It’s 国庆节 (guóqìngjié), or National Holiday. This means I have an entire week of no classes. This year the holiday commemorates 60 years of the PRC. The Chinese flag is hanging in every nook and cranny; flags are also displayed on cars and taxis.
You are probably wondering what shenanigans I have been up to in Xian. Well, to be frank, not much. My schedule has essentially followed the same pattern for the last two weeks, when classes began. Prior to that, I was spending a lot of time visiting the gym, or studying 汉语, Chinese.
I am a newfound fan of list making, so I will recite my schedule as such:
a. Morning Classes – These are conversational classes. I am teaching first years again. During the first week of classes, all of my Tourism English students clapped for me as I entered the room.
b. Lunch with my 妹妹, younger sisters (Huihui, Beibei, and Yang Di）- The girls are third year students now. I always enjoy their company. They are extremely helpful and patient when we converse in Chinese. They also give me a fair chance to practice and a whole lot of encouragement. We will eat in the canteen or opt for some Sichuan sweetness. There is a dish that due to its simplicity is absolutely delightful; I don’t know its name in Chinese but it is sugared sweet potatoes.
c. Afternoon Class – I teach the MICE (Management in Event and Conference Services) listening and speaking. This is a class of 42 students, and as this particular subject is new to me and my department, I am a bit of a lost little lamb as to how to adequately teach this class. As it has only been two weeks, I am being optimistic that I will find my way to pasture again.
d. Gym – I am still going to the same gym as last year. Sara, the Italian teacher is my companion. We are going 4-5 times a week. The effect is noticeable. I have dropped around 5 kilos. Yes, I am growing accustomed to the metric system. As the US is the only godforsaken country that doesn’t use it, I felt it necessary to adapt accordingly.
a. Morning Classes – Again, conversational classes. So far, not much conversation can be noted. It’s a lot of me talking or explaining directions. It will just take them time to warm up to me.
c. Chinese class – I have continued my lessons with the same teacher from last year. I am very excited because I have moved on from the first level of my textbook. Book 2 of the series I use has no pinyin (romanticized alphabet), just 汉字, or characters. It’s challenging, but it is what I need to further my language studies. I am studying all aspects of the language with my Chinese reader: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. I am going to begin to use a text suggested by my teacher Selina for reading exercises. My character recognition is not at the level it should be.
a. Morning classes – Listening and speaking classes for the Management students. These classes are still quite large, but not as unbearable as the MICE class.
a. Morning Class – Listening and speaking class for Planning students. I don’t have to get up at 6am, which is quite a nice change. I get up around 8. By the time this class rolls around, I no longer feel like the lost little lamb previously mentioned. As it is the last listening and speaking class of the week, I have my lesson plan down pat. Ah, the pitfalls of being a teacher!
b. Weiqu with Linda – Linda, my German friend who I met while she was visiting Tine last term, lives in Weiqu, an area smack between the old and new campus. We walk around the area where there are many restaurants and shops that are far cheaper than where I live. Of course, this also means there are no foreigners so we frequently can hear the “laowai” expression uttered.
a. Chinese class – This is my class with Selina.
c. Chinese class – Yes, you have read this correctly. On my day off, I have 4 hours of Chinese class. I have found a new teacher as I want some extra structured practice. I still have trouble conversing with my previous students as most of them are not generous about creating a balance between practicing Chinese and English. And forget about making additional Chinese friends. Generally speaking, the Chinese I have met really just want to practice their English. Of course, I get extra practice with Jason, Daphney, and my 妹妹。 When I do get the chance to see Hui Li, my 姐姐 (elder sister), she is also very encouraging.
a. Gym – Sara and I go to yoga class. We are struggling less, as in we look less awkward or out of place. Although the teacher speaks only Chinese, I am beginning to recognize more of what she says so that I can get the most relaxing experience.
a. Tutoring & Lesson Planning – This is my all around day to either make some extra money or prepare my lessons for classes.
Stay tuned for some actual Xiananigans: my very first professional football (as in soccer) game, the teacher’s trip to Sanyuan, and a recap of my final months last year. I’ll try to pull in as many visuals as I can to reaffirm my commitment to writing in my little spot.