Nothing much to report. Life is getting fairly routine.
I’ve started teaching my first classes, and so far they aren’t going very well at all, at least I don’t think so. I don’t believe it’s anything that I’m doing wrong, necessarily (although I recognize that I am still green, highly amateur, and lack any previous experience or expertise), but more-so on fault of the students. I know that sounds like a cop-out or something, but the classes that I’ve been given seem to be the ones that nobody wanted and could be unloaded on me, but nobody really wants to confirm that. I’ve only taught 2 days, though, so things could change for the better. The middle-schoolers literally don’t care whatsoever that I’m even there. You ask them questions, you try to speak to them, try to do anything and all you get is a sea of faces staring bored at you, and awkward silence. Some will be ignoring you and doing homework or classwork from other classes (some of the public school teachers here will actually tell their students to just ignore us and focus on other work) and others will be talking among themselves paying no attention. We have some video classes where we show them clips from some Western movies and therein we fish out vocabulary words. The few times you’ll get reactions from them are during these movies. But, for the most part, the class is treated like a study-hall.
As far as my M1 classes have been going, they aren’t terrible really, but I’m teaching very young children (age group between 6-11 depending on classes) with a very limited vocabulary, and I’m teaching them very basic English. Some will misbehave, but most of them will watch and listen to you. I found in my classes today that it seems as though they don’t understand most things I try telling them in English (it’s an immersion experience for them), and will just stare at you — but, then were are some that understand, and will willingly communicate with you and try to answer every question you ask them. And those students are awesome! They all universally enjoy playing games, though.
Last night I went out with a few other expats to a Chinese “club” (which mostly involved live performances from singers, a magic show, and a comedy routine before a DJ came out and played really generic EDM) and had a brilliant time with them. A woman named Holly from the UK, a woman named Neri from the Philippines, and a stereotypically very gay guy named Adrian from South Africa. We mostly just sat at a table drinking beer watching all of this… too loud to hold a legitimate conversation. I danced a bit with Holly once the music started to get going. I can’t dance for the life of me, but luckily neither can Chinese people, so I blended in quite well. Sometime after midnight Neri had returned home and Holly and Adrian were catching a cab back to Adrian’s flat. I opted to catch a cab to bar-street, got screwed by the taxi driver (but we’re talking like $1 USD… I let it go without a fight… all the taxi drivers outside of the club were overcharging anyway) and went into the bar Craig and I had gone before. I drank with the locals, sang some karaoke, and had a brilliant time. The sun was rising by the time I got home, and the taxi driver on the return trip also tried to screw me, but I called him on it and he immediately corrected himself. I went to bed drunk. Despite hydrating before bed and getting around 9 hours of sleep last night, I’ve felt rough all day. Not hungover, just out of sorts, and tired.
I’ve been taking lots of pictures recently. I’ve been really enjoying photography while here — there’s so much to see and capture. It’s like a playground. I just don’t like how everybody stares at you when taking pictures. You’re basically asking for attention by being a foreigner alone, and Chinese can spot you miles away. I don’t know how, or what it is, but I’ll see people in cars driving up from behind me who were already staring at me before they could see my face, and the same goes for pedestrians. Having a camera on you, and especially taking a picture, amplify this tenfold.
Very busy week ahead, but I have a couple days off over the weekend (some national holiday), and a bunch of the expats here in Fushun are planning to go into Shenyang for the weekend to get some western food, drink some western beer, meet other expats and see some gallery that mutual aquaintances are apart of. We’ll probably be getting a hotel, and the next day going to one of the famous flower-parks around here. Definitely bringing my camera! As for me, I’m going to drink some more water, and try cooking some noodles (that and rice are basically the staples here) that I picked up at the store when I walked home from M3 with Ray the other night (I got some lamb kebab from a street vendor that night, it was quite good!). Pictures below!
Friendly reminder: You can also follow my Tumblr (http://bnhoj.tumblr.com/), which is basically my more personal blog of sorts. I post/re-post/share all sorts of things there, but mostly quotes, writings and pictures — my own, and others. All of the pictures that I post here you can also find on my Tumblr, which probably provides a more enjoyable viewing experience. I also appreciate anyone sharing my website/Tumblr with others that may be interested. Always nice to have an audience. I really don’t know how many of my friends are keeping up with this blog or following/know of my Tumblr, so if they don’t, throw both at them! Haha. It’s basically become my central form of communication/social networking since Twitter, Facebook, and Google services are all blocked here. I also have Skype (username[s]: kinuskyp & also johnben.net) that I’m usually logged into when I’m home! Feel free to add me and we can conversate!
Side-notes: Chinese ovens are extremely dangerous. They don’t start from low to high, they do the opposite — and the ignitor doesn’t spark upon turning the oven on. So what this means it that as soon as you turn an oven on (I should say, at least my oven), a massive amount of gas is emitted at a very quick rate which must be lit quickly unless you’re trying to create a fireball in your kitchen.
I also bought an inexpensive Chinese buzzer and shaved my facial hair down. It was hard to let the beard go, but I look a lot better now. And the Chinese agree.
Update: Chinese ramen is pretty good. I approve. Each self-contained package with the noodles and ingredients costs about $0.50 USD, and it even includes a tiny plastic fork.