My first working week is now done and I've experienced many new things, some good, some not so good. The 'Chinese take -away' pictured cost me 3 kuai (14 to the pound) and was a delicious mixture of vegetable and meat dishes with rice, plus a pair of chopsticks. It's really not necessary to cook as eating out is so cheap.
I have been buying fruit and vegetables at the local markets. All the produce sold is whatever is in season so it's really tasty and fresh. The local dialects are impossible and I don't expect I'm getting bargains by local standards.
Even the supermarket was an adventure. It would seem an easy thing to buy stuff to clean the flat, wouldn't it? Not so. Without a picture on the tin, bottle or whatever it's anybody's guess what's inside. So, armed with dictionary I attempted to ask. Foolish idea - I was, within moments, surrounded by about 10 young female assistants who couldn't understand a word I was saying. The dictionary further foxed them and I was directed to washing up bowls, dishcloths, you name it. I was rescued by a young man who said I was his teacher ( he's in my TV class), so in broken English I got (more or less ) what I wanted and bolted from the shop, followed by many pairs of eyes.
The students have been great and those majoring in English particularly polite and charming. Would my English students 'love me as their parent' as you can see in the messages amongst the photos. They are so welcoming and pleased that you are there to help them improve their language skills and knowledge.
On the downside, the plague of cockroaches in the flat wasn't pleasant. I discovered the first one, an enormous beast, in a glass of milk that I'd left un-drunk because it was sweetened. Luckily I didn't pick the glass up in the dark and resume drinking. Fortunately I discovered a can of beastie spray in the flat, easily recognisable by picture on can of nasty bug things. I have become an expert in zapping them from several paces and seem to have eliminated the problem. If I get up in the night though I make sure I put the light on so things don't go crunch in the night!
What else. Today was 'teachers' day. We had a full staff meeting 'starting' at 2:30, eventually kicking off at around 3pm with 15 dignitaries on stage. We stood for the National Anthem then the Party leader spoke for around 20 minutes and, although I don't know Chinese, I'm pretty sure he wasn't cracking any jokes. I did hear the Chinese for 'work' several times. Then it was someone else's turn, then...then.. Then they gave out awards for excellent teachers who had contributed a lot to the college. After that came the speech competition. 8 people took part,6 teachers and 2 students. Each spoke on a theme to do with teaching, from memory, for 10 minutes and was awarded a score. The scores were 95.61, 94.37 or 96.15 etc, incredible. The participants and audience took it all very seriously. The winner spoke, I am told, of the inspirational teaching she'd received from a University teacher. It was done with such intensity, passion and often unbearable stridency. There is no equivalent performance in England.
Tomorrow is the Military training passing- out parade. They've been working 12 hours a day for 2 weeks, marching and shouting. More photos later, I hope.
The College students have such a different life here. Their time -tables are full from 8am until evening. They live in dormitories, have no washing facilities in their dormitories having to go to the communal block for a shower, which they pay for, or wash at the sinks outside. In classes they have to do a duty- day when they sweep the classroom after each lesson. Dormitories are locked and lights-out is at 11pm. Often the dormitory lights are not on in the evenings so they have to find somewhere else to go. The students are 18-21.
My 1st week here has been fascinating. Keep telling me your news too.