I was planning to write something next week but I’m afraid I will forget everything that’s happened so far this week. It has been absolutely crazy, but in a good way. I’m insanely busy but much happier than before. I can’t believe I’ve only been back in Beijing a week.
Saturday: homework, all day, cleaned apartment, unpacked
Sunday: worked all day at recording studio
Monday: I had to go to the police station to register (foreigners have to register their address with the police within 24 hours of arrival, every time they enter the country. It’s a pain in the ah-neck). The woman who was filling out the paperwork fussed because I arrived Friday (too late to register) and didn’t register until Monday (in Chinese). I tried to explain they were closed. She told me again “24 hours”. I pulled out my phone calendar and pointed to Saturday and Sunday. “Kaifang?” (open?). “No, no, no!” she said. So they were not open Saturday but I should have registered within 24 hours. We hit an impasse, finally both shrugged our shoulders, and she let me go with what I think was a warning but it’s hard to tell. China (shaking my head as I write this).
Then I went to sign my new contract for my part time job. I’m teaching M-F afternoons 2-4 for a company that trains caregivers who want to work abroad. They’re affiliated with Robertson College in Canada and once they finish the program they help the women find jobs as live-in caretakers/nannies.
Tuesday: I spent the morning at the studio, then headed across (waaay across) town to my new job; 1 1/2 hour commute, ugh. It’s much closer to my apartment but the studio is not convenient to anything. My first day teaching went well, albeit a bit dull. Mostly I’m making powerpoints out of these books, then lecturing, then we do practice interview questions. But not like a mock interview. They have a book of interview questions and and answers and I read them one by one, then each student (about 8) read each answer individually so I can correct their pronunciation. I thought I could change things up a little to make it more interesting but Lee (my co-teacher) said “No, no, no, this is what they like!” And the girls all said it was helpful to them, thanking me for correcting them. Just an example of Chinese teaching methods, really, rote memorization. But most of the students are older and grew up being taught this way so it’s what they’re comfortable with. They are all really sweet though. The company has an office but the lessons are held in an apartment across the street. It’s set up like a small dorm. Some of the women live in Beijing but some came from far away so they live there for the training. The living room is set up like a classroom, then there’s a little kitchen and bedrooms to share.
After class, I went to meet LiLin. She’s one of the girls I met on the tutoring website but we decided I wouldn’t really be giving her lessons. We have a lot of the same interests so we’re just going to find events and things to do and I’ll help her with English and she can help me with Chinese. We had a lot of fun. She’s so funny when she gets stuck on a word.We had her iPad open on the table to translate when we got stuck. We got dinner near Yonghegong Lama Temple. I let LiLin do the ordering just to have a really traditional Chinese meal. It was…interesting. Cabbage and cucumber soup is really good, just a light broth, and I liked the leek and scrambled egg rolls. Not so sure about the beef tendons. First of all, yes, they are exactly what they sound like. Not tough and stringy like I thought though, more like soft and slimy actually. The flavor was good with the sauce they used but I just could not get over the texture. Same with the duck, I usually like duck and the mustard sauce was good but it was some very gristly part of a duck. I’m very much afraid it may have been feet so I decided not to ask questions and move on to the next dish, grilled mutton. It was spiced with cumin and actually really delicious.
After dinner we found a coffee shop to hang out in and she showed me her calligraphy and showed me how to do some characters. I’m trying to add a video as well but it’s incredibly slow to upload, I’ll try to add it later:
The top one is fu, the character for blessing, good luck, and happiness. You see it a lot for New Year’s decorations right now. I forgot the second one though.
Wednesday: Spent all morning doing homework, then headed to work, then straight to an interview for tutoring at a small school. It went well and they will have some hours open after the New Year holiday if I want them. I think I might end up with more work than I can handle though.
Thursday: Spent all morning doing homework again. I tried to stay up Wednesday night but was nodding off the whole time. I’m still fighting a bit of jet lag I think. I cannot sleep past 5:00am and I have so much energy I just get up and start working but then by the time I get home I’m just exhausted. I did make progress on my projects though. Then off to work again, then to yet another interview. I really loved this place though. I thought it was just a mom looking for a tutor for two kids (I don’t get much detail from the tutoring website) but it was actually a small school. Not really a training school though. They focus on character building and lots of fun activities, just with English as the language of instruction. They keep classes really small, 3-4 kids, and personalize everything. Everyone was super friendly and the interview went well. They just need some part time help for now so I’ll be working there in the mornings. It’s close to my afternoon job though, which will be really nice. They’re both in the northeast part of the city, where I hadn’t really been before this week. Beautiful area though. I’m really excited about getting to explore all these different places. And much less stressed about money. I feel like jobs have just been falling into my lap lately, and I’ve gotten to meet tons of interesting new people. The air has even been cooperating lately. Freezing cold, but clear blue skies. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next year!
Jess came over after work, which we were both super excited about. Normally this would not be out of the ordinary but I haven’t seen her since the day I got back to Beijing. That was a WHOLE WEEK ago. Also not out of the ordinary for most people, but considering we’ve been together practically 24/7 since the day we met a week feels like forever. I mean, we text every single day but we still had some serious catching up to do. So we ordered too much takeout, stayed up way too late, ate way too much sugar (one of the drawbacks of this new school is that our favorite German bakery is right on my route home…uh-oh), and just had a blast. Then I got to finally sleep in this morning for the first time all week so I’m super rested now; ready for next week!