Hello Friends and Family
I apologize for the long wait for my latest blog installment. As you can tell from the title, I have been quite busy in China. I wear many different “hats” in China and they all take up a significant portion of my time. I teach English 20 hours a week, I have 10 hours of Mandarin 1 on 1 classes five times a week (not to mention my study time), and I still have three Graduate courses I am taking this semester. All in all, my days are very busy, but I absolutely love it. There is something about living in a big city that wants you to work very hard.
I have been here for almost two weeks yet it already seems like it has been two months. It is crazy how quickly you can settle into a foreign country once you have a daily routine. My typical day begins at 6 AM with a morning run, followed by one to three English classes (depending on the day), 2 hours of Mandarin study, 2 hours of Mandarin class, dinner, lesson planning/graduate homework, bed. Monday-Thursday I have almost every hour accounted for, Friday and Saturday I do not have English class nor Mandarin class (whoop whoop) and Sunday is a typical student Sunday filled with work. This Friday/Saturday I am headed to Shanghai for my program’s welcoming banquet!! I am very excited to see Shanghai and to see some of my MAIS (my graduate program) friends that I have not seen for a month! I am also excited to compare Hangzhou and Shanghai.
I am sure you are all interested in what exactly my English classes are like. So…..
I teach at a Engineering college with three different majors: International Engineering, Business Engineering, and Construction Engineering. I teach three different years (it is a three year program) Oral English, and I also teach first years Western Culture. None of my students are English majors, so usually only 80% of the class is motivated to learn English. One of my daily challenges is motivating these students, which I have done (somewhat) successfully so far! As each day passes, I can see steady improvement in my teaching and a more dedicated response from my students. My students’ Oral English ranges from rather fluent (could survive in America) to struggling to say “I am from China”. They are all around 18-22 years old (I told them I am 25) and it is about half girls and half boys. I already have my “favorite” classes and my “if you take out your phone again I will literally throw it at the wall” classes. Overall, it is not too strenuous, yet it is very exciting when you notice the students actually improving (and that I am actually teaching)!
As for my Mandarin classes, I decided to make the investment to enroll at a Mandarin center for 1 on 1 Mandarin classes. So I have 10 hours of class (5 x 2 hour classes) a week until the middle of March. Lucky for me, my Mandarin teacher is AWESOME. She is very nice and eager to teach me, not to mention that she is also funny and pretty! We are only 3 classes in, yet I can tell this is going to be a very worthwhile experience. I can also already tell that my Mandarin has improved (especially speaking) and that by March I will feel very comfortable with the language.
My hope (for now) is that after this program is done I will get a job at a study abroad company, like CIEE or IES, and work in their China division (either in Shanghai, Beijing, Kunming, or Xi’an). In order to do this, I will have to pass at least the 4th level of the HSK (Chinese fluency test). Right now I am at level 2, so hopefully after some hard work I can improve. I want to do this for a couple years and then (hopefully) earn my Ph.D in International Education Policy (either at Maryland of UCLA). This would allow me to work at the federal level and help improve our country’s education policy, specifically our international education policy. Just a little information as to why exactly I am in China..
Anyways, life in Hangzhou has been everything I have hoped for and more. Every day is a challenge, yet it always provides me the opportunity to learn and grow. I am only young once, so I might as well make the most of it. As any expat knows, the thrill of living in a foreign country and having daily new experiences is like no other high. I look forward to what the coming days, weeks, and months have in store for me!!
As always, feel free to talk to me through Facebook or let me know if you want to Skype! I miss you guys so it is always nice to hear from friends every once in a while! I hope all is good on the home front.
Until the next time