Thursday, March 4, 2010

February 27th: Teaching schedule!

The Pratts—Colonel, Kelly, and their children Cyprus and Aolani—finally arrived late last night. They were supposed to be on my flight on Wednesday, but their plane out of Chicago was canceled, and they’ve had a time being shuffled around for two extra days to get here. And I thought my trip was long!

All of us English teachers here at the East campus met up at 10:00 to go and get our class schedules for this semester. Once we arrived at the building across campus and waited a bit, they produced a stack of schedules. We spread them out across the desk and compared them, and then picked which we wanted. Those teaching oral classes have eight classes a week; those teaching writing have only four, since the writing classes involve a lot of time outside of class reading essays and correcting papers. I volunteered to take one of the writing schedules, since I’m used to teaching English. Most of the others who haven’t taught before would prefer the oral classes, but I think the writing classes actually will be easier for me. I’d rather have something concrete to work on than try to keep a discussion going for two hours.

My schedule is quite interesting—I have five days a week off! I have a class on Monday at two, and then three classes on Friday at eight, ten, and two. All are the same sophomore writing class, so I’ll just have one lesson to prepare each week. Fridays will be tiring, but I think it will be worth it to have such a flexible schedule on other days. I’ll have about 120 writing assignments to read each week, though.

After getting our schedules, a bunch of us went for lunch together at a little restaurant near the school. Tabby and Casey were with us, and Tabby speaks Chinese pretty well, so she ordered everything for us. In China, a group meal is different from what we are used to in the states. Everyone sits around a round table with a huge lazy Susan in the middle. Each person has their own bowl and chopsticks, and hot water is served to drink. (You can bring your own drink in from outside if you wish; someone ran and got a bottle of orange juice from the supermarket down the street). Each person doesn’t order a meal for themselves; instead, the group orders together, as many dishes as there are people. The waitress puts all the dishes on the lazy susan, and then everyone shares them, eating a helping of this and a helping of that, family-style. It’s a great way to try a lot of different kinds of food, since we had eleven dishes on the table. All of them were good—sweet and sour pork, spring rolls, fried eggplant, fried corn, carrots and pork, chicken and tomatoes, lotus root, and more that I can’t remember.

In the afternoon, I went with Casey and Tabby to take the Pratts, who had just arrived the night before, to RT Mart to get some groceries and basic things for their apartment. We took two taxis. The taxis are pretty cheap—only about $1.30 each way, nearly nothing when divided among three or four people. I got a few more things for my apartment—another plant, a few little cacti, a couple of plates, some knives, some brilliantly green and gold pillows for the couch, and a set of sheets. It’s beginning to look like a home in here; I figure if I’m going to be here all year I might as well nest a bit.

In the evening, we met the McFarlands, and Evelyn went with Tabby, Kelly, Aolani, and me to a dinner at the house of a Chinese woman. We had a ladies’ night with a good group of Chinese friends. Some of them are students or professors at my university, so hopefully I will run into them again on campus.
When I got back to my apartment, not too late—just 7:45, I thought I would get some more cleaning done and do some more laundry. However, I felt tired as soon as I sat down, so I read for a little while and then ended up going to bed at nine. It must be the jet lag, but I’ve been a morning person ever since I arrived—I laze around in the evening and go to bed early, but wake up early and energetic. Most of my cleaning has been done first thing in the morning. It’s very unlike me—I’m a night owl! Usually, I accomplish very little of note before noon, and my most productive time is at night. I’m sure it’ll pass in time...

The Chinese cities are mostly concrete; the buildings themselves are rather drab and utilitarian. However, they liberally decorate with light. I have seen fireworks every day I have been here so far (of course, it is still the spring festival). Not just a few bottle rockets; big, booming, fourth-of-July fireworks. Even when it’s raining. Even during the day. And several of the larger hotels—and the police headquarters—are outlined with intricate neon lights. Nightly, beacons of colored light sweep the sky from the rooftop of a building across the moat.


Anonymous said...

I like the architectural tidbits. Are there any other buildings that have interesting designs?
Love Me,
BW (kermit)

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