Thursday, 14 May 2009

A Day in the Life

As insomnia has decided to become my companion yet again, my day started with me watching The Wire on dvd and pottering online until the 2am or so, and then lying in bed exhausted but still wide awake. When my alarm goes off I'm so tired that I hit the snooze button and unfortunately someone texts me in those 8 minutes which somehow disables my alarm. I woke up with half an hour to go before I had to be in class. Luckily I live next door to the school!

I made a cup of instant coffee for my breakfast (black, as you can’t get decent milk here) and attempt to eat one of those cups with biscuit sticks with a pot of chocolate spread. I was looking forward to chocolatey goodness, but it’s disgusting. I checked out the best before date: the 4th of April. Yummy. I don’t know why this surprised me, as the freshest bread in our supermarket is always a day out of date, and I once got food poisoning from eating an out of date yoghurt I bought from there.

On Fridays I teach my Senior 2 students, who are aged 16-20. I was doing a game with them called ‘Steal, Switch or Bust.’ It’s a spelling and sentence making game, and points are decided by drawing a card from a box. Right until the last go there’s the possibility of the winner changing, and it’s proved incredibly popular with my students with games getting very heated! I’ve even had kids volunteering to come up, which has never happened before. I think it’s the ever satisfying possibility of getting to completely screw one of the other team’s over that they find so enjoyable. Still, it’s very gratifying when I remember how timid they were at the start of the year, afraid to say anything in front of me, let alone the whole class.

My morning classes went well, and afterwards I walked to the gym, taking a shady detour through the market. People were eager to look over my shoulder and see what I was taking photos of! I’m hoping that the gym turns on some air conditioning or fans soon, as there only source of cool air otherwise are a few small windows on one wall, far from the workout machines. In 29° (roughly 90 f) weather, I feel like I’m simultaneously melting and suffocating with the heat coming off my body. But I managed to get my 8k done without turning into a gooey mass on the floor.
On the way to get pork and cucumber wonton for lunch I stop by my favourite hardware store to get a tea flask, which I’m going to attempt to use as a cafétière. (Long story!) As I’m paying, I keep hearing these little mewing sounds and realise that they’ve acquired a kitten. The little fellow is quite the crowd puller, as I practically had to elbow another customer out of the way in order to take the photo.
I did the same activity with my afternoon classes. I teach 12 classes the same thing every week, which means I have to try and choose something that I find vaguely interesting and/or entertaining, and that has scope for a little variety, as otherwise by Friday I’m so bored that I struggle not to zone out.

After class, I flaked out for a while, enjoying the Friday feeling, before going and getting some di san xian at a neighbourhood Sichuan restaurant. It’s one of my favourite Chinese dishes, a delicious mixture of potatoes, aubergines and green peppers in a tangy, sweetish sauce.
I spent the early evening writing, cleaning my apartment and getting ready to go out, before going to a downtown bbq with the other foreign teachers at my school. The food was delicious, and I probably ate more than I needed to. We were periodically accosted by some drunken Chinese men wanting to gambe (down in one) beer with us, which was ok at first but quickly got tiresome. Apart from that, it was wonderful to be sitting outside downtown again, just chilling out and chatting with a beer or two.

One of our friends turned up and told us about a new club that had opened up, and where, as is customary in the Shiz, exotic foreigners get free entry and drinks. That was more than enough to tempt us away from the bbq! Free vodka – there are some perks to living in the provinces! A great night was had by all...

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