The end is nigh

As the end is nigh, and I only have a handful of classes left, I have been wrapping up my lessons. In my culture course, for instance, I recently had the students discuss what they had learnt from the course and if anything had surprised them. Several things stood out.

Firstly, in one class a student said she didn’t realise that in other countries people didn’t drink hot water. Here, most people drink hot, as opposed to cold, water. I don’t like hot drinks in general, but particularly not hot water (which in restaurants is sometimes served in a glass, which makes it difficult to pick up and even just sip). By now, I am used to it and I was explaining to several students who are going to summer school in the UK this summer, that it is not that common to be given hot water to drink. Another student commented on the different between the education systems and young people in the UK and US, and here. At the end of the day, I wasn’t trying to describe which was better, but simply highlight differences and perhaps teaching them things they might not have known about. Next class is an exam revision class, though I’ll probably do this as a quiz. Then, the final class is their exam.

Meanwhile, with the first years, I have one more class of exam presentations and then I’m not sure for the last class. Someone mentioned a party, but I don’t know how viable that will be!

Recently, it was my birthday, and to celebrate, I went to watch the new Godzilla film – Godzilla: King of Monsters. That was quite good. I also went for a meal with a couple of my friends. I was teaching the morning of my birthday, but one class bought me a cake, and in the other, the group presenting their topic (about poetry) inserted a birthday slide into their presentation, which was pretty nice. Another student gave me a card, and wrote a nice message in it (including drawing a picture of Doctor Who – they are a Doctor Who fan). The meal was actually held the day after my birthday because my two mates were busy on my birthday. We went out for pizza, like last year, but to a different restaurant to last year (this time, it was Mr Pizza; last year it was Tube Station).

Randomly, in the restaurant, there were dolls of Peppa Pig and her family. It reminded me a little of the Moomin café in Japan (I went to one in Bangkok). If you go in there alone, the staff move one of the Moomin dolls to sit facing you, so you don’t feel lonely. This was not a Peppa Pig restaurant, and I am not sure why they were in there (also they were not at all the tables). On our table was, I believe, the character George, Peppa’s brother. My friends took some pictures of me and him, although you can’t see the leg that was slightly hanging off and the little hole in his stomach!

I have been learning Chinese for some time, and although I have not really written about it recently, I have continued to have classes. My two teachers are very patient with me, and even gave me a birthday gift each. My main teacher, who I’ve had for years, gave me a little Iron Man light and keyring. The other teacher gave me a little panda keyring and a booklet which basically looks like a passport and says lots of nice things inside it.

Yesterday I had a Chinese exam. Earlier in the year I was contemplating doing my HSK 3 exam before I leave (I did HSK 2 last year and found that pretty easy). HSK 3 is one step up, and doesn’t use any pinyin (Romanised words), only Chinese characters, which is not my strong point. Still, my teachers, and friends, all have higher opinions of my Chinese than I do! I struggle a lot with listening. My main teacher introduced me to a website where you can do practice tests. The test is divided into three parts – listening, reading, and writing. The listening is the longest, with 40 questions, followed by the reading, with 30, and the writing with 10. Each section is marked out of 100, with any score about 180 a pass. The first practice exam I did last Monday went well, I thought. The following two I did, didn’t go so well, and then another one I did was better. However, I realised afterwards that I was looking at the wrong page, and that actually I had done a lot better than I thought in all of the practices.

The exam yesterday was difficult, yeah, and I don’t know how I did. Some bits I knew what the answer was, but lots of it was difficult. We will see what happens. Results are out in a month. It’s now just a waiting game.

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