I recieved a lot of requests lately about what is it like to live and teach here. I just happened to write a nice and long e-mail to a friend and I figured it would be good to share it with everyone else. so read on
I promised you a longer e-mail than the last one, so here it is. The problem is that I can’t remember what I wrote in the previous message, so pardon me if there are any redundancies.
As I propably mentioned, China has been pretty good to us. The folks at the university do as much as they can to keep us happy and we appreciate that. We do butt heads every so often about certain details… to some extent, it’s normal in in this neck of the woods.
We live on campus, about 10 steps away from where I teach.. I am sure you remember how much of a morning person I am (right..) so it’s great. I can stroll out of bed at 7:35 and be in time for my class at 7:50. I even have time for coffee.
The flat itself is the only downside to our life in Tangsan. It’s pretty darn small. WE have a decent kitchen, a western bathroom (they’re rare), and one semi-big living/bedroom. It’s a little bigger than a studio but not quite an appartment. It’s OK for living purposes when both Marina and I are awake but it’s hell if one of us is asleep. We’re trying to move out of campus into a regular appartment for next semester…. we’ll see.
The campus is new. They finished building and furnishing the appartments one day before we moved in. Funny thing is they tought of everything except …the kitchen sink. Yep, they forgot about it. We did get one installed about two weeks after we moved in so it wasn’t too bad. The ret of the buildings are 1 or two years old at the most and there are more being built right now. Sometimes, it seems as if the school changes every day.
The city, Tangshan, is much better than I anticipated before coming here. As you might know, it was leveled down by a massive earthquake in 1976 and they had to rebuild it from the ground up. I imagined that the architecture would be a blend of stallinian and maotist style but I guess I was wrong. It’s pretty well organised with a buch of parks and garden spread out. It’s also fairly clean compared to some of the other cities we have visited.
We can almost get everything we want here other than cheese. There’s an italian restaurant, a brazillian churascaria, an austrian joint that brews their own beer as well as the usual suspets (Mc D. and KFC)…. It could be worse. much worse.
oh yeah..we’re here to teach. I almost forgot.
We teach roughly 16 periods of 45 mn each and we enjoy they rest of our time. No admin duties or crap so we get quite a bit of rest. The kids ain’t all that bad but man…they love cheating. and they suck at it. In my writing class, I had to give 35 students ZERO for plagiarism. One of them turned in a review of Elijah Woods latest movie as her essay. Gimme a freaking break.
We got a nice bunch of folks that we hang out it mostly for drinks and food. and boy do we drink. we’ve spent countless lunches seated at a restaurant for over 5 or 6 hours just bullshitting around. On one occasion, we’ve had lunch and dinner at the same restaurant because we never left the place. If it sounds like too much drinking, it propably is. There isn’t much more to do around here. Sure, we could be more constructive and learn Chinese and other things but hat the hell….we deserved to rest for a little while.
I am prapbly making it sound like the greates thing that happened to me but it’s not… I’d much rather be back in Tallahassee riding my bike and enjoying a good conversation with new and old friends but it’s a different time. There are plenty of things that can be frustrating on a daily basis like the starring and loud “HELLO”s that we have to deal with. It’s also quite hard to depend on the Chinese because most of them never know what the heck is going on. Most people have a job to do and they do very little beyond that. So, to get any relevant information, you have to try and find someone in the know. Otherwise, you might stumble across someone that does not know jack and they will just tell you that whatever is impossible…
Wow, I think I wrote more than I initially expected. As I mentione, we’re enjoying our 2 months of paid vacation from the school so we decided to try and earn more cash by working down south for a bit. Can’t beat being paid to travel and work (sometimes).