Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Back to School!

So we were all still a bit jet lagged at this point but it was all go from the first Monday and we started the TEFL lectures (but of course not before an initial opening ceremony at 8:15am). All three of our TEFL teachers were American and had been living and teaching in China for years so it was great to get some first-hand information and experiences about what it would be like to teach Chinese students. All our teachers were very different but all very nice and they definitely knew their stuff! It was also great to hear some of the funny stories, from students rocking up to class with swords in hand, to finding out about phrases that are commonly used in China by the students. (To explain: The students had swords in English class as their following lesson was ‘sword tai chi’ and apparently a commonly used phrase in China is “Oh my Lady GaGa”…so far I have not heard this being used but when I do it will definitely have a place in my Facebook status!) So all in all it was a good first week but very tiring with 6 hours of lectures every day and the TEFL exam at the end of the week.
The day of our TEFL test was a long one and we had lectures all morning and a talk beforehand by Gerald from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I quite liked him but the talk was a little ill-timed on the Friday afternoon before our test. Information he chose to pass on included…”please do not bring any strong poison or heroin into the country”, “no preaching about religion or you may be forced out” (of the country) and we should make sure we have been given days off in December as he would like us to have a merry Christmas.

After the TEFL test we decided that we would treat ourselves and a group of us went to indulge in Pizza Hut which, I must say, is either on a par with home / even better because they do Oreo milkshakes! I had been craving lasagne all week so it was a welcome treat! Chinese food is lovely but for the first week it was a bit of a shock to the system so it was great to have a taste of home! So, stuffed with more carbs than we could really manage, we headed back to the hotel for a few beers on the stalls outside then out into Beijing to meet the other ELAs who had gone out a bit earlier. We thought it would be easy to find a massive group of Westerners but not so in San Le Tun (one of the big bar streets in Beijing). It is where all the westerners go so it was a bit like home and not a case of spotting some blonde hair in amongst the crowd. However we did bump into some of the others and had a great night! And we did not get ripped off in the taxi on the way home which is always a bonus!

So after about 4 hours sleep it was time to climb the Great Wall on Saturday! Sensibly I had said I wouldn’t drink on the Fri night as I knew the Great Wall would be a little tough to climb as I had done the same thing when I was at summer school in China a few years ago! I never thought I would actually stick to it but I did and the next day I was just a little sleepy. Jake and most of the other ELAs on the other hand were most likely sweating alcohol as they climbed the umpteen steps and near to 90 degree slopes in 33 degree heat…still was a fab morning and the views of the wall were incredible! Apparently there is a Great Wall Marathon which it would be epic to do, although I can imagine it being even harder than a normal one with all those steps to climb! Better start training!

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