The realities of life in China

So I haven’t posted in a while and I apologise for that. This isn’t going to be the huge, picture filled, Shanghai shenanigans extravaganza I thought i’d be posting as well, so sorry about that too. Honestly, I’m currently struggling a bit in Shijiazhuang, and don’t want to look back on a couple of weeks ago when I was having loads of fun because it just makes me wish I was still there and having that much fun.

The reality is, living in a foreign country is hard. I have a great set up where I am and I am incredibly grateful for that, but its still difficult to live in a country which is so different to everything I’m used to. I have a lovely group of friends around me and another set dotted around China who message me every day. But still, when everything that could go wrong does go wrong, its hard to bounce back.

Lets start with the fact that I caught a cold in Shanghai. Took Annie a week to get over it, a week that included heavy drinking and little sleep. its been 2 weeks and I’m still ill. Classic Daisy.

I only do 16 hours a week at the school, way under my contracted 20 hours a week. But everyone else repeats the same lessons, I have to do 5 different ones. That’s a lot more preparation than everyone else. But I don’t get paid to prepare lessons, only to teach them and from next week onwards i’m teaching at a primary school an hour a week. Don’t know what i’m teaching them in particular, all i’ve been told is that me and Thandie will be taken by car someplace at 3.30 and they’ve prepared something on self-introduction. But that’s China for you.

I missed a meeting accidentally last week as I forgot the time changed and missed something about exams. I teach 3 different classes and for 2 of them I can tell them to do a presentation. I don’t know what date the exams on, I don’t know if I need an extra teacher checking my marking and I don’t know if I do it in regular class time or not. I’ve asked, but as usual there’s a delay in getting me the answer. Oh China.

Speaking of classes, most are starting to like me and there are a couple in particular which I really enjoy teaching and look forward to. And then there are 2 of my classes on Thursday. One of them is usually okay, but this week one boy refused to admit that he was wrong for talking when I was and instead blamed his misbehaviour on my tendency to point at him. The other problem class had me close to tears on Thursday. Thursday is my longest day, I have 6 classes spread out from 7.55-18.50. By the time I teach my penultimate class I am tired. Usually classes that have a behaviour problem have 1 ringleader. This class has 4. All spread out. They do not listen, they distract others, and they can’t even be quiet enough to write lines. Seriously, last Thursday I told them to write lines until they could be quiet for 5 minutes in a row. After 25 minutes the class had ended and I was close to tears. And they have the cheek to ask me if they can play hangman! Hopefully they’re being removed from my class, I told my contact teacher that I simply cannot teach those 4. Teacher problems!

I really desperately want a bank account. I’ve been pushing the school since we got here to help us get one and they were so procrastinatey that the Japanese teacher at the school Sean rescued us once again and finally took us this weekend. Finally! I can get a bank account and organise trips to see people. I was planning to go down south for Halloween and its starting to become time to think about Spring Festival travelling. But my names blacklisted at the Bank of China. Not my passport number, my name. So it’s a no-go for a bank account. We tried other places (literally hero Sean) but they fobbed us off because it was nearly closing time. So my halloween plans have been ruined and I don’t have anything really to look forward to. Quick google search told me I shouldn’t worry about being blacklisted, they’ve probably had a problem with a ‘Daisy’ before and just blacklisted all the names. Because that’s China! Always logical.

China’s tested me more than ever this week. If it wasn’t for the classes I enjoy I would be considering coming home because its so difficult. But when students give me orange segments, when they ask me questions about English that stretches me and the looks on their faces when they’ve learnt something new and understand it, I know that i’m here for the long haul. I’m lucky to have people around me who message me daily, or who bump into me and express concern as to why they haven’t seen me that week, and who have conversations about the validity of democracy in China in the middle of a shopping trip. I have many more reasons to stay here than I have to quit, I just have to force China to like me as much as I like it.

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