Update, death list & Tv star

It’s been so long since I wrote a blog post that I barely remember how it’s done… I guess I should give a brief summary of what has happened since March 11. We have quite a normal every day life right now. Work from Monday to Friday, and then weekends off. During the weekends we often have fun things to do. But now I can’t think about anything haha… We have had our first trips to the beach! May the 1st, it was about 30 degrees, so we spent that day on the beach. (We had Thursday-Saturday off because it was Labour Day in China. Since most people are employed by the government, they are given three days off to show appreciation for the hard work. However, we all have to make the free days off, so we worked Sunday. Don’t even get me started, I do not see the logic at all.) But the day at the beach was wonderful! The International beach, our closest beach, is absolutely beautiful. It is huge, and the sand is nice and soft. The only issue is all the unwanted attention we get… I don’t mind taking a photo with someone who asks if they can take one, but when you are surrounded with 10 people trying to sneak a photo of you… Well that brings the devil out of me! Rosie went for a swim and that caused commotion… It must have been 20 people standing there watching her. We had to sneak her out of the water with a towel ready. Other than the fact that we are now on picture on about 1000 phones, the beach is great! There are many nice restaurants and shops. During summer the beach is supposed to be filled with tourists from all over China, and apparently Russia as well. We enjoy the rather empty spaces for now.

 

We have recently discovered a masseuse who does wonders for our poor bodies. We had our first session last weekend, and right now I am waiting for my second. I am a bit worried about this time, since last time she did something called “Gua sha” (take a look at the picture, or google it…) Appearantly, it cures colds, which I had at the time. And sure, I feel better now. The night after the massage however, I slept for ten hours, and the following day I took a 3-hour nap. I was shattered for about two days after it, but now I feel more alive than ever! So I guess it was good.

IMG_2010Please ignore the mess…

The upcoming weekends we got a few plans, such as going to Qingdao, which is a bigger city around 4 hours from Weihai. It is supposed to be beautiful. We also plan on climbing one of the most famous mountains in China, Tai Shan. Most people climb it during the night, so they can see the sunrise! That’s what we plan on doing. We will bring a blanket and picnic, and sleep for a few hours at the top, and enjoy the sunrise. I am a bit worried about it being really steep, and obviously pitch black since we are climbing it during the night, but oh well. I have already accepted the fact that I’m going to die in China. There are so many ways you can die here haha…. Here’s the list of death traps I have discovered so far:

  • Traffic. Chinese traffic is c-r-a-z-y. You basically risk your life every time going by car o bus. The only rule is that there are no rules… Seat belt is unheard of, and seeing cars driving against the traffic is nothing special.
  • Collapsing ground. In Beijing there was a woman who died after the pavement collapsed under her, and she fell down in 90 degrees hot water. More than one time I have stepped on lids on the ground that have cracked…
  • Electrocuting showers. This is what I experienced about a month ago, when I was having a shower in our apartment. The tap all of the sudden gave me multiple strong electrical shocks! After a loud scream my housemate came to my rescue, and told the “slightly” chocked me to go into the other shower. That one was the same though. This is now “fixed”. Every time we want a shower, we have to unplug all the sockets, and then plug them back in afterwards in order to get hot water.
  • Slip and hit your head in the kitchen. Our pipes leaked and filled our kitchen with water. Unknowing of the danger that awaited me, I walked in the kitchen and slipped. That time it went well, but the pipes have already started leaking a second time so it’s just a matter of time before we slip again.
  • Choking on metal. In Beijing while eating my food, I found a metal piece about three centimetres long in my food. Thank god I didn’t swallow it that time.

To be continued… Don’t get me wrong, I love China! It is an everyday adventure. There is not one day that looks like the other. I’ve had earthquake drills, spontaneous dinners with total strangers and many encounters with lovely people. China definitely gives me a thicker skin. By the way! Here’s a clip from Weihai local TV which I star in (don’t let the Chinese page scare you, just play the video!). They filmed me my first day, my first lesson… (Please excuse the weird nature of my interview, I didn’t realize you had such a clear vision of my nostrils.) I am the first girl in the clip! The other lovely girl is one of my housemates, Maura, who teaches at a school just about 300 metres from mine. Click here. (http://www.hcvw.cn/index.php?m=content&c=index&a=show&catid=201&id=43258 )

 

That’s it for now (I don’t know if you had the patience to read all of it) and I guess my next post will be in a month or two! (No, I will get better, promise).

IMG_2039Picture of m jumping high jump on my school’s sports day!

P1070123The school I work at, Jinhua Primary school

P1050886Us three girls. The best housemates you can wish for!

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Ma Dian Na

 

 

 

I can’t believe it’s already March! It’s like this journey is coming to an end before even starting. Okay, it is still 126 days left… Last week was my first week of teaching! I work at Jin Hua Primary school in Weihai, which is located about 20 minutes with car from our home. I have 6 very nice co-workers (english teachers). The school has about 1 700 students, aged from 6-12 years old. I teach in grade 1, 2, 3 & 4 (6-11). I have grade 1 & 2 twice a week, which is nice because I have time to get to know them and I can also decide a lot myself what to teach them. In grade 3 & 4 I am just in charge of reviewing what their previous teacher taught them.

 

These first weeks I have given the students english names. May sound easy peasy, but keep in mind that I have 600 individual students… And there are not that many names! I have a lot of Bill, Billy, Jim, Jimmy etc. But the students really enjoy getting an english name. They will probably use this whenever meeting a foreigner. That is what they call me here, “Waiguo laoshi”, which means “foreign teacher”. I can’t walk down the stairs without saying “hello” a 20 times. I just keep my hand in the air and let it wave whenever I leave the office. My ego will be huuuge when I get home.  But it is really fun being some what of a celebrity! I guess it is the closest I will ever come to be famous.

 

By the way, Ma Dian Na is my chinese name! Our work leader gave it to me. “Ma” means horse, since it is now the year of the horse in Chine. “Dian” means Sweden, and “Na” meant great… I think. So, the great horse of Sweden? Maybe, something like that anyway. I can live with that.

 

I teach 18 face-to-face classes a week, classes of 50+ students, and I am also in charge of The English Club, which is 30 minutes from Monday-Thursday. Also, I am supposed to give a presentation for the English teachers every Wednesdays, so they can practise their English. Plus 10 office hours, but it is way more than 10 hours preparing for lessons. So it’s a full time job, and at times, it can be exhausting. But it doesn’t take much for it to be worth it. Just a laugh from the students or an understanding “oooh” is enough for you to get the energy back. But nothing tops a bouquet of flowers! This one I got from one of the students on Women’s day!

Bild 2014-03-07 kl. 08.47 #2

Update

It’s been a while since I posted anything, and it is not because lack of time… This first week in Weihai I’ve had nothing but time actually. So just laziness I guess. We have been at our new home for 10 days now, but it feels like an eternity. We were told that we wouldn’t start working until the 3rd of march, however, today I have my first day of work! Things changes very quickly in China. But I don’t mind, I feel ready to work now!

The first week we had some sightseeing around Weihai. Weihai is absolutely beautiful, surrounded by mountains and the sea. We took a long walk along the coast, and discovered a beautiful park, filled with monuments of great thinkers from all over the world; Confucius, Einstein etc. We have also discovered some of the different shopping malls… And the greatest bakery where you can eat the most amazing Oreo cake! Heaven on earth.

We have also visited our schools. The five of us are going to work at four different schools. I am working at the biggest one, a primary school with about 1 700 students. I will mostly teach grade 1 & grade 2, but also some grade 3 & 4. I will have 18 classes a week, 40 minutes each, and the class sizes will probably be around 50 students per class. Which is absolutely normal here. Wish me luck… My co-workers seem really sweet, I’ve got 6 of them, and their english level is relatively high. Good!

This week will start off slow, I will work this afternoon and also friday. On Monday, it will start for real! Can’t wait to start my life as a teacher.

Here are some pictures of Weihai!

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Weihai

Goood afternoon! Right now I am in my new home in Weihai! We arrived yesterday at noon. Our contact person Sarah, a very sweet lady who speaks good english, met us at the train station. We filled up the little van pretty quickly with our luggage… Then we were off to the first stop, where the austrian couple Linus and Alessa were to stay. It was a HUGE apartment (chinese standards), and they got a good sized bedroom. We were told that we couldn’t all fit in this apartment, and that us three girls, me, Maura and Rosie had to live at the top of the school building. It was described as a dormitory. A bit worried, we continued to the school. We didn’t have to worry for long though. We took the elevator to the sixth floor, and the doors opened straight into our PENTHOUSE! Well, sort of like penthouse at least. We have massive windows, and a huuuuuge living room. The kitchen is in a kind of western style, which is nice and we have three bathrooms in total. Bless. The. Lord. 

The bedrooms, however, vary in both size and style. There is one bedroom with an ensuite, with a double bed. There is another one which has two bunk beds (four beds in total) and my room has four bunk beds (eight beds in total). Kind of weird… But at least we have our own space!

We found out when we left Beijing that we will not be teaching this first week, which is nice. Now we have time to settle down, and see a bit of Weihai. Wednesday we will have a demo teach for the teachers of the school. We’ll see how that goes…

Now we have to go shopping! 

ImageHallway with an awesome chandelier that can spin around to produce party light! 

ImageView from my room

ImageLiving room (please notice the elevator next to the speaker, how cool??)

ImageMy room and all my beds.

ImageBathroomsImageAnother view of the living area.

ImageKitchen

Leaving Beijing

Today is the day! Our four weeks stay in Beijing has come to an end. It has been a few busy weeks, and I think I have accomplished more during these four weeks than during the passed four years. It has been filled with laughs and some tears, but I don’t regret coming here for a minute. I feel like I’ve grown a lot during these weeks.

Anyhow, today I am leaving for my placement in… Weihai! Weihai is just a little south of Beijing, and located just by the sea! I wanted to go further south, but I love the sea so that compensates it! In the summer, it is a vacation paradise!

P1050566

I am going to Weihai Ivy International Preparatory School, where it seems like I am going to teach primary, middle and high school.. We’ll see what happens there. It is five people from our program who are going. Me, an austrian couple and two girls from England. I am happy to have two native english speakers with me!

We were supposed to have left the 13th, but due to some circumstances (it’s china) we are going today. Our train leaves at eight o’clock tonight. We will get there tomorrow at one. Our work will probably start monday. I’m so excited!

TTC arranged a farewell dinner the 12th, and we got our certificates for the theoretical part of the program. It was really hard to see our friends go, and not many eyes were dry. But we have already planned to meet up again some day soon.

P1050609Me getting my certificate from my head teacher, Alex. A great teacher!

Now I have to check out from my room! Next post will be from Weihai!

Crazy days

I can’t even remember my last post here… This week has been the most busy week since we got here, and the other ones haven’t exactly been a vacation. The last assignment was supposed to be handed in, we had to prepare lessons for the whole week and write a detailed lesson plan for the one lesson that we were being watched by our teachers.

I think I probably learnt more during the one week of TP (teaching practice) than during the previous three weeks. We learned how to use our theoretical knowledge in practice. I never knew I would love teaching as much as I did. The hard work is just worth everything when you see the children’s smile and their enthusiasm. I think I am gonna find the role as a teacher quite amazing!

P1050567Michelle in action

We also took a trip to IKEA, to eat some ( A LOT OF) swedish food. I had one plate of meatballs and one plate of salmon. And a blueberry muffin. And several glasses of lingonberry lemonade. After the delicious food (though it is better at home) we took a trip around IKEA. It was almost all the swedes, danish Theo and australian Jason. They didn’t quite understand our enthusiasm… The swedes went crazy! I almost started crying when I found some swedish books in the shelves, and I can not express my happiness when I got to the sheepskins! It must have been almost as fun watching us as it is to watch the Chinese going shopping at IKEA. They literally go there to chill out in the fake living rooms, or in the beds in the bedrooms.  Some couples cuddle up in a sofa and watch movies, and other people sleep in the beds. But hey, I don’t blame them! That’s what we did.

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By the way, I have just found out which city and provins I will be teaching in, but that story deserves a post of its own.

First day of teaching practice!

It is 17:45 and I think my heart rate has just become normal again. Setting of from campus at 7:15, we were 67 nervous teachers to be. We dreaded the moment the bus would stop and we have to get off, and face one of our greatest challenges ever. Ok, maybe it wasn’t so bad, but we were nervous! At least 300 students, around 10 years old, had volunteer to participate in our TP during their holidays. This was our day…

8:30 We gathered in a big room, and our groups were called. Each group was greeted by two students who led us to our classroom, were we had 11 other children waiting for us. The children were wonderful! They tried every single english phrase they had in storage with us. They were so enthusiastic to learn! However, we noticed after just a couple of minutes mingling around the classroom that the english level we had based our lesson plans on was way to high. We had to make a few last minute changes before it was time. I was the  third person to go. On legs that were quite shaky, I taught my first 30 minutes. And I loved it! The response from the children is so rewarding and worth every minute of work.

After two hours of teaching + break we lined up the students, and followed them out to the schoolyard where all the parents or grandparents picked them up. They were almost as excited as the children, smiling and waving at us. It is amazing how much attention, positive attention, you get just by being a foreigner in China. Especially if you are blond!

I couldn’t take any pictures at the school, but here are some random pictures from the trip so far!

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