Seven Days in Jinan

04:18 Paul Robinson 0 Comments

After having a late night with some friends, I came home to worried emails from my Mum and my Dad. They both hadn't heard from me in over 24 hours and wanted to know if I was okay. The truth is that I've been so busy getting to know new friends and exploring Jinan that I've barely had a moment to send emails home. So parents, here's an update about my first week in China.

I have been thrown in at the deep end with my teaching. I was expecting to observe a few classes this week, but when we arrived we were asked to prepare games to play with the students. Before my first lesson I couldn't stop my hands from shaking. I stood up in front of the children and began to play the game with nervous energy screaming through me. As soon the students settled down and began laughing at the big fool running round their classroom (that's me), I began to relax. Actually, I was more than relaxed, I was enjoying it. I've now done activities in classes for a few different levels and I'm really looking forward to getting started properly and getting to know my students.

On Sunday I spent the day in Quancheng Square promoting Aston to new students. This involved lots of games to get the kids interested. I was playing a mash-up of a three-legged-egg-and-spoon race. We were really overstaffed, so my sole responsibility was high-fiving the kids once they finished the race. After five whole hours, I can definitely say I've mastered the high-five. I had to pose for my first foreigner picture too, but it was a student so I didn't mind. I'm not used to being caller teacher yet though!

Of the four Aston schools in Jinan, I'm at the one furthest from the appartment building. I have heard people say the school was small and dirty and the area was poor. I was expecting to be in the Chinese equivalent of a council estate but I was surprised and relieved to find the area to be so vibrant. The streets are lined with trees and there are traders selling everything from street food and cosmetics to Mao posters and Bior handbags. The streets are full of young people milling around under flashing neon signs and there is a chaotic din of scooter engines and unfathomable Mandarin (to me anyway).

The Chinese Co-Teachers are all great. They really know what they are doing and I'm sure I am going to rely on them a lot in the first few months. I just hope they have lots of patience because they'll soon be sick of me asking questions like "Can you speak to the taxi driver for me? I'm lost" or "Are you sure you can eat that?"

Outside of work, I've been doing a lot of drinking and going out.  Partly because I can't stand my apartment but mainly because I've got a really nice group of mates here. In the seven days I've been here they have already been given two nicknames - Pony and Brad (long story) and my Chinese name (which roughly tanslates as Happy to Run). The kitchens in the apartment are a joke so we've eaten out loads. Aside from the usual Chinese stuff we've had quite a lot of street barbecue which I really like. My stomach has held up fine so on an adventurous whim I ate some fried insects. They weren't too bad, sort of like a crunchy bar-snack. Soon we'll be going for hotpot which I'm really looking forward too. I like a lot of chilli anyway, but spicey food is especially good for blowing all the pollution out of your sinuses.

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