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Published: July 15th 2006
I could almost imagine I was back in Costa Rica! Department store in Downtown Taizhou.
My first week (almost) in China has passed so quickly and has been filled with a kaleidoscope of new sights, smells, tastes and experiences.
The flight from Australia with a change in Singapore went smoothly and was made more interesting with animated discussions with two of my fellow passengers. In particular, Mr John Norman, an Aussie gent from Melbourne, who, like me, was travelling to China to teach English. We chatted freely about his experiences (he’s a China “veteran” of several years) and he gave me some valuable tips on what to expect. He is located in Hangzhou (Zhejiang Province) at the Zhejiang University of Sciences, about 5 hrs from where I will be teaching and we exchanged cards in order to keep in touch.
Formalities of customs and immigration dispensed with, I am eagerly met by my supervisor Mr Arthur Lee (Director of International Cooperation at Taizhou Normal College) and our very capable driver Mr Xu. They have been waiting for hours, so are keen to “hit the road” as soon as possible.
The journey to Taizhou, through the chaos that is Shanghai traffic, took a long 4.5 hours. This part of China is designated a SEZ
My New Abode
I am provided with a comfortable room, with plenty of storage space, an ensuite bathroom and all mod cons including reverse cycle air conditioner, TV, DVD player, computer with free ADSL internet connection and colour printer.
(Special Economic Zone) and is one of the fastest growing and dynamic regions in China. As far as the eye can see, there are cranes, new buildings, roads and bridges in various stages of construction. Arthur jokes “The whole of China is a construction site!” There is absolutely no doubt that this is a country on the move, and at a pace that is quite mind boggling, especially for the first time observer.
On arrival in Taizhou, I was quickly shown to my room and left to settle in. I was pleasantly surprised by my room. It is light and airy and relatively quiet as it faces the campus grounds and not the main road. (Thanks for the tip Lana) It is equipped with all mod-cons including a reverse cycle air-conditioning system that I imagine will be a god send in both the scorching summer and bone-chilling winter. I unpacked quickly, established my “home away from home” before falling into grateful sleep. My adventure in China had begun……..
The next day or two was spent in orientating myself and being introduced to many new people. Everyone is so friendly and helpful, and so excited and honoured that I
Photos and Aussie paraphenalia to help me feel at home
have chosen to teach at their college. We have been wined and dined and treated like near royalty, by anyone of importance to do with the college. (More on that in another blog!)
I am one of only two Foreign English teachers here this term, the other being a young Chinese American girl known as Victoria. Her boyfriend Bobby is also staying with her from Los Angeles. They are a lovely couple, and have helped me find the local supermarket and generally navigate my way around town. Victoria is also a bonus as she speaks near perfect Chinese. As for Bobby and I (he is also Chinese American) we have very little Chinese, but we will start lessons next week!
My teaching schedule is very generous. I teach a total of 14 lessons a week, with 7 different classes. Each class has 2 lessons of 45minutes back to back (with a 10 minute break between). I teach 4 mornings a week from 7.50am to 11.30am and have every afternoon off and the weekend, as well. A long weekend- every weekend! The college is very keen to give us as much opportunity as possible to explore and see the
This light and airy room is a great place to share a meal with my new friends.
sights while we are here.
My students are so lovely, so eager and willing to learn. I have 3 freshman (1st yr) English Education major classes, 3 sophomore (2nd yr) English Education major classes and 1 freshman Business English major class. Class sizes vary from 36-46, a little smaller than I had expected, which is good. Their English proficiency varies quite a lot within and between each class, as you would imagine, so my main task will be to first help them gain the confidence to speak in English and not to worry so much about making mistakes. This is a big issue for Chinese students, as they are encouraged to be perfect in every way. Making a mistake involves “loss of face”, something to be avoided at all costs, so I will need to treat this with some sensitivity.
So ends my first week in China. I have settled in well and am enjoying my new life enormously, even though it’s early days. Everyone has gone out of their way to make me feel at home. Particular thanks must go to Arthur, my supervisor and the ever patient Vivian my Chinese co teacher. Also to Ms Fan
Extensive views East from the dining room illustrate the rapidly changing way of life for Taizhou inhabitants
the Dean of Foreign languages and members of her English teaching staff who have also been so supportive and encouraging in my first days in Taizhou Normal College.
A final word of acknowledgement and a big "Thank You" must go to Dianne and Graham Goulding and Lana Malakunas, previous Foreign Teachers at Taizhou Normal College who patiently answered my many questions prior to my departure via email and telephone. Dianne and Graham also acted as "go betweens" to assist in the speedy and safe delivery of my Chinese paperwork. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
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