Published: May 25th 2009September 6th 2008
At our TEFL lessons.
On Saturday morning one of the teaching assistants came to our hostel to take us to Hongkou school. Hongkou is kind of north Shanghai and there's a famous football stadium there. Just how famous I'm not too sure since I don't really follow football at all never mind Chinese football, but I think they held some of the Olympic football games there. We watched one of the lessons (Rabbit class) by a teacher called Ben and this is one of the classes we'll actually be teaching. After this it was time for Starbucks. I'm so glad coffee is becoming mainstream here otherwise I'd be asleep most of the time. When we got back it was John's, our friend from the TEFL course, turn to teach a class and straight after it was our turn. We had Elephant class, which are 'kindergarten' level, but their English is amazing! Luckily they're really well behaved as well, probably due to there being only one boy in the whole class of about 10. At first it was a bit difficult to get them motivated and we struggled a bit, but after about 20 minutes things went a bit more smoothly and they really started to
The hostel cafe/bar.
enjoy the class. We played 'snakes & ladders' with them, where they get to roll a big die if they get questions right, 'teacher says', where we say an action and they repeat the word and act it out, and letter races where the class is divided up into two groups and they have to systematically run up to the board with chalk and write letters. Overall I think our first paid teaching lesson was a success.
When we had finished we got the metro back to our hostel to email the woman from the company who we did our first interview with. Basically saying 'no, thank you', as politely as we could. Literally 3 minutes after we sent the email she phoned me to bully us even further into taking the job. We still didn't take it and we've heard since that she's quite pissed off with us. I have no idea how that happened since every job interview I've had in England is based on selling yourself to the company. Where as in this interview, there were hardly any questions directed at us and we were basically told we were taking the job. She even drew up
The hostel cat, Mimi.
a schedule for us. Crazy.
In the evening we went for a bike ride with our friend Asya to find a Macao style restaurant we'd previously been to. Good, good food! After, we found a bar called Season which was cool. There was a band playing covers with some people from the audience going up and singing. But we played darts instead. Cycling at night is cool since the roads aren't the usual dangerous, gridlocked mess they are in the day and because Shanghai is pretty flat, you can get some good speed. Clare managed to break her pedal on the way home though and Asya's handles were practically falling off but we did only pay about £14 so it's kind of a given that that would happen.
So in the morning we went across the road, got the bike fixed and cycled to Carrefour which is a French supermarket. There are many French people living in Shanghai so it seems only right that they should get their own supermarket. Although apparently there are a few Tesco's about as well. And Wal-Marts. After living in a hostel for two weeks I was in desperate need of an iron,
Jinmao & SWFT
The Jinmao and the Shanghai World Finance Tower in Pudong.
so we went with the intention of buying the cheapest one possible, which we found and came to about £3. As soon as I put it in the trolley one of the assistants ushered us to his desk and starting trying to sell us this deluxe iron/steamer thing. And he was really trying hard to sell it to us. So after a few attempts of trying to utter 'too expensive' and 'this one we have here is good for us' in Chinese and a lot of over emphasised hand gestures and pointing, I finally decided that what he was trying to sell was actually pretty funky, (you know, for an iron) so I bought it. That's a good salesman who can sell without even speaking a word of English. I was impressed. Although a week later I still haven't ironed my clothes.
Monday 8th September. Went for a job interview with Clare, John and Asya. Its teaching adults from intermediate to advanced level which I'm not too keen on to be honest, but Clare was quite impressed. Its good pay and really good holidays but I think I would get bored teaching adults for a whole year. Afterwards we
View from SWFT
The view from the Shanghai World Finance Tower.
went for lunch to a Japanese noodle restaurant, where John and Asya had the classic arguement of Capitalism vs. Socialism, and Clare finally bought a Chinese mobile phone so I can stop taking her calls. When we got back to the hostel, the company we had just been to have interviews with had already emailed us about the jobs and Clare also had a phone call from another company she had applied to asking for her resume. It's kinda scary now all the job stuff is starting. The tourist feeling is really starting to fade but I still can't get my head round the fact that we'll be living and working here.
Tuesday we had our 2nd and 3rd classes at Hongkou School. I'm really enjoying teaching the classes and I think I've decided I'd definitely rather teach kids than adults. We got talking to one of the people already working at the school called John, who shares a few similarities with Clare. He was born in the same hospital in Portsmouth, then moved to the Wirral, then started teaching English in Shanghai, and has the same birthday as her brother. He took us to a big pool hall
View from SWFT
The view from the Shanghai World Finance Tower.
so we could show him how crap we are and John and Asya, the Americans, told us they have never heard of snooker! This is crazy.
After our TEFL class on Wednesday morning, Clare went for an interview with the company who called her on Monday night. I tagged along and was very impressed by them; they also offer a decent salary with good holidays. Clare's pretty much decided that she's probably gonna work for one of these 2 companies. Since I don't have a degree I won't be able to go for a job that offers such good holidays which is a bit crap. The interview went well and the interviewer took us to another office all the way across the river in Pudong.
When we were finished there we went to the Shanghai World Financial Centre which is the world's tallest building at 492 metres (1,614ft) and has only been open since the end of August when we arrived. It looks a little bit like a giant bottle opener with a rectangle cut out at the top and was designed by a Japanese architect. This was originally designed to be a circle to reduce wind pressure and would have also fitted in with Chinese mythology which represents the Earth as a square and the sky as a circle. But protests from residents, including the mayor of Shanghai forced the design to be changed because when the sun was visible through the hole they thought it would be too similar to the 'rising sun' of the Japanese Flag, and relations between these two countries aren't great for obvious reasons. Although the sun appearing through a rectangle looks a lot more like the Japanese flag to me.
You enter the building through the basement where they show you a pointless but impressive nonetheless lightshow with a model of the tower spinning round accompanied by ambient music. After that you shoot up the 'light-speed elevator' which I doubt goes at light speed but it is bloody fast. We got to the 94th floor at about 6 o'clock so it was still daylight. The view was amazing but somewhat spoiled by the pollution. The 97th floor is right at the bottom of the rectangle and with a glass ceiling so you can see the people above on the 100th, which has a glass floor so you can see the people on the 97th. By the time we got to the 100th floor it was about 8 o'clock and dark. This is when the view got spectacular! The lights from the street lamps and the buildings penetrated any pollution for miles and miles. If anyone comes to Shanghai I fully recommend you experience China's largest city from the world's tallest man-made object.
More photos here