A Travellerspoint blog

Is there such thing as a 'typical' school day in China?

Eye exercises, Jazz music wakeup calls, and other school oddities from the Experimental School

all seasons in one day 30 °C

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The side gate to the school, Guangdong Experimental Middle School

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The lives of school children here in China are a world apart from the English and American counterparts. In my school days, I used to complain about the ‘long’ 7 hour days, and when I had more than an hour or so of homework a night. The kids at my school (who are from 12-15 years old) start at 7:40 am, and have classes through to 10:20 am when they have morning exercises. These exercises consist of every student in the school (over 2,000 children) standing in army formation on the track, and spilling over onto the surrounding pavements and basketball courts, with two leaders standing on a stage in the middle. The strange kind of aerobic exercise routine is the same every day (as far as I can tell) and is put to some really quirky, kind of circus music with a man’s voice over of ‘ee, are, sahn, shure.... ‘ (counting in Mandarin) gradually getting faster in pace and then slowing down as the exercise routine comes to an end. It’s a strange sight standing on the 6th floor looking down on rows and rows of children doing a routine in perfect unison. Can you ever imagine THAT happening anywhere else?

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Following the completion of the routine, they go back to class until 11:20 when they have their eye exercises. The first day I witnessed this I had just finished my lesson and said goodbye to the students. In their classes, there is always a very formal ‘class begins’ and ‘class ends’ instruction given by the teacher, so when I looked up to see that none of them had moved I thought I hadn’t said the right words. So I waved goodbye again, and bent down to take my USB stick out of the computer. When I stood up again I had a class of 60 children all with their eyes closed and hands massaging the sides of their faces, following a woman’s voice and calming music coming from the speaker system. I was told that this is done to prevent short sightedness. I’m not convinced, but hey, who knows??

Class then continues until 12:15pm when they are released for a lunch and nap period until 2:25 pm. The canteen is a story to itself. Being vegetarian, there is literally nothing I can ever eat, except for the meifan (Mandarin for rice). I do go there on the occasion though to socialise with the other teachers, and because I was given a canteen card with lots of money on it so I basically eat for free. Even the vegetables are smothered in bits of meat that they seem to use for seasoning. Once I was surprised to see potatoes on the menu, which looked innocent enough until my chopsticks encountered something hard and I realised it was a foot of some kind, I guess a chicken. Not something a vegetarian ever wants to find!

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After lunch, there is a mandatory naptime from 1 to 2. This includes everyone on campus, even the teachers. The lights turn off in the building, and everyone pulls out a pillow and falls asleep on their desks. Even the guards at the gates go to sleep! During this time, a couple students are on cleaning duty and I have kids sweeping around my feet in the staff room. Once, one of them was shocked to see me working at my desk during naptime instead of sleeping. I said that I’m not used to taking naps, and explained that in England we don’t do that at school. They student looked horrified! Maybe these countries with siestas really know what they’re talking about and England and America can take a page out of their book!

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This is 'CL' (As I know him, which are his initials for his Chinese name, so when I ask people where CL is, they have no idea who I am talking about!) and on the right is Ben, my mentor... in our office

At 2 pm, the lights turn back on as everyone groggily awakes to the sounds of sweet jazz music playing gently over the loud speakers. We have a few minutes to sort ourselves out, and back to class it is. In the afternoon, there is another 10 minute eye exercise break, and then the chore classes finish at 4:15. Then from 4:15-5:15 there is an extra curricular activity where all the students either have homework time, where the students monitor themselves in the classroom so who knows what they actually get up to, or they have an additional graded class. This is when I have my advanced English class with the top 30 of my brightest students from all the classes. So the bells go at 5:15 and students meander round the classroom, sometimes until as late as 6 when everyone leaves the campus and it is shut for the night. And if you think that is a long day, check out Roger’s blog at http://rogergolding.travellerspoint.com for the high school time table. Because the high school is a campus and all the students live there, they are working from 7:30 am until 10pm, when jingle bells plays to signal end of the school day.

In England, this evening period would be put aside for relaxing, going out with friends, and generally just being a kid. In China, however, every minute of their day is filled with homework, piano lessons, extra English classes, tutoring in ever y subject, singing lessons, dance class, etc etc. When I ask my students what they did over the weekend or holidays, I only ever get ‘did my homework’ or ‘went to class’ in response. It’s quite sad but I think it comes hand in hand with the one child policy, as these children all have SO much pressure coming from all sides to do well in school. There is no social security system in China, so each child may eventually have 2 sets of parents (theirs and their future husband/wife’s) to support in old age... talk about pressure!

The other teachers do have it hard as well; they are required to be in school from 7:30am to 6:00 pm. Lucky for me, this does not apply to the two foreign teachers so I am off the hook, although I do live next door to the school so I still spend quite a lot of time showing my face in the office (and because my internet is down a lot so I go round to use the schools internet...)

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One of my classes, many of them shied away from the photo and are hiding their faces under their desks!

In a typical classroom, there is about 55-60 students, in 8 rows of desks all lined up facing the front. Although the students stay in the same classroom all day every day, and the teachers move around the classroom, the walls are bare. A couple of ceiling fans just manage to keep the room liveable, although I do feel like I’m locked in an oven at times. All of my classrooms are on the 5th and 6th floors of the school; which is an excellent workout throughout the day! Especially as my flat is on the 4th floor so it seems that I am always walking up or down stairs.

Our school is a very nice school, often dubbed the ‘best in Guangdong Province’ (which is no small feat as there are 80 million people in Guangdong), so we are lucky enough to be equipped with a computer, a smart board (which I have no idea how to work or even if it works) a project and a little blackboard at the front of our room. Each room also has a raised section where the computer is for the teachers to stand on in class. My problem is I like to walk around the classroom and I often forget there is a step, much to my students amusement!

Each class has a ‘monitor’ who reports everything I do back to the head. The monitor is basically chosen by their father’s status in the Communist Party. Also each class will have many other leaders, such as the ‘head of language’, or the student in charge of the room keys, or in charge of the keys that lock the computer away. The entire school system is generally incredibly student run compared to the western school systems as I know it.

Students are great in my school. In my first few lessons I am applauded as I walk into the room. There is an absolute fascination with the ‘foreign teachers’. When I was at the high school campus, I was talking to a 16 year old girl when she told me that I am the second ‘westerner’ that she has ever spoken to; the other was an English man that taught her class for 3 days when she was a little girl. So the board is wiped clean for me, and the student in charge of the computer keys always comes up to help me plug in my USB stick and start up the computer.

That’s enough from this blog about school. I have a lot more quirky school things to write about in my next blog.

Posted by Anna1289 04:25 Archived in China Comments (0)

My Moon Festival adventure

Spending the Mid-Autumn Festival with a local family

overcast 30 °C

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After doing a voice recording for a fellow teacher, Icy, at my school, I was invited back to her hometown for the Mid Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival. Although my backup plan for the festival was to travel, I was extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to experience the festival in such a local atmosphere with such a kind family. Icy explained to me on the way to her hometown that she spent a year teaching in England in 2007 and she wished that she had the opportunity to experience the holidays with a local family to see what it’s really like.

The Moon Festival is the second largest holiday of the year, and it’s a time for family to get together. It’s held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which parallels the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar where the moon is at its fullest and roundest, representing family unity. People traditionally go back to their hometowns (so the city is virtually left deserted) and spend the night up late ‘watching the moon’, although that isn’t quite what happened. To start with it was a very rainy cloudy night.

For this holiday, we were given 3 days off by our school, although just one of them was a national holiday (which means we had to make up the Tuesday and the Thursday that weekend on Saturday and Sunday!). In the afternoon, we were very kindly picked up by Icy, her husband, and her 7 year old son, Andy. Her hometown was 45 minutes drive out of the city; we spent almost the whole ride comparing cultures and reminiscing about missing cheese and real bread. When Icy returned back to Guangzhou after her year in England, she searched everywhere for cheese and eventually found some at a mall. I couldn’t help but smile when Icy’s husband’s phone rang to the sound of the Chinese national anthem, and had Chairman Mao’s face as the background to his phone. This brought me back to the reality that I was in China!

The further we drove, the shorter the buildings got, and the more fields we saw. Icy explained that when she was growing up there were a lot more fields, but with China’s rising population the government has passed a bill (or something) which says that a certain percentage of fields in areas have to be given up for building. So it wasn’t as green as it used to be, but it was still a lot greener and less city-ish than where I live, so it was a nice break.

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We pulled up in front of a little local convenience store where we all piled out of the car. Icy walked us back into the block of houses, where I was wafted by the smells of incense coming from next to all the doorways in her neighbourhood, and the sounds of firecrackers (which are set off on the moon festival to get rid of the evil spirits).

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Her house, which was built by her father, was simple, but very very homely. Although they did not speak any English, they welcomed us with a great big smile and gave Shreya and I the two seats on the couch while the rest of her family (Icy, her husband, her two sisters, her sister’s husband, Icy’s nephew, and her parents) all sat on little plastic stools or stood up. They had a special tea table set out for our arrival, which although I’ve seen this ceremony a few times, I am still fascinated by the detail and the time it takes to make just a thimble-sized cup of tea. After 10 minutes of preparation, Shreya, myself, and the sister’s husband all ‘gambeied’ (‘Cheered’) and drank the tea in one gulp.

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Following the tea, Icy was kind enough to cup me a piece of durian, also known as ‘stinky fruit’, the fruit which is actually illegal in some places in the world because of its stench. Needless to say I was feeling adventurous (and felt that I needed to accept some food as I knew that being vegetarian, I am not an easy houseguest!). After my first bite, I actually quite liked it; it had a sort of strong perfume taste, but it was quite enjoyable. However, after a few mouthfuls the slimy stuff because more difficult for me to chew and swallow. I did finish the whole thing... although I’m not sure it’d be my fruit of choice next time...

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As we sat around chatting (to the best of our abilities), Andy brought out his giant ball of newspaper, which he explained to me through Icy that it has an egg inside it and he was conducting an experiment by throwing it off the top of the house and hoping it doesn’t crack. Apparently he’s tried this before, but it failed, so this was his second attempt at success, which I think is true commitment, especially as it was for his own entertainment, not any sort of school assignment or anything. So we all gathered in the little courtyard and watched as Andy chucked it off the roof. We were all relieved to see that the egg had in fact survived intact!!

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After this adventure, Icy’s husband drove us to the town hall where we got out of the car and walked around, with the car at our heels following us. I think this was to kill time, but it was nice to have a wander. This is where we saw all the pigeons on a building, which everyone was fascinated by (I wrote about this in a previous blog).

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We then met up with Icy’s husband’s family at an astonishing restaurant, which was more like a resort. They had booked a table, which was in its own tropical looking hut with glass windows. We had a tour of the restaurant, which I wasn’t too thrilled to find that there were tanks and tanks of live fish, turtles, etc where people were all choosing their own dinner, and the fish was then put into a black bag which was hooked onto a conveyor belt thing that went over our heads and delivered straight into the kitchen... I guess that really is fresh seafood.

A huge amount of food was brought out to our table, where the whole family sat around gossiping and catching up. There was one cooked cucumber and chilli dish that I could eat, which was delicious (they don’t eat raw cucumbers here)! The family was also kind enough to order a special dish for me and my vegetarian needs.

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After dinner, we made our way back to Icy’s family house where the traditional ceremony was held. Snails, pomelo (a sort of giant orange), mooncakes (which are these pastry things on the outside and a strange filling- either lotus paste or a mean mixture- and then an egg. It’s very strange, but they are EVERYWHERE at this time of year, although as far as I can tell, no one really likes them. It’s sort of like fruit cake at Christmas I guess), chestnuts, grapes, and walnuts were all brought out to the table outside along with incense and candles, which were placed on the table closest to the moon; money, pictures and an assortment of other ‘charms’ for the gods were all burned on the floor as an offering.

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After this we went for a walk around Icy’s neighbourhood, where kids were everywhere with little lanterns, incense was burning, and Chinese lanterns were floating high in the sky. We walked by a group of people setting one off, which was great to be a part of! Everyone was out on the streets with their families and friends, and big smiles on their faces. Walking through the little streets, I couldn’t stop thinking how lucky I was to be experiencing such cool thing. This was real China.

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Later, we made our way back to Icy’s husband’s family’s flat, which was a different experience again. They had the same traditional foods out on the table, while a group played a sort of Chinese dominoes game in the corner and everyone else caught up with each other’s lives. After a lot of chit-chat with Icy’s nephew who studied English, we were driven back to our little flat in the middle of the big city again and was given a huge box of moon cakes by Icy’s family as a present. This is really what I came to China for, and I am humbled to be able to spend this holiday with such a kind family.

Posted by Anna1289 23:17 Archived in China Comments (0)

A weekend of 'negative air anions' to refresh my lungs

Dingu Shan nature reserve

rain 28 °C

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On my first weekend on Guangzhou, I went to Dingu Shan (Dingu Mountain), a 11.3 sq km protected nature reserve 3 hours from Guangzhou by bus. It was a great weekend escape, and gave my lungs the refresher they needed after three weeks in city-smog. Apparently, this reserve is famous for its clean air (‘negative air anions’ as the signs publicize). This weekend gave me great insight into the way China preserves its parks: where in England you would have dirt paths and the odd person, this park was well equipped with cemented pathways and tour bus after tour bus of men and women in heels strolling along the streams. The trick to get some peace was to head up the mountain where many of the Chinese tourists dared not head. Along the route we had some absolutely stunning views of the mountain, and some great waterfalls and streams filled with crystal clear water. I couldn’t help but think that this is what Vietnam or another tropical country would look like; it had that tropical feeling to it with tall trees, huge spiders, and vines draping over little valleys where the streams had worn away.

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In our adventurous walk, we wandered to one of the Buddhist temples in the reserve. It was completely isolated from the crowds, and stood on the opposite side of the mountain. I was thrilled to find a Buddhist restaurant inside the temple, which was a little pricey but worth it for the satisfaction of knowing I wasn’t eating any meat. The temple had some astonishing views over a tropical valley, which was amazing to gaze out at, especially to the scent of the giant incense sticks placed in the courtyard.

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We knew that there was a road back to our hostel, and we assumed that once it got dark the road would be lit. However, as soon as we ventured outside of the temple, a hauntingly-black walk back through the forest to the other side of the mountain lay in front of us as no lights were turned on and all the tourists had left. The hour or so march seemed to last forever as we all had images of having to spend the night in the forest! Eventually we made it back to our hostel. Although the lightless walk wasn’t so peaceful, the park was left in a very peaceful, tranquil state after the floods of tourists had left.

This is another blog where descriptions really don’t do the place justice. Here are some pictures to paint a better picture.

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Posted by Anna1289 03:42 Archived in China Comments (0)

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, it has a crowd, there's always something happening

all seasons in one day 30 °C

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Before moving into my flat I had this image of an apartment on the 30th floor overlooking a dusty, smoggy city full of sky scrapers. The later part was quite accurate, but I’m actually on the 4th floor with views of a big old tree and overlooking our school gym, and a tall sky scraper. The traditional Chinese dance classes and tai chi are all performed in the room across from my bedroom... talk about motivation to go to the gym! My flat is pretty simple, although there were lots of things left from past ELA’s (such as old clothes, bed sheets, a giant teddy bear, and some old pots and pans). [The above photos are all photos of my flat and the views from it.]

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We have a small kitchen with a hot plate, a microwave, toaster oven and some sort of a ‘sanitizer’ machine, which gets really hot inside but I’m not really sure if it does any good as it looks ancient. All my friends that have visited are hugely jealous of our luxuries! Our bathroom has a western toilet (again, the topic of much jealousy among my friends) and a shower on the wall (without any shower curtains or anything, just the drain which is behind the toilet). Unfortunately, our bathroom normally absolutely stinks of sewage... but how am I meant to explain that one to the locals??!

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We have a washing machine, although we had no idea which buttons should be pressed as it’s all in characters, so we just guess. Every time we do a load of washing (which lasts all of 10 minutes so I don’t see much being cleaned), our bathroom floods. We also have a dining room table, and a set of wooden ‘sofa’ chairs... I definitely miss my big comfy leather ones from home!

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We did have a tv (which since moving in the cable TV has broken). And the TV goes through phrases of not turning on; at one point I was sat on the couch and used my air conditioner remote to turn the temperature up and the TV turned on. I thought I was going crazy until the ELA’s living in my flat last year told me the tv did that all the time last year. At the moment though it’s stuck in an off position and it’s decided not to listen to the air conditioner remote. And we also have wireless internet, which was down for a few weeks but is now thankfully fixed.

The best part of my flat is that we have three air conditioning units... brilliant! I actually could not be living in Guangzhou without them, the temperature is well into the 100’s (Fahrenheit) every day with very high humidity. Sometimes when it’s raining I can’t actually tell whether it’s just the thickness of the air, my sweatiness or actual rain (most of the time I think it’s a bit of a mixture). You’d think I’d eventually get used to the extreme temperatures and humidity, but I don’t think that time has come quite yet.

In our flat, it isn’t just my flatmate, Shreya, and myself, we also have some uninvited guests we see periodically. One unfortunate night I woke to my curtains moving and the sounds of something gnawing in the corner of my room; I couldn’t see anything once I put my lights on and I convinced myself there was nothing there. A few weeks later, I was giving a dog a bath (that’s a whole different blog), when I ran into my bedroom and was absolutely shocked to see a huge mouse jump from my air conditioner up onto the ceiling onto my bed then disappear. Keep in mind that mice here in China are not like the mice we get in England or America, these things are HUGE. They are more like giant rat sized! So Roger, myself and Babao (the dog) chased this mouse until my house was completely upside with the table on its side, the washing machine pulled out, and beds stripped. Eventually we got it out the window and I could sleep in peace.

Another night I went into the bathroom, shut the door and to my amazement a cockroach (again, no small thing) was sat looking at me- then I saw another just at the other side. Once I moved they scattered into the door frame. How on earth was I meant to find anything to get rid of cockroaches in China? I was amazed by my acting ability (how I acted out cockroach I have no idea!) and a lady at a store thankfully got my hints and I was lead to cockroach traps (there are full sections in stores for these things).

It’s strange, other than cockroaches and mice, there is literally no other life in Guangzhou. Rarely, there are people walking small little fluffy dogs. You can see crowds of people ahead crossing streets and climbing walls (literally) to escape them. For some reason it’s the men who are always most scared! The only reason I can put to this is animals are all seen as another food source here in China, not as part of the family, or even friends.

When I was out with a Chinese friend and her 7 year old son, we passed a house that was covered in white pigeons (these were the first birds I have ever seen in Guangzhou), and I realised that here, even pigeons are a rarity that when spotted attracts groups of people with their children. The children all approach the pigeons with sheer amazement on their faces, but they get the same delight as the western children at chasing them and making them fly!

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[All of the above photos are from just in front of my flat, on the street I live on]

Anyways, back to my flat: across the street from my flat is a canal/river running through the city (one of many coming off of the Pearl River). Above it is a highway, and on top of that is another highway. Recently they have done up the area all along the canal into a parkish- green area, all very formal with flowers and tropical looking plants. It’s in preparation for the Asian games and looks great! I’ve heard from teachers that all of the citizens of Guangzhou are getting involved in tidying up the city. I’ve also heard that during the Asian games they are banning most of the cars driving into the city to lessen the pollution, so the metro’s will be packed full (as if they aren’t already!). There are people that aren’t happy about all the money being put into the greening of the city though, as many think the money should be put towards the economy. Although Guangzhou is generally a very rich city, with a large expat community, there is an absolutely astonishing gap between the rich and the poor.

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There are shopping malls that you go into which are aimed at the expat community with western stores, and ice cream cones (with flavours ranging from green bean to fish and shrimp flavours) that costs 45 Yuan a cone (thats about £4.50) which seems steep prices even in England. Then you go next door, and there will be little neighbourhoods where you can buy a whole meal sat at a plastic table with great service and amazing food, equipped with your own mosquito incense under your table and complimentary tea, all for less than 10 Yuan (that’s £1.00). This is just a very brief introduction to the two completely opposite worlds here in Guangzhou.

As much as I try to describe where I live, I think pictures can tell the story better. Here is a variation of photos from around my neighbourhood:

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Posted by Anna1289 20:52 Archived in China Comments (0)

Goodbye Beijing, Hello Guangzhou

And so my journey continues...

sunny 36 °C

So the time has come to say goodbye to Beijing. During our week of Mandarin language class, each class was asked to ‘perform’ something at the ‘farewell’ party we’d be having on Friday. Initially we instinctively thought there would be music, drinks, and dancing, according to English tradition. However, the closer we got to the big day- Friday- we realised that in fact this farewell ‘party’ is less of a party and much more of a very formal occasion with special, very important speakers, as according to Chinese tradition. My class decided it would be best to perform the Chinese national anthem... why we chose this, I don’t know. So we found ourselves on a stage in front of 90 of our fellows English Language Assistants, as well as a row of very important government officials who have travelled from all sorts of distances to give us speeches on Chinese economics, our importance in making the links between China and the rest of the world, and the high hopes they generally held for us all. I think we successfully shot these dreams down when my group, being first up, failed miserably, to the point of sheer embarrassment, at singing the national anthem. We each held a miniature Chinese flag, and continued waving it as the wordless music played in the background. It was one of the more horrific moments of my life. Especially when the entirety of the English audience were on the floor crying with laughter, while the government officials just looked at each other in sheer horror. Ooooh the embarrassment!

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So that was goodbye to Beijing. The next adventure that lay ahead was our 22 hour train trip from Beijing to Guangzhou. All 26 English Language Assistants who are based in Guangdong Province this year all got the ‘hard sleeper’ train down. In our heads we imagined bunk beds in a cabin with plenty of space. So as we loaded our massive amounts of luggage (yes, we did pack for a year!!) into the cabins, we were horrified by the incredibly cramped accommodation. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the train was not about to depart (we were late, due to Beijing’s heavy traffic) and our suitcases were too wide to fit down the aisles. Nonetheless we found ourselves in miniature rooms with 3 bunk beds on top of each other on both the walls, and a little window. Most rooms ended up making a pile of luggage in the centre, blocking any sort of standing space that existed.

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When the train set off, we were bombarded with carts going up and down the train; one selling fruit, one selling meats and noodles, and the third was a drinks cart. Although we did have fun playing cards and looking at the views of passing Chinese country-side, the most solidified memory in my mind will always be the awful adventures to the squat toilet. For the sake of this blog, I won’t be putting much more detail into it other than it was horrific. The smells stunk up the surrounding carriages, and whenever we needed to get boiling water for tea or pot noodles, the boiling water tap was just outside the doors to the toilets... which is a little off putting to say the least.

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As we neared our city and the sun was rising the next morning, I awoke to absolutely breathtaking views of the steep, individual mountains surrounded by lakes, and rice fields dotted with women in straw hats tending to them. This was the china I imagined when looking through guidebooks and websites before I departed. And the best part is, these sites are all so close to where I’ll be living this next year!

When our train slowed to a stop at Guangzhou Railway Station, I came to a sudden realisation that all 26 of the ELA’s would be separating ways and leaving behind the protective bubble we had become so used to once we got off the train. I think at this point sheer panic had set in to everyone on board. So the train doors opened and we were hit with a tidal wave of heat and humidity beyond belief... and this was only at 9 in the morning! After passing through the tickets barriers we could see people holding up signs with names written on them, so one by one we waved each other off. I was actually collected along with six other ELA’s as we are all at different campuses of one school, the ‘Experimental’ School. All I wanted now was to be shown to my flat to freshen up a bit, but according to Chinese ways we put our suitcases into a van (I think the van was originally intended to take all of us as well, but they had not taken into account the massive loads of luggage that accompanied us!) and walked to a gorgeous, 5 star restaurant for some traditional ‘Dim Sum’. We were shown to a private room where all 7 of us ELA’s looked horribly disgusting and sweaty, whilst the 10 or so English teachers from the different campuses were dressed in their Sunday best.

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Here, there is a rotating glass table top in the middle of the table, where food is brought out as it is prepared and placed in the middle for everyone to take what they want. In front of each of us are chopsticks (I was so glad I had been forced to practice my technique the last two weeks), a small bowl, a small plate, and a tea bowl. In Beijing we had been putting the food onto our plates and used the little bowl to put all of our rice into. When we attempted this arrangement here, we were laughed and reminded that the tiny bowl is actually where we put the food and the plate is only for left overs. Another tradition we had to get used to was washing your chopsticks in tea in your tea bowl and then pouring the tea into a centre bowl. After some awkward conversations through our delirious, tired states, we were given a toast, to which you are meant to tap your tea bowl on the table and then drink, and then we were invited to dig into the first dish, which was jelly fish (I politely passed on this). The next dish, however, was one that I had become all too familiar with these past two weeks, fried pok choi.

Following the meal we were taken around a very nice grocery store called ‘Taste’ (which I later learned is the M&S equivalent in China, and is fitted out with all sorts of western commodities, although at western prices- which is VERY expensive comparatively). My flat mate and I were perplexed as to whether we needed to buy toilet cleaner because we weren’t sure whether we’d be one of the lucky few to have a western toilet, or a hole in the ground. Anyways, we finished stocking up on all the essentials that we could think about, and were shown to our flat, which is a convenient 10 minute walk from the shopping plaza. I’ll tell you ALL about my quirky flat in my next blog, which will be shortly following.

Posted by Anna1289 20:23 Archived in China Comments (1)

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