13.08.2011 - 30.08.2011 36 °C
The adventure has begun.
I had been in Beijing for about two hours when the beer drinking and friend making commenced. By the end of the night, I had seen the world's smallest kitten (and nearly stepped on it...), been caught in a rainstorm and squashed myself with two other people into a bicycle taxi which was clearly not made for more than one and proceeded to get lost in the city streets which by this point, had turned into rivers. A great way to meet people and get over a very long flight with an unhealthy lack of sleep....
This pretty much reflects the past two weeks in Beijing which in amongst the teacher training and Mandarin lessons, has pretty much just been a really fun holiday. There were about 110 of us interns in total, most of whom had never met and we were all staying at the same hotel. The hotel became a little home, with there always being someone around to talk to and spread the word about what everyone planned to do. We tried to achieve everything there is to do in Beijing including eating scorpions (still wriggling) and snake, visiting the city sights, climbing the Great Wall of China, watching an acrobatic show (which is more nerve wracking than a horror film), haggling for clothes at the market, writing our own caligraphy and doing tai chi which is actually very difficult for a person with no co-ordination. We also experienced some brilliant nights out; £3 club entry with a free bar, it would be rude not to..., Chinese karaoke and hanging out in the local bar whilst watching a Janet Jackson concert dvd to name just a few!
Food from this part of the trip that I would NOT recommend include hard boiled egg with bloody veins, banana sushi, chicken feet (which I have recently discovered you can actually get vacuum packed, if anyone fancies me bringing them home a treat!), chicken beak, chicken entrails and something that looked like an omlette but was infact pastry filled with grass. As in, lawn grass... Another particular dislike for many people was cold mashed potato in swirls with a very sweet cranberry sauce and hundreds and thousands. However, I actually liked this but I think I was the only one!
On the plus side, the food that is amazing far outweighs the bad experiences. Peking duck in it's home of Beijing literally did melt in the mouth and lunch or dinner Chinese style involves a big round table with far too much food so you get to sample everything, it's delicious! My chopstick using abilty is also improving by the day!
After the two weeks were up, it was time to say goodbye to some already great friends and there were many promises to meet up again during our time here. With farewells over, we were all sent to our various locations around the country, mine being a town called Beilun in the Zhejiang province, which is about an hour and a half away from Shanghai.
After a 17 hour train journey which actually wasn't as bad as it sounds, apart from waking up from a dream in the middle of the night and screaming out in my sleep whilst in the little compartment I was sharing with a Chinese family, we arrived at our destination.
I'm teaching in my school with another girl named Kat and so it was very reassuring to have someone with me. We stepped off the train, feeling rather sweaty and unclean and were straight away taken to the school and immediatly rushed into a lunch with all the teachers from our department. Lunch was another big round table, featuring all the kinds of food you don't really want to eat infront of people you have only just met and need to impress, such as prawns and whole crab. The low point was probably the knife and fork being fetched in order for me to eat the fish...however, everyone seemed very nice and excited to meet us.
We were then taken to see our rooms which are much nicer than I expected, with a double bed and my own bathroom as well as my own personal water cooler and a hat stand, very useful for when I come in from the rain and need to hang up my soaking sowester or my top hat after dining with the principle.
The school itself is a boarding school and I will be teaching ages 15-17. The pressure is on as apparently it's down to us to make sure they know enough English to pass their entrance exams into university. I have also been informed that one of my classes is a class with just nine boys who are naughty and mostly enjoy sleeping in their lessons. This will be fun. The kids also march around the school and salute and there is a bell which is the song from the Nutcracker which sounds randomly and which, we have just discovered, is very creepy when played across the school in the dark.
I have a 10pm curfew which sounds awful but considering the fact that there is only one bar in the whole town, I don't think will be too much of a problem. I also think I will be very sleepy after my 8-5 working days which will be a bit of a shock after my Tapas hours.
I start teaching on Thursday so depending how it goes, I could be seeing you all back in England around about Sunday!! xx