Aaaah. Well it's been one of those weeks.
Not much happened towards the end of last week as we were still so skint and actually quite busy.
I had to do speech training on Saturday for competitors who have got through the first round of the oral english competition we hvae to judge that they have over here, called Star of Outlook. There was about 16 students in the class which was a nice change from 1, 2 or 3 students that we've been having! It was really good fun and we had a really good lesson from 9-1pm, but it all started going down bank from there.
Sunday was the 10th which at IH is supposed to be payday. Note 'supposed to be'. However, being the weekend, we let it slide that finance don't work and therefore we'd have to wait until monday to get our money. Then monday came.
We got up as usual to go to our chinese lesson at school and decided that we'd pick up our money in the break. However, as soon as we walked out of the classroom, a dogsbody from upstairs called Jason came to us to tell us that nobody would be getting their money. Now after I had my purse stolen and the school didnt help me in the slightest, I had only 8 mao (80p) to my name, after I'd budgeted really strictly to make sure i wouldnt run out before payday, so being me, I flipped. I stormed upstairs to demand our money and after a heated few mintues of me explaining that, as interns in particular, the money given to us is not a wage it is a living allowance and therefore needed to live on we managed to make sure that we would be paid before 3pm that day. It seems you have to demnad everything you've got a right to at that school and despite the wad of cash they got out of the safe to give us our money, they told everyone else that the school didnt have enough money to pay anyone. Clearly they didnt bank on us being so ballsy but I think they forgot that we're British and don;t accept being treated like slaves as they do with their own kind.
However, what added insult to injury, was at 2.30pm when we went to collect our money we were told that, although they hadnt docked our money this time, if we were late for kindergarten again next month they would. This came totally out of the blue and at which point not only me, but Emma flipped too. Kindergarten has been the bane of our time here as it is, with the ridiculous lessons, the trouble the teachers have caused and everything else and we were not happy. It didnt take long for 2 managers to get involved who we told plainly that they were totally out of order for a number of reasons, such as that we weren't late for kindergarten, we arent trained for kindergarten and shouldnt be going anyway- it's a favour for them because they have no one else and that the money they say they wanted to dock is not wages its a living allowance and therefore is unchangeable- particularly when they request all the riiculous things they do from us and we get paid less than half of a normal teacher there. Emma told them that if they threatened us again, she would complain, to which they said that they werent threatening us and the mix up was due to the culture shock we were having adjusting to China. The audacity! Sarah had also joined in at this point and told them plainly, if kindergarten is going to cause this much trouble, we would refuse to go again at which point they started trying to make out that they agreed with us. We'll see next month what excuse they come up with to dock our pay. It has come to light the last week just how little the managers there care for all the staff, not just us and how little they care about the quality of the school- it's all about saving every last penny.
After calming down a bit, and as it seems that someone has finally got through to kindergarten slightly (as it was OK today), I don't feel as deflated and as angry with the job as yesterday. The staff and the students are so good there, we've just been having to think about the positives and the experience we're getting and try to all support each other- if it's bad sometimes here, at least the next job I get can't be worse and you have to live and learn i suppose.
This little epiphany only came when we managed to blow off some steam though! Having got our money by demanding it and after the crap week being skint and all the trouble we've had and just being sick of one thing after another, we decided to go out for a few drinks. We went to a really nice hostel bar called Park Qin in the city for happy hour where tequila sunrises were 2 for 20 yuan (£2). It's a really nice atmosphere down there, and is also an expat place so you can meet other chinese and westerners at the same time. We got talking to a few people and just had a night not talking about school! It does seem like every other white person you meet is a teacher as well though. It seems to be the trend that not many people actually really travel china and only come for work. It was good to get to know a few people though and practice our chinese with a couple of blokes who were really nice and just wanted to chat and who bought the driks for us. I admit that being blonde and blue eyed is an asset over here, even with the girls who tell you constantly that you're beautiful.
After kindergarten today, me and sarah also had a really nice afternoon in the glorious 26 degree weather- which was nicely accompanied by wind, so I wasnt dying! We attempted to go shopping for some summer clothes for sarah, but to be honest this flopped quite badly when we realized that all the shops only sell clothes made for the 6 inch waisted mannequins. I've got no idea where the fatter people get their clothes from, we're pretty sure they have to sew 2 or 3 items together. We also found that the prices dont reflect the cost of living rate either when a normal black top with a slight embroidered bit on was the equivalent of £93 in one shop. I did manage to pick up a really nice little purse to replace my new zealand one though, so it wasnt all bad.
So that's it for now- the rants over for this time and we'll see what the next few days bring! Hopefully we'll try to go out and see a few more sights and things now we've got a bit of money again.
I'll update again when the next catastrophe happens... :P