First Day at School!

Jimo Travel Blog

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The kids that live near enough head home for lunch...

There's no doubt we'll all remember our first day at school - four/ five years old, terrified about leaving the happy nursery school/ mum and dad, etc. But this was a first day at school that was totally different.

First day as a teacher would be nerve wracking enough, but first day teaching in a Chinese school's another matter entirely.

Our school is the No28 Middle School, or Ershibahzhong.

We were all geared up to face the troops, but it turned out that those of us who were teaching Grades 2 & 3 (intermediate and advanced English, 13 - 16 years old) wouldn't actually be taking classes until a week later, but we would still be getting paid for the redundant week. Fine me thinks!

So our first day was spent getting used to the huge classrooms, which had no aircon, while pupils sat aptitude tests and did interviews with us so we could see what their spoken English was like.

Everyone comes to school by bike: this is only one of five bike parks!
We also had to get used to the disgusting squat toilets for staff, and the worse version the kids had to use, just a big trench with low walls between stalls that didn't have running water. The school janitor unrolled the fire hose every lunch time to sluice out what had been produced in the morning, and the same thing happened at the end of the school day. Problem was the smell got almost unbearable in the run up to lunch time as the temperature soared, and in the afternoon there were always lots of flies buzzing around. After a while I suppose we got used to it but it was definitely less than pleasant.

Then it was lunchtime. Staff and pupils ate in the same dining room, a separate block to the four classroom buildings and the admin offices. Meals were served on a metal cut out tray, with chopsticks, a starchy bread roll and your carbonated drink of choice...Sprite or generic fanta! I will admit most of the lunches weren't bad, but when you're get a whole fish slapped on your tray, head, eyes, skin and all, and only a pair of chopsticks with which to dissect it, a quick bike ride out of school for a lunchtime beer seems a much better idea!

Anyway, the rest of the day was spent testing the kids, and finding our feet, and trying to figure out what we'd do for the week in Jimo, which isn't the most exciting of towns.

Our staff room at Ershibahzhong (Middle School No 28)

We were a tad shocked to learn we'd to be in school for 7.30am, start lessons at 8am, break mid morning, lunch at 12.30pm, afternoon classes start 2pm, break mid afternoon then end at 4pm.

The kids are actually in school longer than that, some start lessons at 7am, and some also stay behind for extra classes in the afternoon.

The classes we teach are part of a summer camp, so they're optional in that the parents have to choose to send the kids, but there's such pressure on the Chinese kids to do well, especially the ones who are only children. You ask thirteen and fourteen year olds what they do in the evening...homework. What do you do at the weekend? Girls, always homework: Boys, homework and basketball. It's all a bit crazy really...

We were also kind of shocked at how tired we all were, even though we'd not actually been teaching. Think it's the heat that really hits you.

And so home to the family, to dinner and more awkward questions along the lines of why am I not married yet, would I like them to find me a nice Chinese boy to marry and could I stay with them longer than I'm supposed to!!

After we'd eaten, 'Mum' took He-He and me to Mohe Park in the town...I was stared at by all, a couple of girls asked to take my picture on their phones and I had to run about and chase demon child.

My Chinese 'Family' - Mum (Mao Aiqin), Granny (Sui LiLi) & Lil' Brother (Zhang Junhao/ He-He).
Joy...this was when I realised I was lucky to be an only child! Mum bought us all a can of pasteurised mango juice (I acutally got use to it somehow) and He-He picked a fibre optic torch to give me as a welcome to the family present. Needless to say he swiped it and trashed it a couple of days later but the sentiment was nice!


AndiPerullo says:
Congrats on surviving your 1st day and He-he. :)
Posted on: Oct 19, 2007
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