Two weeks down thirty-eight to go.
School. I forgot what it is like to work a 12-14 hour day. It am amazed at how much time it takes to prep for my classes every day. I am glad my work load is not greater because I have serious doubts if I could keep up. Just from a purely mathematical standpoint let’s look at marking papers. I gave a vocabulary quiz, there were 9 fill in the blanks and then students were to use the same 9 words to create their own sentences. If I spend two minutes per paper with 90 students that is 180 minutes or three hours. Last week, I had two graded assignments which took 6 hours to grade and they were the most rudimentary assignments, a vocab quiz and a notebook check. Chinese students are bad at organization and we are working on note taking skills. I believe part of the challenges is the students have not been exposed to a western system and western thought about organization. We are working on this process with them. The Chinese students are great to work with. They are very respectful and helpful. The class is easy to manage because there is no disrespect and students will what you ask.
Not school. Riding my bike to work and around the city is an adventure. It is a free-for-all. Traffic laws are a suggestion at best. I have had a couple of close calls with cars and other electric bikes but speed are low so a collision would most likely not be fatal. I really enjoy riding my bicycle is beats dealing with the bus and I get some exercise every day. I can be to school in about 10 minutes from my apartment.
Crimes or not crimes when it comes to vice is interesting. Around the city there are karaoke bars some legitimate others are houses of ill repute. While prostitution is illegal there is a tacit understood with the authorities because many of the karaoke bars that are big, public, and glitzy. In talking with some of the other teachers that have been here for a while the government just turns its head on many vice crimes and it is public and out in the open.
I was coming back from dinner with several staff members and it was about 10 pm on a Friday night and many restaurants were closing and the rapid bus which I take to and from my apartment to downtown quits running at 9:45p.m. Very early for a busy city center, so I ended up walking back. While I have not been out very late I feel safe in the city and have not experienced any problems. I like all westerners tend to get looked at by the locals. Westerners are very rare here so we definitely draw the attention of the locals.
Today, Stephen, Nick and I went on a little expedition to find a shopping store called the Metro. It is like a Costco and has lots of western products. I was able to find coffee beans, a French press, they had coffee makers, espresso machine and I also purchased a coffee bean grinder. No more of the crappy Nescafé. I also found my favorite ice cream bar, Magnums so I was very excited. The three of us were very excited with the selection because we could find lots of western products.
While washing cloths this morning my washing machine (in the kitchen) sprang a leak and began to leak water on the floor. I had to call one of the office assistants from school to call the landlord to translate. We got it worked out. The repairman is coming out tomorrow to fix the broken hose. Over here a minor problem is much more challenging to resolve because of the language barrier. I wanted to learn Chinese but with my work schedule there is no free time so I have been trying to learn a few new words every week. I know several words and one phrase with time I will get some basic conversation figured out. In certain ways Chinese is easier to learn because you don’t have to worry about subject verb agreement but there are a number of tones so one word could mean 4 different things depending on how you pronounce the word so it takes some work.