Miyun Week 1

Miyun Travel Blog

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Students on the playing field

Inga and I headed in to the school at 9am.  I spent the morning reviewing my lesson plan before going to take my first class at 2.30pm.

I would be accompanied to each class by one of the Chinese English teachers because apparently discipline has been known to be a problem at the school, which was just what I needed to hear.  Anyway, the first class went ok despite being pretty nervous.

The lesson was just an give me an opportunity to get to know the students and assess their level of English, and for the students to know a little bit about me and understand how my lessons would work.

There are 50 students in a class, so I knew from the start there would be no way I was gonna learn all their names, given I have 700 students to teach each week!

After doing 4 lessons back to back (45 minutes each), I was shattered, so I headed straight back to the apartment and had a celebratory beer.

The Grade 1 students line up for this morning exercise
  With the first day down, I had 6 more to go until the weekend! For some completely bizarre reason, in the Beijing region, the school year has to start on September 1st, whether it falls on a weekend or not.  As it fell on a Saturday this year, it meant the first week of term would last 7 days until the following Friday, and there would be 2 days off in lieu at some other time.  Does that make sense? Not to me it doesn’t...but hey T.I.C. - very little it would appear seems logical.

The following day I only had one lesson and then Inga and I left after lunch to head into Beijing on the bus.

Bus 980 took 2 hours to get into the city, so not the shortest of rides, but this is THE only option for getting into Beijing from Miyun, we’d have to get used to it.

Jogging military stylie around the teaching block
  Despite the long journey, we still managed to fit in a couple of hours shopping at Wanfujing before making our way back to the bus station to get the last bus back to Miyun.

Once on the bus, we then had a little trouble trying to communicate with the ticket lady.  She wanted to know exactly what stop we wanted in Miyun.  At first we thought it was to allow her to charge us the right money, but showing her the ticket from the previous journey didn’t seem to satisfy.  There was a lot of discussion with other passengers and eventually a young guy tried to translate but wasn’t too successful.  Anyhow, he continued to talk to us - I’m pretty sure he wanted to make the most of a free opportunity to practice his English.  He seemed quite sweet though and out of concern for our safety, wanted to make sure we got off the bus at the right stop.

Grade 1 class 12

One thing he said, which was kinda sad, was that he was envious of us being free to travel.  He said he’d always wanted to travel but in China you go to school, then you get a job, marry and have a baby - that’s it.  Clearly life isn’t like that for a lucky minority, but they really are the minority.

We did manage to miss our stop (we blame it on it being dark), but luckily the next one wasn’t too far away so we hoped off and walked back home.

Inga and I felt quite proud of ourselves that we’d managed to successfully make the trip into and back from Beijing - a journey we would become very familiar with.

Monday morning brought the delight of my first activity with the teachers.

Grade 1 class 5
  I’d prepared a few discussion points about Western festivals and holidays and tried to get them to talk about the differences between our celebrations and Chinese celebrations.  It was like pulling teeth - they really weren’t forthcoming with conversation, which made it very hard.

I had 3 classes in the afternoon which went well, but I was already getting bored of my introduction lesson plan.  I was only half way through so would have to do the same lesson 7 more times.

Despite only being in Miyun for a few days, I was starting to get quite bored there.  It was a real shock to the system to be in such a sleepy town with one other person after spending a month living it up with 100 others in Beijing.  I spoke to a couple of the other Beijingers to discuss potentially getting together at the weekend.

Grade 1 class 2
  It would appear I wasn’t the only one missing the fun of UIBE...

The following day was quite bizarre....The day started as normal...Inga was taken to the bank by Mr Guo to help her get some money changed, and I got to work on lesson plans in our office....Then around 11am I was called to Mr Guo’s office.  He proceeded to start asking me a number of questions about life in England - how many people in my family, was I married, did I have a boyfriend - which seemed a little odd, but I thought he was just interested in getting a bit of background info.  He then started to look a little uncomfortable, shifting around in his seat as he began to proposition me.  His exact words were ‘would I have an intimate relationship with’ him.  He said he also wanted to practice his English so it would be good if I could come to his office every now and then to help him.

The Weds Grade 1 evening class
  There’s a bed in his office so it was quite clear to me what kind of English practice he was referring too! As his monologue continued and I tried to stop my jaw from hitting the floor, I heard my phone beep and knew full well it was a message from Inga....

There are a few things that are shocking about this incident....Firstly, he’s a pretty fast mover - I'd only been in Miyun for 5 days - I’d hardly had the time to unpack, let alone consider giving some overweight, undersexed Chinaman private English tuition! Secondly, never once had I given him the slightest impression that I was interested!!  And lastly, I knew full well that he was infatuated with Inga, and had already tried and failed with her before coming to me as a last resort.  I’m not sure what offended me more....Mr Guo thinking he stood a chance, or me being second choice!!!!!

I can laugh about it now, but at the time it really unnerved me because not only was it completely unexpected and inappropriate, it made me feel really uncomfortable.  He was the one person we were supposed to be able to go to if we had any problems at the school.  Anyhow, Inga and I decided we would see how the land lay after a few days....If there were any further problems then we would have to get the company responsible for the EFL programme to move us to a different school.  Fortunately everything was fine - Mr Guo accepted the knock-back graciously which saved everyone a lot of hassle.

The highlight of the following day was my purchase of a pillow and a tacky Chinese dress to lounge in at the apartment.  Inga and I then had a fun evening chatting over a couple of beers.

The following day was pretty busy...I had 5 classes and a lot of preparation to do...

I started a new lesson plan in the afternoon which went well.  The students appear to like me - I spend most classes acting the monkey at the front, which amuses them.  It’s pretty exhausting though....It’s a bit like performing a rubbish show day after day with varying degrees of applause depending on how tired the audience is.

Inga and I were called to Mr Guo’s office.  It was the first time we had to face him since the propositioning!  He informed us we were required to attend a prize giving ceremony on the Sunday in honour of Teacher’s Day.  He told us that we would receive a certificate and if we liked, we could sing a song.  Singing to crowds of people is not something I do these days unless enebriated, but Inga and I agreed we would think about it.

That evening, over a couple of beers, we discussed song choices - mainly of the Disney variety.  Not sure we reached an agreement but had a laugh about it....

Finally it was Friday!  After finishing my final lesson of the week, Inga and I headed off to catch the bus into Beijing.

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Students on the playing field
Students on the playing field
The Grade 1 students line up for t…
The Grade 1 students line up for …
Jogging military stylie around the…
Jogging military stylie around th…
Grade 1 class 12
Grade 1 class 12
Grade 1 class 5
Grade 1 class 5
Grade 1 class 2
Grade 1 class 2
The Weds Grade 1 evening class
The Weds Grade 1 evening class
photo by: lizharvey79