Beijing · China · teaching · TEFL · travel

Odds and Ends

I don’t have any major updates, just some everyday life stuff. Firstly, let’s talk about the government mandated heating. The heat in Beijing does not get turned on until November 15th. Individual homes and businesses can not turn on heat-in order to conserve resources, the heat gets turned on for the whole building at the same time-Nov. 15-Mar. 15 every year.  Unfortunately, while the Chinese government controls many (many, many, many) things around here, they do not yet control the weather. I’m sure they’re working on it, but until they do… Beijing temps have dropped like 20 degrees over this past week. Had to dig out my tiny space heater for the living room but my toes are still numb. On the plus side, the icy cold rain yesterday chased the smog away.

Next, teaching. I never in my life wanted to be a teacher; never thought I would. TEFL was just supposed to be a way for me to travel and make some money. But I love my job now. This is the first time I’ve gotten a classroom totally to myself with the same kids all day everyday and it’s amazing to see how much they change. It doesn’t seem like it day to day but when I look at where they started two months ago I’m amazed. Ryan wouldn’t/couldn’t say two words to me when class started but now sometimes he won’t stop talking. His grammar and vocabulary is still pretty limited but he uses his “caveman” speak and gestures to get his point across pretty well. And Zach and April started reading short books all by themselves. But QingQing, who’s the youngest-just turned 5 two weeks ago-surprised me most this afternoon-I was planning lessons after school and she came into the office and grabbed my pencils, decided they weren’t sharp enough, and sat down to sharpen them for me. Then she just started talking-mostly questions. What was I doing? Why didn’t I draw? I should draw a wainbowl (rainbow). Where did I live? Where was that? Was I married? Why not? What did I like to do? Then she decided to start teaching me the Chinese words for things. Sometimes I’m just blown away by the things these kids do and say!

We had a field trip to the National Zoo Museum on Wednesday, since we’ve been learning animals in science (plant/meat eaters, bird/mammal/reptile, etc). It’s basically three floors of stuffed animals from all over China. The kids thought it was cool, particularly the insect section. Half the third floor was a collection of butterflies-thousands of species from all over the world. It actually was fascinating. And of course, they had a thousand questions for me and Carol, their Chinese teacher. I love how they think teachers are completely omniscient. Since the exhibit cards were written in Chinese Carol could answer some, but not all, and I couldn’t read any information, so I was just falling back on my general knowledge. I need to buckle down and seriously study Chinese. I’m understanding more and more of what I hear but can’t read at all.

Ryan, Fred, and Zachary
Ryan, Fred, and Zachary-my little goofballs! These boys are crazy active-and they all loved the tigers.
Rarity and April
Rarity and April loved the peacocks.
QingQing and Zachary
QingQing and Zachary checking out the light-up map of all the continents.

I’m super excited to be going home in 56 days. (That’s right, I counted them out.) Two weeks at home with my family for our winter break, then two weeks back in Beijing teaching, then two weeks in Spain for our Chinese New Year holiday. Jess and I had planned on spending the New Years break in India but then found out we have different breaks; they overlap for a week or so, but when you add in flying time we just didn’t think it was enough time to do India justice. And neither of us wanted to go to India alone, mostly for safety reasons. So I’m going to Spain and she’s going to Jerusalem. I’ve been wanting to go to Spain for years and years and this is my first (of many, I hope) European trip, so I can’t wait. We’re talking about some joint blog posts to share stories and pictures from both of our trips.

Otherwise I have been staying busy with my new AI (Art Institute) class-this quarter, Animation. I’ve taken some animation classes before but this is much more advanced. I love the results when they turn out right, but the process is endlessly frustrating. I have a lot more respect for the folks at Pixar and Disney, that’s for sure. And this is all digital stuff-I can’t imaging hand drawing every scene. Anyway, if my final project turns out like I want it to I’ll post it here.

Lastly, my new obsession is bullet journaling. If you’re at all crafty or just obsessively organized-or a little of both like me-you should definitely Google it or look at Pinterest. I think I may be a little addicted-I’m currently working on three different notebooks-one for current plans, one for future plans, and one for lesson plans. I actually have a list of all the lists I need to make. I might have a problem.

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