Visa has now been received and flight is booked. I am flying out on Sunday, 20th September at 22:40, arriving in Beijing the following afternoon at 16:00. It’s a 10 hour flight. The slightly annoying thing is that I can only take one case in checked in luggage, and obviously one in hand luggage, so had to repack everything, but my mum helped me, we found a bigger suitcase and everything should be okay. To be honest, I don’t know how much stuff I will need. I am taking some books with me, on learning Chinese, but not loads and loads. Anything I need later I’ll get mum and dad to send. I was going to bring my teaching book I bought for CELTA, but I’ll probably leave that, as I will the Practical English Usage book I got by Michael Swan. Most stuff you can find online now.
I have notified the school of the time I’m arriving, so fingers crossed there should be someone there to meet me. Other teachers seem to be arriving on Wednesday and Thursday, so depending on what happens on Tuesday, I might go out, get some food, maybe try and find Renmin University of China (which the school is affiliated to) as this is only across the road, apparently, and is a good place, I’ve been told, to buy a mobile phone. And then try and set up wi-fi on my laptop. Hopefully everything like this will go okay. I’ve still got a bit more lesson planning to do, but I’m reasonably happy with what I’ve done thus far.
I will probably have forgotten something – that is usually the case – but we’ll just have to see what happens. I should be able to pick most stuff up at the shops, I think. I also want to get out and explore Beijing a bit more – not only go to usual tourist spots of the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City – but also the historic areas of Beijing (called hutongs, I think), and maybe go to the Summer Palace, Old Summer Palace – both in the Haidian district, which is where my school is – and further afield. But that might be for later. I have a week’s holiday 1-7 October, so I might get to do a bit of that stuff then, though most touristy places will probably be very busy. I will also have to continue doing lesson planning.
I’ve done half a dozen or so for the Junior classes, and I’m reasonably okay on those. The Senior and EDP class however, is harder as that is about Pronunciation, and the information I have is not that good, plus the previous teacher’s powerpoints aren’t brilliant and it’s all a bit vague. However, when the rest of the teachers arrive (and apparently, one is still waiting for documents and reckons it will be after the week’s holiday before he turns up) then we can do some better lesson planning.
I am feeling a little better about teaching now, going over some of my CELTA stuff – which was in a big pile, and I had to wade through different levels from different classes, a bit like different layers of the earth in archaeology – was helpful and gave me some ideas for classes and teaching approaches too.
Finally, it’s always nice to receive a compliment. Someone said my Chinese was very good yesterday, in an email. I am trying to use it more, and hopefully this trip will help me with that further. Perhaps a teacher at the school will want to improve their English and we could do language exchange. I already signed up for a group of ex-pats who meet in Beijing and only speak in Chinese so that might be interesting, if a little scary! I’m also not sure how much other foreign teachers know of the language. One said she could say ‘Hello, my name is _’ and that was about it. So it will be interesting to see whether mine, or other teachers’, language skills improve, by the end of the school term in June.