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Archive for the ‘OVERSEAS ADVENTURES’ Category

LIFE IN CHINA THROUGH THE EYES OF MICHELLE

TEACHING ENGLISH IN A CHINESE UNIVERSITY IS A BUZZ SAYS MICHELLE

Well where to start, I’ve thought about doing something via the internet about my travels for years, and so I thought why not, if nothing else it would be a bit of fun. I’ll start by writing a few articles on my journeys and experiences that befell me.
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Not so long ago I decided that a trip to China would be a life experience that I wasn’t going to miss and when I take a trip I mean actually live in the said country for an extended period of time. To me that is the only way to really experience the place, people and lifestyles. Rather than spent a fortune on living expenses I decided to find myself a job. Having a fairly decent education, I decided to gain employment as a University Lecturer, teaching and lecturing in English and Business. It was only a matter of hours and I had a few good offers come my way. I had my own criteria that needed to be addressed, No 1 I was only interested in going to a nice warm area, No2, not too crowded, away from the big cities ,but yet close to all the modern facilities one would expect.

Fantasy Lingerie
Well, I was promised the above with the added bonus of a fully furnished modern western style apartment, some Chinese language lessons, 20 hr week, anything else was overtime and I would be paid handsomely for my efforts .Plus return airfares after servicing my full contract, plus plenty of holidays, well that was WOW just what I wanted. The added bonus being with all the weeks I had off between semesters I could do some serious travel through Asia. As the agency took care of all the visas etc. It wasn’t long and I was off, leaving my home in the care of house-sitters as I had pets and didn’t want to go down the rental track, but that’s an entirely different story.

After the arduous task of departing Brisbane (Australia) Airport, I was off to China. First stop Singapore, Only had an hour and a half to kill between flights so I was confined to the Airport and all its’ offerings. I made a point of noting that when it was time to book my return flights to make sure I had at least 5 hours up my sleeve in Singapore as they offer a free tour, via bus , of Singapore plus a very nice chilli crab lunch, so a great deal if only to show you what’s around and on offer  for maybe your next visit.
Fantasy Lingerie

After arriving in Shanghai, it was quickly pick up your bags, zip through customs, and that’s the part I don’t remember, just a flash of the passport and straight out to find a cab, firstly remembering to grab some Chinese money else I wouldn’t be going anywhere without it, then off to another Airport on the other side of town to catch a domestic flight to Changsha(Hunan). Being the only female Westerner on the plane it was rather curious to be met at the airport by a couple of Chinese ladies holding up a big cardboard plague with my name on it. After the meet and greet it was a matter of getting all my luggage, and believe me it wasn’t that much considering I would be away for a year, into a car that wasn’t much bigger than a shopping trolley. It was a 0.8 litre (Chery)2 door boot car, I really hadn’t thought about seeing a car quite that small, but we managed. Me in the front passenger’s seat, which back home was the driver’s seat, feeling very venerable as I had no steering wheel, nothing to hold onto or control. After take- off it became very evident the style of driving in China was VERY different from anything I had experienced before. I asked how long my driver had had her licence because she had informed me she was a very good driver asking me for my thoughts on the matter in broken English, the answer being two weeks, at that point my only thought was ‘ I’m going to die today’, I couldn’t wait til that journey was over, travelling at 100km an hour for more than an hour zipping in and out of traffic spending more than half the journey on the wrong side of the road. Upon arrival I was in a provincial town called YiYang, 1.5 million population but in China considered the “countryside”.

Well after my miraculous arrival, it wasn’t long before I was delivered to my new temporary accommodation, it was never very clear how long I would be here, I started to get the feeling I was a work in progress. It was getting late into the afternoon and I was dead tired, I just wanted to get settled in and sleep. That was not to be. The next thing you know I am being informed, in broken English, to ready myself for a welcome to China dinner where I would be introduced to the Head of the University English Department plus another few select staff members who had been invited for various reasons.

Ah well, in my tired state it was probably for the best as the pantry was bare and shopping was something I’d sooner face after a night’s sleep.
Costume Warehouse

I consider myself to be a fast learner but the plumbing in my apartment required a very determined set of skills in order just to produce enough hot water for a shower, we made it, just as well it was summer, wouldn’t have been able to handle the hot cold hot cold treatment  had it been the middle of winter. I was collected promptly at 7pm and escorted via a series of one lane walking tracks to a restaurant approximately one kilometre away.

After being ushered into a private dining room and being introduced to everyone we were seated around a large circular table complete with a glass top over timber. I was introduced to a fellow Australian who had spent the last teaching year at the University so things couldn’t be that bad, right? He came back.

Dinner proceeded in a bit of a blur for me; I don’t remember eating much more than just steamed rice thank goodness they had forks. I am really not that game to try things without knowing what they are, have learnt from my adventurous mistakes before but at least this time there wasn’t any chicken heads floating in the soup, that is the heads you discover after already eating a serve.

After being escorted back to my apartment, I set about making up the bed, It looked comfortable enough but looks can be deceiving, jumping in I was in ‘shock’, I might as well have decided to sleep on the floor, it was like concrete. I slept on top of the bedding hoping this would cushion the experience as tomorrow was a new day and all I wanted was sleep.

 

My life in China was very eventful and a journey I will never forget. After quite a few weeks I considered myself pretty well settled in. I had shifted apartments twice and was finally on campus in an apartment on the 4th floor. I was rapidly becoming fitter with the amount of up and down stairs all day, but that was a good thing as I probably need to lose a few kilos anyway. By the way unless there are more than seven floors you are very unlikely to see an elevator, this was true for the area of China I had landed myself in, could be slightly different in the big cities. I was the only Western female amongst 1.5 million locals. I had become spectator sport, everywhere I went I was a curiosity item. It felt like the eyes of the world were upon me.  Nobody but nobody spoke English so I was left at the mercy of my students, who loved to volunteer their help just to be able to practice their English on me. I had hoped to be able to learn Chinese while I was here but with so many clamouring for my undivided attention just to practice English I gave up. With so many different dialects it was a sheer impossibility to learn anything but a few short lines that would get me by. My advice if you want to learn Chinese, learn from another English speaker who has mastered the language. There was actually one Canadian guy on CCTV9 that my students were in awe of, he spoke perfect Mandarin, even better than a native, so he was the one to learn from.

Fantasy Lingerie

What I expected my life in China to be, probably fuelled by the original information and photos I had been fed, was a far cry from the way it really was. My apartment was not luxurious, in fact not even similar to the pictures I received. My bathroom was 1 metre square with a hole smack dab in the middle of the floor, this was the toilet, a squat, so when you were having a shower you had to be very careful as to where you placed your feet otherwise risk some horrific accident I don’t even want to think about. The only room with hot water was the bathroom, with a small hot water system located at head height affixed to the wall, it took a while to work out how to actually get hot water out of it but eventually I was successful. Moving onto the living room, which housed the washing machine, refrigerator and table and chairs: you are now wondering why on earth the washing machine is in the living room, answer: because the nearest tap is in the bathroom so when doing the washing you can run your pump out water back down the hole in the floor, your toilet. I really can’t complain because the system worked quite efficiently.

Fantasy Footwear

Right next to the washing machine sat the fridge, also in a prime location as the kitchen was too small to allow for a fridge and it wasn’t a big fridge either.

Basically the apartment wasn’t big enough to swing a cat in but it had two bedrooms with a small balcony and I often enjoyed a quiet afternoon when it was’t raining or snowing, reading a book that I happened to score from the campus library as long as I didn’t look down I was fine, the view was a completely different story.
Fantasy Lingerie

Story published by Michelle 

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