Miyun Week 7

Miyun Travel Blog

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I was feeling pretty low this week.  The monotony of the teaching was starting to get to me, mainly because I had a real lack of any sense of achievement.  The problem was  there were no obvious signs of progress with the students.  Managing a class of 50 teenagers is pretty tough for anyone I guess.  They really just want to be entertained for 45 minutes by their strange foreign teacher, and a lot of them are not interested in learning anything which makes it hard to motivate them.  It’s much easier to work with smaller classes because it allows for more interaction and games, which make the lessons more fun.  Coming up with games for classes of 50 with little room to move and a lack of willing to work in teams can be pretty challenging.

I was also starting to feel quite homesick for the first time.  It probably wasn’t helped by the fact that it was now getting extremely cold and we had no heating in the apartment.  Central heating is government controlled and therefore gets switched on for everyone at the same time on November 15th, regardless of the temperature outside.  It was making Inga and me really miserable.  I was just really glad I was lucky enough to have a trip back to the UK in less than 2 weeks to look forward to.

Wendy invited me over to her place to have dinner on Tuesday evening, which perked me up a bit.  We left after school together and first picked up Sella before enjoying a delicious hot pot.  She stuffed me to the point of explosion – I actually had to tell her to stop cooking because I was in pain!

We had an interesting conversation though.  It made me quite sad in some respects because she basically said she felt there was a whole world out there that she was not able to see.  She said she was jealous of the freedom I had to experience new things.

She was also very curious about the differences between the west and east.  It seemed evident to me that she felt a lack of knowledge about other cultures beyond China and that she had a sense of living in a bubble.

The Chinese way of life is quite different to ours in some ways.  They work particular hard long hours and have very little free time with their families.  In fact, home life doesn’t seem to be regarded as a priority and it would appear quite common for husbands and wives to live apart during the week if the location of work dictates it, making it all the harder for working mothers. There appears to be less choice in terms of life decisions. It’s very uncommon for people to take career breaks or gap years.  People are expected to get to work as soon as they can, then marry and settle down.  They generally only have 1 day off work a week making it difficult to do anything at the weekend apart from the usual domestic chores.

Even for a middle class family travel is extremely expensive, peaking at holiday times, and so many don’t venture far from their home towns. A lot of families still don’t own cars, although the numbers are increasing considerably, which is having a considerable effect on the environment.

I’m sure a lot of this will change over time as affluence increases, but for the time being, there is still some feeling of repression and frustration – albeit with the one Chinese person I know.

My mood improved over the course of the week mainly due to the fact I was off to Shanghai at the weekend.

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photo by: lizharvey79