Archive for February, 2010

February 20, 2010

The one with the new home.

As I got more and more claustrophobic and restless at the Agents’ place, I had to do something. And I did. Silly as I am, I decided to find a job through ANOTHER agent, because that’s what I found on the web.

Perlandas Harris, seemingly smart, cool African-American dude from Tennessee (or wherever), fluent in Mandarin and talkative as few, was the agent I got in touch with. Naive as I was, I went with what he told me, and was sent off to Walton Foreign Language Centre in Huadu, Guangzhou to work as a teacher.

My plan was initially to stay there for at least three months, but having discovered how shady things were, I wasn’t anny less than eager to get away. During the time I was corresponding with the Editor of Where Hainan Magazine (a newly started English language magazine) regarding a possible internship I would be able to get there. At the time, sunny beaches and white sand sounded a lot more tempting than teaching under shady conditions…

However, WH never got back to me to confirm my accommodation and things started to look brighter and brighter at Walton. I found a good friend in my colleague Marc, an experienced teacher and a really nice guy and in Angela, one of the Teaching Assistants I connected with instantly :) As time went by, I got used to living in my nice flat, working with my very cool TA’s and having tea at Yaya Tea & Coffee every evening after work. We were also joined by Paul, cool former club owner from Blackpool and soon to be awesome teacher :)

I found another home…

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February 20, 2010

Sorry

I know, I haven’t posted in over a week. I’d love to say that it’s because I’ve been so busy, but it’s more like I’ve been so lazy. I guess I’d blame the fact that I’m bored and nostalgic.

Right, think I forgot to tell you. I’m actually back in Malmö, my hometown in Sweden.

My China adventures are over (for now!), unfortunately, which is also why we’ve been nostalgia trippin in the last couple of posts. I promise, there will be more nostalgia trippin very soon, but first I think I might have to get my shit together. Clean my room, organise my closet, find a job, cool down on the partying and so on…

Well, good luck to me! La la la…

February 10, 2010

The one with the major chillin like a villain

The plan after leaving TTC was this:

Spend Halloween-weekend in Foshan visiting Anja and Co
Head back to Shenzhen Sunday night with Charlie.
Get my stuff, leave my room and hop back to Foshan to stay with Anja for a couple of days on Tuesday.
Hit Sanxiang to attend a mini-reunion over the weekend with the lot there.
Monday was going to be the day I left the south behind to hit Beijing one more time.

However, this was where my free spirited nature kicked in. I ended up spending 2 weeks with the Sanxiang lot, staying at Tilly & Tina’s place. The mattress in their living room was my bed, and I spent aaall day watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and all evening talking, talking, talking and talking some more with the girls.

The weekend of the 21st we were all going to go to Guangzhou anyway for another mini-reunion and a birthday celebration, so the plan was to stay a couple of days after and head to Beijing from there.

Once you’ve let that spirit free, you can’t really cage it again… As it turns out, it wasn’t willing to leave the south and its warm climate just yet, so I ended up looking for jobs in the area and finally finding myself a place to stay with my former “placement agents”, supposedly helping them build an import-export company… Quite interesting, specially considering I wasn’t too fond of 2/3 of the trio or my rock hard bed…

Real life F.R.I.E.N.D.S were utterly missed.

I’ll be there for you, ’cause you’re there for me too.

February 10, 2010

The one where the three musketeers part ways

The last week at SOEC Sigrid and I decided to be reeeeeally nice to Charlie (as we always are!). We were really sad to leave him, and have to split the three musketeers up, so we tried to make the last week as cosy and musketeery as possible. We ate at Pizza Hut, hung out at Star Bucks, watched Die Hard 4 and didn’t try to make him watch Sex & the City with us :D

The terriffic trio shall reunite once again!

February 10, 2010

The one with all the kids

After Golden week, it was time to go back to work. The Chinese have some silly theory that if you’ve had some extra days off (the days apart from the National Holiday that made it Golden WEEK) you need to compensate for this by working the next weekend. Meaning, we get back to work for 8 days without a break. It was a  pretty tough week, even tougher after that lovely week off…

Our accommodations were still a mess when we got back. Sigrid and I were still sharing a room, Charlie still had the occasional brick falling down and lack of electricity, and classes were abundant. No internet, no fridge, no tv or dvd… And teaching wasn’t aaaall that. Don’t get me wrong, I loved parts of it, but some days it was just so utterly demotivating (in my case Tuesdays and Thursdays, when I had chlorine class and we don’t wanna travel because we don’t wanna learn English-class). I had a hard time getting through to my oldest students, who weren’t the least bit interested in learning any English what so ever.

Wednesday October 14th Sigrid (my partner in crime) told me she was going to leave the programme. She had spoken to a friend that was staying in New Zealand and decided to hop down there to do something she’d enjoy more. I admired her courage and respected her decision, which also made me think a bit about what I was going to do. I wasn’t completely at ease with putting up with 12 more weeks of emotional rollercoaster rides, so I decided to take the weekend to think about it.

So I quit the programme too.

These pictures are the ones I took of my favourite kids the last 2 weeks before I left my school and went off on my own little adventure. Even though I’d just known them for 2 months, we got pretty close and I was kind of sad to leave them, knowing how hard it was on some… I’ll definitely go back and visit (:

February 10, 2010

The one with the Golden week

Counting down the days until weekend was easy, but it was counting down the days until our first holiday that was our main goal. Autumn Festival or Golden week, which starts with the Chinese National Day on October 1st, was a week we’d been looking forward to for a long time. There were so many suggestions for what to do during this week, including trippin’ up to Inner Mongolia, soaking up the sun on the beaches of Hainan or be amazed by the marvelous city of Hong Kong.

We chose the latter.

However, National Day we spent in Guangzhou. On National Day, we said goodbye to all the guys taking the 40h train up to Hohhot and chillaxed before our third companion arrived. In the evening we watched some fireworks, which were beautiful, and just walked around on Bai E Tan Jiu ba Jie (Bar street in Fangcun).

The next day we hit Hong Kong and so the infatuation began. We didn’t really do that much, just saw the nunnery, went to Kowloon park and hit Ocean Park (which was AMAZEBALLS) and Lan Kwai Fong (party party party!). Mostly we just chilled and walked about in Causeway Bay, where we were staying. I wasn’t in love then and there, but I wouldn’t be able to resist giving the city of many M&M flavors, pretty lights, impressive sky scrapers and amazing shopping several chances…

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February 10, 2010

The one with all the changes

Along with almost 30 other people, I was one of those who didn’t have a placement sorted at first. Or ever. Whatever.

When everyone else had left for their placements and after all of those heartfelt goodbyes, I went to bed (got very little proper sleep the night before). I was woken up by my flatmate Jami saying we had to be in the café at 3pm for some meeting. Dazed and confused, I went and saw all the other “rejects” gathered. In came Jerry and Kevin, two Chinese dudes who claimed to be the answer to all our problems. “We’ve got many schools in the south! Who wants to go south?”

Being the eager person that I am, only wanting a frickin placement asap, I said I did. 11am the next day, 18 of us rushed to a train taking us from Beijing to Guangzhou in 22h. Once arriving on Monday, those with placements went off to theirs, and left behind 10 of us, who were fortunate enough to be heading to Shenzhen in a mini minivan. A shower and some sleep was a luxury we were not granted, but we did get to see a bunch of schools and do a lot of interviews as soon as we got to Shenzhen. Being “black” wasn’t really benificial, so it took a while to get placed, but by Friday we found Shenzhen Oriental English College, where Charlie, Sigrid and me would be teaching from there on.

Many things in our contract with TTC were not upheld, such as individual rooms (Sigrid & I shared), kitchen, TV, DVD, mandarin lessons and in Charlie’s case also electricity, toilet and I don’t know if it was in the contract, but I’m sure tiles are not supposed to be randomly dropping onto your balcony… Despite all of this, we pulled through and taught as well as we could. Sure, there were difficulties, and rather tough weeks at times, but everything got a lot better once weekend arrived and it was time to visit Anja & Emma in Foshan. Wiie.

February 10, 2010

The one with the most intense four weeks ever

I said goodbye to my cosy, central hostel and went to the hotel around midday on July 30th, so I could leave my luggage there and have that over with. When I got to there, I realized it wasn’t any hotel. It was a quarantine hotel. Lovely. Even though I’d managed to spread my germs over half of Beijing, I was strongly discouraged from leaving the hotel. I couldn’t even get street food, but had to wait for dinner at 6pm. So I went to my room, complained to a bunch of people online and went to bed. When I woke up, it was way past dinnertime, and I only got to see some of the other TTC-participants before going to bed again.

7 days of temperature check at 7.30 & 15.30, breakfast, lunch and dinner containing almost the same kind of food and eventually also some class was quite a strain on my patience. Going from being completely free to being completely restricted was quite a change to adjust to, and I must admit I was quite grumpy the first couple of days. But eventually I softened up and started socializing, which turned out pretty good. Luckily we had a bar just outside the hotel to hang out at in the evenings, so all was good.

However, the real life began after the breakout. It’s just too much to tell, but it was great. We had two tour days where we visited the Great Wall, Summer Palace, Olympic City, Ming Tombs (BORING!), Pearl/Silk market, saw Chinese Acrobatics and ate Beijing Duck. During the week we had class from 8.30-16.00 which consisted mostly of learning how to teach English at different levels (we did play a LOT of games :). In our free time we went out, hung out, ate out, went shopping, did KTV or just chilled outside block 4.

Good times, good times indeed…

Graduation was a bittersweet event. We celebrated the fact that we did it (of course!) but were also sad that we would all part ways to leave for our placements in different parts of China. The German girls were all collecting everyone’s addresses and emails in little books, good friends were exchanging phonenumbers to stay in touch.

Some things you won’t remember, but the people you’ll never forget…

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February 9, 2010

The one with the whole new world

Once upon a time, there was a Me… or an I. Whatever. And ever since I first got on a plane and went as far away as Jordan when I was about 10, I’ve longed to get away again, and again, and again. But why China?

Honestly, I don’t remember. I suppose I was intrigued by the culture, and I kind of stumbled upon this Teach & Travel China thing online. I signed up for what I thought would be more information, but it turned out to be an official notification of interest, which led to a letter being sent to my home asking me to pay the initial fee or else I’d get fined. I didn’t mind, I figured it was the kick I needed to do something exciting, to say the least =)

I decided to hit Beijing on my own, ten days before the teacher training course would commence. It probably was one of my best ideas, as I got to experience China on my own, in my own pace, and meet quite a few interesting people whom I probably wouldn’t have spoken to if I were with a bunch of other people. I got my first dose of Chinese, Asian KTV, streetfood, noodles with soy bean sauce, Peking duck, and Wangfujing snack street (where they put funny stuff on a stick). I got to hang out with some locals as well as other travellers, and just hang out.

Ten days of complete freedom. Ah…

I got an email from one of the programme coordinators of TTC a couple of days before we were supposed to get the course people together, saying that the location had changed to some hotel in south-west Beijing. Fine. As I had met a couple of Americans who were hanging out in Beijing for a while, I had planned to go out with them the night I was supposed to move in with TTC, but to my surprise I had to cancel that date. Thank you swine flu…

February 8, 2010

I’m not there.

Hiya. I’ll be postin quite a few posts in the next few days. They will be of a story-telling nature. In a F.R.I.E.N.D.S spirit. Meaning, it’ll be in the form of “The one with/where…”

Hao ma?