Settling into Life in the Shiz

The first couple of weeks were relatively chill here in Shijiazhuang, but honestly I was getting a little bored and was ready to start teaching. Naturally after only a week and half of lessons I’m already excited for the 3 day holiday which starts tomorrow! School kicked off with the usual opening ceremony, but rather than Sam giving the speech, for some reason the school decided I had to give one on behalf of the returning foreign staff and Gabriel had to give one on behalf of the new staff. This meant that with very little notice I had to prepare and deliver a speech in front of 6000+ students and the 100+ staff! Luckily when the students were filing in (with military precision I may add), I’d spotted a few of my old favourite students and directed my speech at them so didn’t mess up too much I don’t think!! Plus I had my student Vanessa translating next to me. The school had an annoying drone taking photos as well as the usual photographers, but although they were annoying, I’m glad there’s photographic evidence that I did the speech and I’m finally putting that A-Level in drama to use.

Predictably, our timetable was all over the place during the first week. I didn’t actually get a full one until the day after school had started, partly because they’d put me down to teach 2 classes at once and partly because I fought so hard against having an evening class on a Friday. This all meant that I taught one class before the opening ceremony and when I went to try and teach my second I was told there were no classes that day. Turns out I wasn’t supposed to teach the first one, which does explain why they looked so confused when I appeared at the door! I have less individual classes this year but the same number of scheduled classes which is nice – I don’t really get that bored of my lesson plan since I only teach it 10 times. The worst thing about my timetable is Wednesdays. I have 6 classes over 11 hours which is just brutal! The last class of the day had me last year too so last week I just stormed in and told them that they had to do lots of speaking since I was too tired and because they know me and are amazing they did so. I’ve had a lot more interaction with the homeroom teachers this time around – roughly 60% of my classes had a teacher in the room at some point to observe and a couple even introduced me and made the students clap which was incredibly sweet as well as incredibly awkward. So far the students seem much more confident than my ones last year, but they could be reacting to a much more confident teacher. Either way I’m enjoying getting stuck back into teaching even if I don’t enjoy my long day on Wednesday.

As part of my first lesson, I had the students give themselves English names. This year I want to keep better track of their names so made them make name cards. Then because some of the options are hilarious I kept a record of the funniest/weirdest to share on here!

Boy names 

  • Vermouth
  • Wede
  • Victory
  • Ewan
  • Curry
  • First Blood
  • Horatio Nelson
  • King
  • Susse
  • Krain
  • Blackstone

Girl names

  • Hibbo
  • Dreamy
  • Kirtio
  • Hyun
  • Angle (Actually I had 2 different Angle’s in different classes)
  • Army
  • God’s Sheep
  • Kevin

Double Acts

Chinese students form very close friendships, and lots of students name themselves as a double act to show how close friends they are.

  • Tom and Jerry
  • Spring and Summer
  • Herry and Harry

Highlights from other grades

  • Made in Black
  • Potato
  • Satan
  • HandsomeGuySupermanXu


As well as settling into school, we’re all settling into life in the Shiz again which seems to mean having lots of food on the street, drinking lots of beer and cocktails at Hank’s and playing lots of card games. It’l be a shame when the weather and pollution go downhill soon and we can’t just socialise outside like we have been doing. We’ve made a new friend in the burger shop man called Tony, bumped into an old friend who took us to KTV last year and made enemies then friends with the new manager at Hank’s. To be honest though, nothing major has changed and it’s been nice to come back home.


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