I have been in Hangzhou since Sunday morning around 1am… Traveling since Friday when Adam dropped me off at the airport around 2:30pm. I still haven’t beaten the jet-lag… I woke up at 3 in the morning and have been up since. Luckily, my “hotel room,” which is more like a fancy studio apartment, has a balcony that looks out over a lovely scene of construction and more hotels, and in the distance you can see the city skyline… sort of… through the smog.
The days here in Hangzhou are grey. The color of the sky cannot be seen through the thick smog that sits in the heavy air. The humidity in the air makes the temperatures feel nearly 15 degrees warmer… Making today “feel like” 102 degrees. I have been showering two to three times a day.
The school I am working for is completely disorganised. Today was our first day of classes, and I was informed last night around 7pm that I was being moved to a different school (about a 15-20 minute taxi ride away). And on top of this, my hotel was going to change to be near this school! Oh, and teaching GOLF! Hello? I don’t play golf. And I’m here to teach English. (Insert Kiki-Freak-Out) Well, after listening to some old advice from Mama Fitz and taking deep breaths, I was able to use the inspiration from Mama Morrison and lean in:
“There is absolutely no way you can expect someone to travel around the world to a new country, and then move them without notice to a completely different end of the city, away from anyone else who speaks their language.” As she tried to justify this, I reminded her that this was not in my contract, and I was simply not going to comply.
Luckily, there are some really nice teachers in this program. One woman, Heather, actually took my hand and rubbed it, assuring me it would all be okay. Two more, from Concord Academy, Susan and Ben, offered to take turns going back and forth to the “Golf Camp.”
So, at the end of it all, myself and another teacher, Marc, were moved to teach in this other “camp,” but we are allowed to stay in our current hotel: GoGo Apartment. What a name.
Well, anyway, “class” today was crazy, to say the least. While the other teachers get to stay at the Wahaha Welearning Center, Marc and I have 8-10 students in each class… And our classrooms are on the third floor of an actual shopping mall… in the middle of Prosperity West Lake Tennis Camp…. (I know, what the hell am I talking about? I have don't even know…) None of the students speak any English, except for a few who have “My name is ______” down. So instead of teaching English like at any American school as I was prepared for, instead today we played “Kiki Says” in order to learn all of the body parts needed to sing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, we learned the ABCs, and sang Let It Go from Frozen while I played the ukulele… Nope, Frozen hasn’t died.
But, I am trying to stay optimistic. After all, I am getting paid to be in China! Might as well make the most of it and explore the city. My exploration has included new fruits… to be cautious of foods my stomach is not used to, I am eating a vegan diet while I am here. Today I went into a market and bought some bananas, oranges, and an expensive Asian Pear… When in Hangzhou…
I’m off to take a quick nap, before meeting a few other teachers for dinner somewhere so we can exchange stories of our unexpected classes... More tomorrow!