Sian - First Impressions
Over the past few days I have gotten to know the layout of Xiangtan a bit more. There are an abundance of street vendors to get food from although you take your life in your hands when you point at something that looks like chicken because in this neck of the woods it could be anything! There is a nice amount of western culture here for when I have my down days and wish I was at home and by western culture I mean there is a McDonalds, a KFC and a pizza hut. I might save pizza hut for my birthday meal because I’m very excited about it. How tragic! On Monday I had my first class, a second year business English class with about 45 students. 45 adults who would rather sit on their phones than get involved, just like uni back home I guess. However! The one big difference here is that I am the teacher now so THEY WILL PAY ATTENTION! Haha! when I walked into the room and saw nearly 50 faces staring up at me my bottle crashed almost immediately. I was glad that Monday was a particularly hot day so that my utter panic could be passed off as sweat from the heat. I was feeling like a bit of a horror on Monday with my frizzy hair and no make up until one of the girls in my class was nominated by her friends to come up to the podium and tell me that they all thought my hair was “very beautiful, like mermaid”. I thought that was really sweet and it cheered me up. Overall the first lesson went well once my panic subsided and at the end I had a couple of students offer to take me to lunch, show me around the countryside and meet their families. I was also asked for my number, my email, did I have a car, a boyfriend, how much money I made in the UK and what cars my mum and dad drove. At least I had their attention! All the students have English names that they have chosen for themselves, some are really funny. In my first class I had an Angelina (after Angelia Jolie), a Betty, a Cherry and a Fred. Fred is a girl. Hahaha. Steven, one of the other English teachers in Xiangtan with LHCEC has a girl in her class who’s name is Simple. Someone really needs to have a word with that poor girl! I’ve been out 3 nights this week already, including a Brazilian BBQ place where they come round the tables with big skewers of various cooked meats and carve some onto your plate. Oh and the beers are free. Yaldy. Yoyo bar has two bars, one is inside, it’s loud and busy and seems like a good place for a night out and then across the hall there is an open air roof top terrace bar with chilled out western music and a great view of Xiangtan. Last night the bars owner came over to our table and joined us for a beer. With Peter's help (an Aussie who also teaches at our school) we were able to communicate with him pretty well and he was showing us pictures of his 2 kids. I reciprocated by looking through my phrase book to find the mandarin for “younger sister” then showed him pictures of my sister. Was pretty chuffed with my advancing Chinese last night haha. Today I ventured out on my own to go to the big supermarket and get the last of the stuff needed for the flat. I managed to get a taxi and tell him where I needed him to go in mandarin, negotiate a price then get all my groceries (bear in mind everything is Chinese symbols) then get a taxi home. Good times!