Sept 19th – Okay, I am officially the worst blogger ever.
Big apologies for the incredibly late blog writing posts!!! August flew by with a packed month of orientation, then moving/adjusting to my new city, and lesson planning and teaching has kept me very busy as well! Knowing myself, I know I’ll never catch up if I start from the very first week of August up to now, therefore, I’ll share where I’m at now and work backwards to sum up my weeks in other posts (hopefully those will be written before I leave China…just kidding, I’ll do my best).
What’s happened recently and where are you now?
It already feels like ages but I’ve only been in my placement site, a city called Hengyang (HY) for 3 full weeks. As I mentioned to many friends back home, HY is the 2nd largest city in the Hunan province with 5 districts and a population of 7 million. After orientation ended, on Fri morning, Aug. 26th, each of our school liaisons traveled to Changsha to pick up my peers and I and take us to our respective placement sites where we’d be living for the rest of the year. Hengyang (HY) is only a 2.5 hour drive from Changsha and after hours of documentation delays in the capital city, my liaison K and I finally made it to HY late Friday evening.
Where do you live and what’s your neighborhood like?
My district is called Huaxin and it’s a nice suburban area, very quiet compared to bustling Changsha and it’s an easy bus ride to downtown HY. A great perk of my living situation is that I’m literally a 3-5 min walk from YiZhong (my school) where I teach/work. There’s little shops and restaurants on both sides of my apartment gates and many things are either within walking, bus, or taxi distance.
My apartment is very nice and spacious, especially just for 1 person living in it! I definitely feel a little spoiled since the size of my apt is the size of what a typical Chinese family would live in. The only bad part is I live on the 6th floor so when I first arrived, our poor driver had to lug my giant suitcases up 6 flights of stairs and was panting by the time he got to the top. Let’s just say, before I leave my apt, I always try to make sure I’ve got everything with me before I have to climb the mountain of stairs again. Oh and I’m expecting to get really nice calves by the end of the year (jokes jokes, but seriously). My apt is a 2-bedroom, 2 bathroom (1 western toilet, 1 squat) space with a living room, dining room, kitchen, little balcony, and little laundry room. Having been in a hotel and a suitcase in August, it was VERY nice to finally be able to do a little laundry and unpack.
What’s your work schedule like?
Luckily I don’t teach on Mondays (hello 3-day weekends!). I’ll talk in more detail about my experience teaching in a later post but for now, here’s a brief intro: I teach at YiZhong Hengyang (aka No. 1 Middle School in Hengyang). In China, schools can be called “No. 1, No.2, No.3..etc” but it doesn’t always mean your school is the top school. Also, although my school is called “Middle School”, the students are all in high school. Each week, I teach 16 oral English classes to almost the entire Senior 1 grade (aka high school Freshman). I teach the following: Tues – 3 classes, Wed – 3 classes, Thurs – 5 classes, Fri – 5 classes and I have over 50 students in every class.
So, what do you do when you’re not teaching?
My first day of teaching was Thurs, Sept 1st. Although I’m starting my 4th week in HY, I still feel like I’m adjusting to everything! I’m still in the process of cleaning my apartment (it had been sitting unused for a few months), wander my residential area, discover food spots and buy things for my new home, lesson planning, and continually catching up on some much needed sleep. There’s 5 other foreigners at my school who aren’t in my program but they teach in our schools “International Department.” Two are from the States and actually did my program last year in another city, a British man who’s been living in China for 5+ years with his family, and a couple from the UK and Poland (the couple live right across from me in our building).
So that’s my life in a little nutshell right now. More posts soon 🙂 And big thanks for all y’all’s patience…And I’m ending this post with a picture of me eating one of my favorite things: oodles of noodles.