A Travellerspoint blog

10 Days at Summer Camp, Day 2


Day 2, 9 July 09, Thursday
This morning's sound was not yapping dogs, squealing pigs, or quacking ducks, but LOUD croaking frogs and crickets. Today at 0230, the morning chorus of frogs and crickets sang for my approval... I forced myself to sleep till my normal waking hour, with little success I did, but they finally won and gained their audience.

I equipped myself with headphones and walked the track 3 laps. Although, slight drizzle, the fresh smell of rain and clean air made me feel much alive.

First meeting with Raul was scheduled for 0830, I collected Nora, a 22yr Hungarian whose major is Chinese Culture and speaks Chinese and English, to meet Raul at his office. He provided us with the school's version of lesson plans. I do remember when applying for schools, some of the requirements is that the schools have their own academic outline. In truth, Raul's was rather confusing, although he did explain, I just as lost as poor Nora.

I did have an opportunity to share my lessons which involves the same technique as well better choice of music. Raul confessed that he likes Country music, hearing that I nearly gagged in which Nora giggled. He mentioned students are encouraged to listen to popular music. “Take me country road is popular?” I inquired, then shivered when mentally hearing the verses. “How about this song, very easy and catchy.”

Selected an Oldies tune 'It's a beautiful morning' and Raul liked, he actually started to sing. Nevertheless, he did say after the school's lessons and there is time, I can play my music. Not a problem.

Also, this school has time scheduled “teacher's preparation” in which we actually have to sit in classroom to prepare our lessons. Now, I have to say compared to Guangya School's office computers, Century has the SLOWEST systems! We spent most of the first hour waiting for the system to warm up and get connected. On my laptop, I'd be finished already! Ugh!!!

Raul was able to connect my laptop to the internet... oh, felt so much like getting an IV of Life. I was able to reach out and virtually touch someone again. Sadly, I can only do internet whilst in my assigned classroom during my 'teacher's preparation'.

Posted by mskaye 19:07 Archived in China Tagged educational Comments (0)

10 Days at Summer Camp, Day 1


Day 1, 8 July 09, Wednesday
Although Raul, IELTS summer camp coordinator, text me last night in which we both agreed he collected me in front of apartment gate at 0745hrs, by 0800 … typical Jinan traffic of human bodies and machinery dominated the streets.

Whilst waiting, I wished I had taken my “calming” pill for I felt my internal body heat increase, at that point, I would have preferred the humidity causing this issue. Despite the bothersome humidity, I directed my thoughts elsewhere as I continued to look at every taxi that drove by with the anxious of hope that one of them had Raul sitting inside.

Finally, ten minutes after 8am, a cab stopped and a not so average tall man if slightly loose compact build Chinese man wearing glasses, t-shirt, jeans and sneakers came out from front seat passenger seat. He hastily walked up to me like a Chinese version of Alice's White Rabbit. “Sorry, sorry,” he said in English, “yes, we were behind in traffic.” He was answering to my text sent earlier inquiring status.

As we left the city, the buildings were becoming shorter and less modernized whilst the streets were more bumpier than usual. I saw more pastures and could smell the green of vegetation from the fields. Villagers didn't wear business suits, only wore whatever comfortable, and there weren't too many young women wearing trendy fashion and high heel shoes whilst riding their scooters. I felt almost though I had returned to Guangya School, until I saw the school grounds.

Hugh and majestic! I felt as though I was entering a palace's courtyard. Raul explained to me that Headmaster was from Southern China which explains the many bamboo gardens and traditional circular Chinese iron 'windows' decorated the entire perimeter white brick walls.

Now as for my assigned room, we had approached two closed doors on the first floor (rather relieved at this point, walking 5 flights of stairs at both apartment and classroom is rather onerous) in which Raul said, without opening either doors, “Which one would you like?”

“Hmmm, is there a possibility of seeing how inside looks before I make a decision?” I suggested with a smile. Room 110 still was in process of repairs, meaning completing shower head and bathroom sink need a drain. Well, Room 112 had similar issues and each was accompanied with flies... tis the countryside, and my room faced outside small pond. I had made my choice and taken Room 112.

That same moment, I learned building lacked internet connection... oh, joy, 10 days without internet, think of the withdrawals. There wasn't a wireless signal, nor was possibly of getting my Blackberry connected. Raul noted the two plastic green, pretty decorated basins was where I'd do my laundry (trust me, I selected my choice of clothes for duration when I reorganized my suitcase), I could already feel the walls crumbling around me.

After he had left to purchase a few necessities for personal use, I sat down on my wooden box, plywood board bed, which was carefully with great care, prepared as a bed with pink sheets and comforter (at least there was an actual pillow provided), and examined my situation. Only a few moments elapsed is when I finally laughed.

Later that evening, Raul had presented my schedule... whoa!! My morning starts (of course, with breakfast then... ) 0820-1130, lunch with midday rest of 2hrs, classes resume at 1430 and ending at 1640 then dinner. Think America should follow such a schedule which would reduce people sleeping at their desks (can't account for those boring meetings).

Posted by mskaye 10:04 Archived in China Tagged educational Comments (2)

Unexpected change


Tuesday afternoon, Sally contacted via Google Talk and informed me that I was scheduled to teach for summer camp. Ok, no problem, I thought,be ready toward weekend. “Actually, he is picking you up tomorrow morning,” she said, at that moment, I started packing...

Posted by mskaye 18:59 Archived in China Tagged educational Comments (0)

Life in Jinan 23 June - 4 July, Part 2

Hunting food survival skills in the City


Upon accepting this assignment to teach in Jinan, I was informed that the school doesn't provide meals and that meant I had to provide for myself. Well, those of you who know me very well.... I don't cook, I don't even cook in Dujiangyan. Most of my meals are traditional peanut butter / jelly sandwiches to fruits, vegetables, and anything I can steam in my rice cooker, which includes rice, an occasion Chinese sausage, pumpkin and steamed buns.

I really don't eat much, I mostly graze ... however, in Jinan, I was introduced to many nice people and most common inquiry, "Do you like Chinese food?" I actually grew up eating Chinese prepared meals, and Chinese people use common sense when involves eating... eat as much as need for you have control of your intake (tis why I like using chop sticks) and prepare portions of large meats into small nibbling bite size and have LOTS of vegetables (mmmmm, sounds tasty). With such small pieces of meat that assists the stomach with digestion, rather having large portioned meat which just sits inside a stomach SLOWLY being processed into small pieces.

Sure, I enjoy Chinese food and despite the visible signs of Pizza Hut, McDonalds and KFC, I continually have to remind myself that I'm in China. I DID sit inside a KFC with James when we went to Tai Mountain, but only HE ate one of their package meals in which ONLY I drank a KFC fruit beverage (no soda will ever touch these lips).

Now, you probably wondering what do I mean that I 'mostly graze'. Any dietitian will tell you that 'grazing' is the effective way to lose weight. Eat once you wake up in the morning which starts fueling your metabolism ... anyway, I'm not here to give weight lose advice... use common sense, and remember YES, HAVING BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY.... now I'll get down from my soapbox.

Back to my story...

Ok, there are times I really don't want to eat a meal, just want something small and edible. However, every time I meet with colleagues or new friends, I am inquired if I had breakfast, lunch or dinner... I immediately say that I'm quite satisfied what I just ate (please note, that by 1100am, I've already eaten 4 meals and drank three tall glasses of water). "Oh, Kaye, you look so thin! You've got to eat!" Why when I hear that comment, I feel as though I am at my parents' home?

When involved with food hunting skills, I usually visit the local supermarket in search of good grazing grounds. I'm so grateful that hunting is relatively simple, most items are clearly lableled with appealing pictures or have small 'windows' displaying its packaged contents. Anything not clearly lableled, I set my traps elsewhere, and, of course, chicken feet or head to pig feet or snout continually remains off my menu. If I'm wanting an already prepared meal, I rely on my pointing and nodding which effectively aids me in obtaining what I want so I don't have to struggle with my limited Chinese speaking.

Luckily, once the locals see me enough times in their store or passing their cart, they already know what I want without even asking. Hunting couldn't be any easier.

Posted by mskaye 21:13 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Life in Jinan 23 June - 4 July, Part 1

Surviving in the City, Is there a safe place to walk?


I must apologize for my absence but I've been waiting patiently to rid my writer's block as well as review and prepare my schedule summer lessons. During that time, I must say that city life in Jinan greatly differs from country life in Dujiangyan.

After my 2x week holiday in Jinan, I was ready to teach, my established apartment is located 10 minutes from office. Now with the my walking experience (thanks to many military hiking excursions), duration to getting to office takes 5 minutes. Even in early morning, 0500-0630AM, timing is even less. The only vehicles on the road are pulled or foot pedalled by the cleaning crew. Very peaceful.

At exactly 0700-0730AM, traffic has already made its presence and Jinan becomes alive with both people and every means of transport. What was a 5 minute leisure stroll then becomes 10-15 minutes of walking survival. The first 5 minutes is waiting for the pedestrian permissible green signal whilst the other 5 is waiting for the numerous of cars, buses, and cyclists, foot pedal to motorized, refusing to allow those of us on foot 'right of way'.

Nevertheless, there are more driven personal cars here in Jinan then in Dujiangyan, but I'm mostly dodging cyclists than I am being ran over by a car. I say this because all cyclists are using sidewalks and their respective street lanes. Talk about one's stress level! In Dujiangyan, I managed to tolerate the flow of motorcars and public serviced vehicles in a few days, for there are more cyclists than cars and a lot more distance gaps. BUT here in Jinan, one should not never under estimate in believing drivers will obey traffic lights, let alone actually drive the paved path provided for them.

OMIGOSH! Drivers of all sorts are just as impatient with traffic lights as in United States. With great urgency, cars, personal to taxis, and an occasion bus, will make their way onto the side walk just to make that right turn. I dare not wear headphones whilst walking, I value my life knowing that I'm fully aware what surrounds me rather me be surrounded by whatever. Drivers may not honk their horns as much as Dujiangyan, although Jinan taxi drivers do so to inform searching fares of their availability, as a warning to pedestrians to move along. Most cases, blaring horns are used in ALERTING in saying GET OUT OF THE WAY!

Posted by mskaye 20:10 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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