I have returned back to Beijing, ready for the new semester to begin next week. There is always a little apprehension about leaving the UK, partly because I become comfortable in a routine, and partly because I am not sure what the next year will bring. It did not help, the fact that my flights back were tiring, though uneventful (I had a transfer in Amsterdam).
I lost my bank card just before I left Beijing in June, so the first thing I did on returning was go to the bank and eventually I was able to collect my new card. Banking in China usually requires a lot of paperwork, though this time it was comparatively light. It did take about half an hour, however, just to wait and then get the card. I still had a load of stuff in my room from two previous teachers – one came on Thursday to collect his stuff (he left most of the stuff with me). The other is coming on Sunday. It will be nice to have only my clutter about! I also now have a water fountain, sans water (when the teacher comes on Sunday to collect their stuff, they said they would help me order a bottle). These are 18-litre bottles, and should mean I do not have to go to the shop as often to buy smaller bottles.
For lunch, I figured I would go and check out the new canteen on campus – only a small part of it was being used as the rest was being built, but now construction has finished. However, I found out my card has expired, and one of my former students, who has moved to this campus, kindly paid for my meal (it was eight yuan, so it was not too expensive, haha, and I reimbursed her later). It was a little embarrassing, and very much reflected my mixed day. Later in the after, I took the subway to a nearby Western shop. I bought a number of things including some cheap sun cream. On entering the subway, however, this was confiscated, ostensibly because it was an aerosol. I am not sure how true this is, because I think I have had aerosols in my bag before – certainly deodorant was in my suitcase going home and that was never an issue. When I have bought it before, too, I am pretty sure I have taken it on the subway. Maybe the security guard really wanted some sun cream, or maybe it was genuinely banned, I do not know!
This semester, I am teaching first and second year English major students. The first-year students, I will do what I did with my classes last year (minus the textbook stuff). For the second-year classes however, I am supposed to do something which I was told as a outline of US and UK, but which, after some digging, turned out to be basically (I think) US and UK culture. I am starting with US culture this semester, and I have made a list of what I will cover. My ex-colleague did get the first-year major students to do presentations last year, some of which were on topics that overlap, or may cover things I want to do. I will have to negotiate how much overlap there is. He seemed to think that they would not bother, but I am not so sure. We will see…
Lancashire was a very cool 11 or 12oc when I left. Landing in Beijing, the temperature was 32oc. Back to the furnace I guess, though the temperature will hopefully start to fall soon. The air, however, was quite good on arriving back. I had ordered a couple of items online before I returned and surprisingly they arrived on Wednesday, soon after I had returned. One was a box of cereal, which is always handy. The other was a new air purifier. This is from Xiaomi – a mobile phone and technology company. I already have one but I thought I would get a second, so I can put one in each room. I can also sync them up to an app, meaning that when I am out, I can turn them on remotely so the air will be better when I return. It took me a while to sync the new one up, but after much frustration I did it!
All in all, the first day back was a mixed bag – got my new bank card, and my new purifier, but equally had my canteen card rejected and lost the sun cream. Still, my room looks better with the other teacher’s stuff having now been removed. After Sunday, it will be even better.
The second-year students begin class next week; the first years start the following week (week 2), then have two weeks off doing military training, and then (I think) another week for national week holiday. I was also asked if I was interested in doing some classes for the business students, but I did not respond quick enough (due to travelling and so on), and those classes went to another teacher.