A Travellerspoint blog

Look! Western toilet ^^

The maintence dep still need to fix brick today.Please be at your appart.Thanks”


The maintenance people just left. They knocked on my door this morning 08:45. I was already up, because I was expecting them anytime soon. The lady responsible for our rooms (I can’t remember ever meeting her) said that they would stop by Saturday and Sunday. Wednesday 07.48 she sent me this text: “The maintence dep still need to fix brick today.Please be at your appart.Thanks” Yes, the bad spelling is on purpose. Please notice how she didn’t even mention when they’ll be there, it’s not like I don’t have classes to attend! And this was the first time I’ve heard of any ‘brick’ that needed fixing. I thought they were installing a washing machine (I still don’t have one). The ‘brick’ turned out to be some roof repair. Which I’ve been seeing (and hearing…) over the past few days. Two guys were outside my door when I opened, one in red builder’s uniform (like overalls) the other in full police- looking attire. They walked straight through my room, to the balcony. The one in red clothes climbed on the outside of the building, standing in the open kitchen window. I didn’t check if they had any security equipment. But I think he had a plastic helmet, you know that’s useful if you fall from the 7th floor…They stayed for 2 hours, the only sign of them being here is the dust and debris on my balcony.

When the mysterious, maintenance lady called me on Thursday, I told her I was in my office and couldn’t make it. I had to work. Through the bad connection and heavy accent I heard “Saturday and Sunday”. I told her I might be gone the entire weekend. But apparently they only needed my permission to enter my room, while I was gone. I was planning on storing my valuables in Amanda’s room next door. But this turned out to not be necessary. We decided to have a ‘quiet’ weekend instead and just go to our local area. This was perfect for me, because I was exhausted after my one hellish Friday lesson. I can honestly say that 3B is my worst class so far. They’re my only class on Fridays, but I suspect there’s a reason why. They. Are. Impossible.

I was tired beyond myself and didn’t feel like going on a long, weekend trip spending a night or two far away from here. I didn’t want to spend too much money either, because we will probably go somewhere next weekend to celebrate Mark and Jeppe’s birthdays (the two Danish guys). I’m not sure where we’ll go yet. So this weekend we met with the other TTC and i-i people placed here. We had a fairly cheap dinner at a restaurant (we were eight people and paid about 21 yuan each) We took a bus, trying to find somewhere new to go. We ended up at a diner, but we didn’t want to stay in this area as it was not much going on. We contacted an i-i person who’s been here longer than all of us, he was at a KTV quite close to us, with a little help from his Chinese friend we managed to tell the directions to the cab driver. We arrived without any problems. His Chinese friend was having a wedding party here and came to greet us. The ten of us got a room together (complete with a bathroom/western toilet- our one luxury) and spent a few hours singing our hearts out. When it passed midnight, we decided it was time to head home.

I had completely forgotten about my maintenance appointment the following morning, I realized this just as I went to bed. I had to wake up early, because I didn’t know when they would show up. They’ve left now, but I can still hear the sound of tools pounding at walls/roof. I hope they finish soon. Speaking of the constant noises; My Friday morning was terrible, as I’ve mentioned earlier my building is located right next to Leads Kindergarten (Where Jeppe and Mark are placed). Every morning they play music and have exercises, which I haven’t been to bothered with so much. Until this Friday, when they chose to play Hannah Montana… I couldn’t sleep anymore and all I could feel was pity for those poor, little children. They also played the Hokey Pokey song which is equally annoying.

P. E seems to be very important at our school. We have multiple sport arenas (running tracks), basketball courts and a swimming pool on campus. Every day the students have do some kind of exercises/marching/dancing in sync. And you also have the ‘eye exercises, where students rub their faces for 15 min. every day. It’s a bit strange, but you get used to the weirdest things when you’re exposed to something like that over time.

Today is Saturday. I don’t really have any definite plans. I might do some laundry, using Amanda's washing machine. It shouldn’t be a problem..

I also have to decide on a topic for my lessons next week. I have quite a few ideas, it’s just hard to pick one and figure out what I can do with the topic. I haven’t used their books yet. All the books are very similar, no matter what Grade it’s for. They consist of absurd conversations and situations which I don’t really find useful. But I might have to use the books in the misbehaving classes, this is what they’re used to. I’m sure that if they don’t have this kind of structure, they are more likely to misbehave in class. But most of my classes do fine without their book. I often get the younger ones to draw things, because it’s easier to speak to them while they’re busy drawing. They’re more relaxed and produce more language this way.

We’ve had quite a few gray days recently, because of pollution etc. But the temp. is still comfortably warm. I doubt I’ll need my jacket here at all anymore. I hope we get blue skies, so that I can take some nice pictures of the campus, to put on here for you to see.

Posted by ChinaSarah 20:47 Archived in China Tagged accommodation china weekend shenzhen maintainance ktv primary_school Comments (0)

My first week

(Written 28 February 2011)


The first week has been very interesting. It has taught me that teaching is not always all routine and repetition (not in the beginning at least). All my classes are quite different, even my two 5th Grade classes. Something might work really well in one class and not at all in the next. I don’t know what to expect, I’m constantly surprised by the students. Some catch on really quickly, while others try to understand but can’t, the rest would not care even if I brought an elephant into the classroom. Some are really loud, fighting, shouting- a few sit and read and neglect the work I’ve given them- even fewer actually do what they’re told. Despite the difficulties, I’m having fun. It’s just very tiring, I’ve had to take a few naps this week. But the challenges is what makes this so exciting, I learn a lot about myself and about being a teacher.

This weekend, I finally got to unwind. We went to Shenzhen City centre. It took about 2h. with bus and subway to get there. Luckily our hostel was very close to the subway stop. We arrived Friday, early in the evening and returned Sunday afternoon. We met some of the others who are placed near us, I haven’t had the chance to see them until now. I know a couple of them from our stay in Beijing- they’re both german.The rest are a little older, they’re the i-i people. Mostly native speakers. They took the TEFL online and had no Teaching Practice included in the programme, like we had. They seem like nice people.

We had a blast. We went out to eat together a few times and looked around for shopping, reastaurants and bars.We became very familiar with the area around our hostel (Coco Park) big, many tall buildings, foreigners, western places, etc. Saturday we went to Dunkin’ Doughnuts for breakfast. I went window shopping with two of the girls. But I was in no mood for shopping, firstly because I was so tired, secondly I didn’t bring my list and couldn’t remember all the things I needed. But it seemed like a nice place. One of the malls was so huge, we had to search for almost an hour for just one store (Zara). We found it in the end, but I was immediately put off by the “western prices”. I might need to find a market where I can haggle. This weekend I might join the guys at the electronic market, it’s supposedly one of the largest of its kind.

I had three classes today (Monday). I got up early to finish what I’d planned. The first lesson (5B) went really well. 6C and 5A, weren’t that great. I basically did the same thing in all the lessons, to see how the different classes responded. Because I didn’t start making classroom maps until last Wednesday- I had to make a few today. I got the students to trace their feet, and inside they wrote their names, class and age + three goals (had to explain this word of course) they have for this year. I was very amused by some of the things 5B wrote, they did well. I didn’t collect all of the paper from the two other classes (6C and 5A), because many didn’t finish it, or completed with little effort- if any. The lady who’s been showing up in my class a couple of times (to calm down the students) was in my first class today, but I didn’t mind. I guess she just wanted to observe and she seemed satisfied with my lesson. But she didn’t tell me anything. She just asked me what goals are (3 min. after I explained it on the board *sigh*), so she could translate to one of the students…

I met Amanda in the canteen for lunch. She told me some lady had contacted her about my room. This lady said she was responsible for our rooms. The only problem I can think of is that I don’t have a washing machine. Nick told me yesterday that he’d seen a washing machine outside our building before we left for the weekend. It rained a bit on Saturday, so I hope they stored it inside somewhere since then. Amanda gave the lady my local number, and she was surprised when I told her that nobody had called me yet. She’ll probably show up at my door anytime now. Amanda said she might come tomorrow. But when? Nobody knows. The lady didn’t know when I had classes, which isn’t that hard to figure out, just ask a teacher for a copy of my schedule… I have classes all day tomorrow, so I can’t wait in my room, like the lady apparently suggested… I have no idea what this is all about…

According to http://www.yr.no/place/China/Guangdong/ we have 26 degrees right now (Yeah, be jealous!) I think it’s fairly accurate, it’s a bit cloudy- but warm. Light breeze. I can’t remember how cold it was in Beijing, it’s so warm here! But this is the “coldest” month here, and this is comfortable for me, not too hot. I don’t know how I’ll deal with 35- 40 degrees…I might just die here… I just hope my AC works when the heat comes over us.

There’s always noise outside here. Whether it be the creepy music they play over the speakers or babies crying, people talking. Always. Something. Every morning at 7:00 they start playing music, so it’s not really possible to get more sleep after that. Instead of a bell that signals the start and end of each class, they play an annoying melody. Hearing this melody several times a day is enough to drive a person crazy. But the end of my last class today, I couldn’t hear it, because all 30 students jumped up and ran out the second they heard that first note; it was time for lunch.

I’m going to upload my pictures in bulks, hopefully in chronological order. (Right now they're mixed up) You can also look at the videos/pictures on here:


Make sure you’re on the TTC page and click the ones marked Winter Intake 2011.

If you freeze the overview video (the one on the very top) on 02:35 (on the rickshaw ride) If you look closely; you can actually see me(kinda) on the rickshaw, sitting on the right (really bad quality, though)

- Cecilie

Posted by ChinaSarah 05:24 Archived in China Comments (0)

My placement

I'm in Shenzhen!


It's been awhile since I wrote an entry on here, so I think it's time to update more often. I just got the internet in my accommodation set up, so now I can keep in touch with people more easily. I'm writing this from my room in Shenzhen. But I'll tell you a little about my stay in Beijing, where I spent a month on the TEFL course.

I've had a wonderful 4 weeks in Beijing. Our training was so much fun, I met a bunch of people and experienced many great things. We had two tour days, we saw the Great Wall, Summer Palace, the Water Cube, Bird's Nest, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and more. We were busy most of the time. There was not much time to write home, since we had to finish all of our assignments the last week. These assignments had to be good, because they were evaluated and influenced our placements. Towards the end of our stay, we received quite a lot of information. We had Contract Signing, and a few meetings. We had Teaching Practice for four days (February 14th- 17th) at a Beijing school. We were divided into groups of 4-5 interns. Each group had one class by themselves. My group was in Middle School, teaching 15- 16 year old students. I remember that the first thing I noticed was the cameras in front and in the back of the classroom- recording everything that happened. But I was never once bothered by them when I was teaching. The four of us had 30 min. each in front of class. It was a very character building experience. The fourth day we were being observed by our Canadian tutor, Robert. It was our last day, and a bit sad to have to say goodbye to all of the students.

Our Graduation ceremony was on the evening of the 17th. We went to a local restaurant. We received our TEFL certificate (theoretical part). Once we complete our placement at our school, we will get the practical part. After dinner, we were taken to a bar, where we met the people from the other programme (some of us TTC people are placed with them) They took the TEFL course online, and didn't have Teaching Practice. We could stand on the roof and view the spectacular last fireworks in the sky (this was Lantern Festival). Because of Chinese New Year (which was in the beginning of February) fireworks were being blown off everywhere for 2 weeks straight. It sounded like a war zone, but eventually we got used to it and I managed to sleep well despite the constant explosions.

A few days before our departure date, a list on the wall revealed our future home in China. According to the list, I was going to Dongguan (in Guangdong)- teaching primary school at Little Oxford Foreign School. This southern province was my first choice when I signed up, so I was lucky! Most of us ended up in the southern region, and we're fairly close to each other so it's possible to meet the others on the weekends. When our plane landed in Foshan February 19th, I was still set on going to Dongguan. We were 8- 9 people on the same flight. We were being picked up at the airport by our contact person, Danfer. We all managed to get inside this tiny van, but it was very uncomfortable, with all of our luggage on our laps. We were on our way to our schools, when our packed van, suddenly pulled over. Danfer talked to someone on the phone. When he got back into our cramped vehicle, he said: "Cecilie, there's been a change" I asked him what the change was, and he told me that me and another participant in the van just switched cities, so I got Shenzhen and he got Dongguan. I was fine with this, because I knew other people going to Shenzhen, but I knew nothing about the school. So I arrived without any expectations.

When we finally got to Shenzhen (which took hours because of complications along the way). We stopped at our school. Shenzhen Oriental English College. We were greeted by the vice president. One of the first things she told us was: "You look so smart, and so beautiful!" She showed us around the campus. First of all, our campus is really big, like an university campus. There's so many departments and buildings, but I know my way around it now. It was dark when we arrived so we didn't see much. But I saw an outside swimming pool and a skating rink. It's surrounded by lovely, green mountains. Our first afternoon we went for a walk up the mountain path, we went almost all the way to the top- but the path goes on several km. into the mountains. All the greenery and humidity here is much preferred to the gray, icy air of Beijing. The second I stepped out of the plane, I thought "Already so much better than Beijing". Although the air might be as polluted, it still feels better. We were taken to our accommodation the night we arrived. Our rooms are on the 7th floor. I'm glad I don't have to carry my suitcase down all those stairs for another 4/5 months. The first days/nights in Shenzhen were very cold. But today it started to warm up a bit, and the sun managed to break through the cloudy sky.

Our first day teaching was February 21st. I have 13 lessons a week (one class once a week) Two 1st Grade classes, two 2nd Grade classes, two, 3rd Grade classes, two 4th Grade classes, two 5th Grade classes and three 6th Grade classes. I have primary school and had three lessons that Monday. 2x 5th Grade, and one 6th Grade class. These students can be a little troublesome, because they're at that age when they just have so much energy and many are easily bored in class. Today (Thursday) I had two classes (one 3rd Grade class and one 1st Grade class) Both lessons went well, but the first graders get out of control sometimes. I have only one class tomorrow, (3rd grade) and can leave for the day when I go for lunch. We've been eating at the canteen a lot. It's not as big as the one in Beijing, but the food is OK. It's mostly rice, cooked veggies and mysterious meat/tofu.

Tomorrow we're thinking about going into Shenzhen City centre, to explore more. So far, we've been to our "local street" a few times. There's not much to do there. There's a supermarket, a couple of restaurants and a few narrow streets lined with shops- selling cheap stuff. We can take the school bus from outside our dorm. We've also taken it to the "community" a commercial centre 25 min. away with a bigger supermarket, KFC, McDonald's and other Western restaurants. There's supposed to be more to see in that area- so I'm eager to go back and discover what else there is to see. I think it's important that I don't get too comfortable in my room (which I doubt will ever happen). My accommodation is basic, but at least I have a western toilet and warm water anytime. Some were less fortunate, with warm water only supplied 2 hours a day and a Chinese toilet. I have a little balcony- with a kitchen. There's a fan- but no stove. I looked in the cupboards and found an old, rusty lump of metal that used to be a gas stove, I will never dare to use it. But if I feel the urge to cook something myself, I can probably find a hot plate somewhere.

Many people are placed around us, because apparently this is a big school area. Everyone might meet in Shenzhen city soon, which would be great. I miss everyone I met in Beijing. Hopefully we'll meet some of them here and hear how their placements are like.

I will upload my pictures on here soon. But for now you can check out:

We were almost 100 participants, so don't expect to see much footage of me. But at least you can see what we've been up to.

- Cecilie

Posted by ChinaSarah 00:18 Archived in China Comments (1)

Nå reiser jeg!

Nå er dagen kommet. Dagen som jeg har tenkt på med både glede og sorg (mest glede altså!). Jeg forlater Norge og vender nesen mot øst. Jeg myser mot Midtens rike, Kina. Et land med uendelig lang historie og rik kultur, blir mitt nye hjem de neste seks månedene.

Nå er det kun noen timer til jeg legger ut på eventyr. Jeg kjenner at jeg er sliten av å pakke (les: som ble gjort i siste liten, selvsagt) og å forberede meg til opplevelsene jeg har i vente. Opplevelser som garantert kommer til å ta pusten fra meg uansett hvor forberedt jeg måtte være. Hensikten med denne bloggen er først og fremst å dokumentere mine opplevelser. Samtidig ønsker jeg å gi en liten innsikt i kinesiske skikker, tradisjoner og livsstil. Kort sagt har jeg lyst til å formidle det 'ekte' Kina, så langt det lar seg gjøre. Innleggene blir nok både på engelsk og norsk. Jeg forutser at det blir flere engelske innlegg underveis i oppholdet, siden dette er språket jeg kommer til å bruke mest. Nå er det tid for noen timer søvn for det bærer av gårde til flyplassen!

再见 zài jiàn

- Cecilie

Posted by ChinaSarah 16:01 Comments (0)

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