Week 1 – Just Dive In

First week of teaching (ever) down, and I feel pretty good about it! Although, I had a few students/classes that gave me trouble, but that is inevitable. For the most part the kids that I teach are good kids who work really hard. I originally was going to try and learn all their names, either Chinese or English, but with over 800 students I’m now realizing that that probably isn’t going to happen. I can barely remember what I did three days ago (and no I haven’t been drinking… o.k. one glass of wine. FINE! Two), let alone remember the names of 800+ students that I only see once a week. Now if you know me you know that I have never been a big softy for children. They are just not really my thing. Before everyone gasps with horror that I’m teaching children and am not their number one fan, deep breath, don’t worry. I am actually not bad with kids (probably because there is a little girl sitting in a Halloween costume inside me still wanting to play with Melanie Malls and Hot Wheels), but nevertheless I find myself sorta …kinda …maybe …just a little bit enjoying this teaching thing. Karen, I’ll wait for the ‘I told you so’. Maybe it appeals to my inner drama queen, and I like being essentially the center of attention. Maybe I enjoy molding the minds of children with my opinions. No, that’s not it. Ignore that last one. Whatever it is, with this first week down I can definitely say that I’m still a little apprehensive about teaching, but I am also looking forward to the next year. I really do think I can learn a lot as well.

It will take some getting used to the schedule that I have. I wake up at 6 every morning to go to the track and supervise the students as they do their morning run. The teachers are encouraged to run with the students, and they only run about half a mile, but I am a little worried that I won’t be able to keep up with the students… is that bad? Don’t answer that. I started running at the track with my neighbor and fellow English teacher on Sunday, but it is difficult to find time to run other than the weekends because the track is constantly being used. I went again during the week and there were a lot of students also there practicing various sports. I felt almost naked being around the students in normal clothes. Like I should have been running in my dress and heels instead of my track pants, T-shirt and sneakers. I plan on running with the students eventually… I do! I really do! Scouts honor! But I want to make sure I won’t embarrass myself in front of the cute gym teacher. No one wants that.

 

I traveled by bus and by the one subway that Hangzhou has for the first time on Saturday. My neighbor and I went to the mall and to the West Lake, which Hangzhou is famous for. Image

When I talk about my neighbor I mean the English teacher who picked me up from the train station when I first arrived. She has been an absolute life saver. I owe her so much! The West Lake was really pretty, and I especially loved all the willow trees around.Image

It is my goal at some point to walk all the way around it. It will probably take the whole day, with breaks for the obnoxious amount of pictures I will take. I also had my first encounter with public restrooms at the mall. For those of you who don’t know, in China most public restrooms are the, how do I put this nicely, squat over a hole that flushes kind. So there’s that. It really isn’t that different from going camping and ‘nature peeing’ which I’m used to, but with more aim needed. Too graphic? Sorry. I must also remember to bring tissue packets…everywhere. 

If I’m being totally honest, this wasn’t my first encounter with squoilets, as I like to call them. I almost used one on the train that I took from Beijing to Hangzhou. But I chickened out at the last minute and waited for another bathroom. I didn’t want my first run in with a squoilet to be one that was literally moving 70 miles an hour. Can you blame me? This is all part of the adventure though and I am loving every minute of it!! 🙂 Here is me: shiny, sweaty and happy.Image

Well, it is time to take myself to bed and probably have nightmares about speeding squoilets outrunning me in front of cute gym teachers. Terrifying. 

Goodnight from Hangzhou 🙂 

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