the last two weeks the weather has finally changed... and FAST. Two weeks ago I was wearing shorts and capris; now I'm wearing earmuffs, scarf, gloves in the morning. On sunny days, the afternoons are glorious and the temps are in the high 60's.

Ever since the first day of autumn, people here have been commenting on my clothing, because they begin wearing fall clothes on the first day of fall (shockingly, I still dress according to the weather, so when it's warm I wear short sleeves). It will actually be a relief when it's cold enough to wear a parka all the time so people will stop telling me how to dress.

Yesterday I went to a shoe store downtown that a colleague recommended and dropped an American price for a pair of good black leather hiking boots for work for the winter. I hope they feel as comfortable after 10 hours in the classroom as they did in the shop.

Finding things to love...

Sometimes I get too focused on the things I don't like in my surroundings, so I need to remind myself to look for things to love.

In China, people often hold hands (women) or link arms (women or men) with same-sex friends. I love this show of gentle affection, and am always surprised and very touched when a friend takes my arm while walking.

While waiting at a bus stop today, an elderly man who was waiting with his wife asked me where I was from (in Chinese). When I told him, he replied, "America". He then mustered up the English he had learned fifty years ago to converse briefly. He smiled and waved from the bus window as his bus pulled away. It was sweet and made me smile.

My students. (When they are not misbehaving!) They can be cute and sweet and funny and enthusiastic and affectionate, and teaching children has been a thousand times better than I had imagined it would be.

Chinese food. Not only do I like the food here, I have lost around 30 pounds/15 kg so far. Of course, there are some foods here that are so alien they frighten me, but I'm able to pick and choose the things I want to eat, which suits me very well.