A Travellerspoint blog

Teaching Practice and Placement !

Chansha, Hunan

05.02.2012 -
Teaching Practice just started.

We are on our way to school. We are going to teach there for five days. We are divided into groups of four, teaching one class together. We walk into the class. Excited. There are 17 cute faces staring at us. The 18th student comes in just 5 minutes to late. He sits down at the back of the class, and opens his Chinese book. He starts reading, not caring about us or the others. He is naughty.
Another kid is over- excited. He jumps around in the classroom. He is naughty too.
And than there is this little, tiny girl. Her name is Sophy. She is just adorable. She is good in English, too. And than there is a very tall Coco, giraffe- head Tina - a shy, cute girl. And than there are plenty of others. Amy, clever Jay, quiet Jay, Chris, Angel, Mary ... They are all cute. All lively and adorable.

We start the lesson by introducing our selves. We pull out a map of the world, showing where we are from. The world map in China, places China in the centre of the map. I was about to call it a wrong map, but then I just realized that we do exactly the same in Europe. Our world map is centred around Europe only. Just a fun fact...
The lesson started. We had learned a lot about what to do, and what not to do during these three weeks of teaching training. But to put it into practice is something else. We were not totally sure of what we were doing, but somehow it worked out.
Tomorrow is going to be a new day.

06.02.2012 -
And ... today is the tomorrow of yesterday. Today it went very well. The lesson as a whole was good. We did different activities. The students participated a lot. They enjoyed.
But there are many things I need to improve. For me it feels a bit unatural to be in front of a class, and teach. But it is exciting. It is fun.
Today we had as main topic, "where do you live, and what do you like about it". We were talking about London, about adjectives and about different places in Beijing. About likes and dislikes.
Tomorrow we are going to do some craft activities, watching Tom and Jerry (a funny thing; I called it Ben and Jerry. It shouldn't be that easy to mix up ice cream and the most amazing cartoon, but well, I apperantly manage to do so), and talking about sports.

Only a few more days in Beijing and than we will be spread with all the winds. Many people back home wonder how you can go to a country not knowing where you are going to stay. It is like travelling to Europe and not knowing if you end up in Poland, Spain or Norway. It might sound strange, but I never really worried about my placement.
Today however, we finally got to know where we are going to be placed in China. Many people will go to the south. Some are going up north. Quite a few are staying in Beijing, and some are going to live in Central China. Together with a group of 6 people, I'm going to be placed in Changsha, Hunan. It is in the middle - south of the country. Changsha has about 7 million inhabitants. It has the greatest nightlife outside Shanghai and Beijing. The first wife of Mao was born here. The city has been rebuild, and is a good mixture of old and new. (It was already established a couple of years b.c.). The city has many skyscrapers, a huge river, many good shopping malls and spicy food! Sound pretty good!
In addition I'm going to teach primary school. The students can be anything between 6 and 11 years old.

Even though the placement seems to be great, I am rather sad to leave Beijing. I just realized that the parting part of this trip is about to start. We have to leave all the people behind, with whom we build great bonds with...
But that is life. An end is a new beginning. The exciting thing about it is, that you never know which part is the best part; the new beginning or the old end. Life suprises you every single moment of the day, and things always turn out differently than expected.

So ... throw away all your expectations, and go with the flow ...

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Posted by EmmaMM 00:19 Archived in China Comments (0)

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Photo Gallery

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More photo's are coming...

Posted by EmmaMM 23:34 Comments (0)

The Great Wall

A bit late, but nevertheless, here is an update about the Great Wall of China!

sunny 0 °C

"So this is the Great Wall. Firm and majestic. Wow, it is much more impressive than I thought it would be..."

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"I always believed that the Norwegian mountains belonged to the most beautiful mountains in the world. Well, apparently I was wrong. These mountains are enormous. Pure beauty! Look at the way the sun light up the top! This is amazing! Feel the air; it is so fresh! I can't believe my own eyes ... "

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"There are so many people here. It is like climbing an ant hill. So many people everywhere... And they are pushing as well. Just a bit. Hard time to pass by."

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"You know what? We are walking on stones, that are brought here by men. Yes, men only. No machines, no high tech, nothing. Just the bear hands of men. The power of human. We are actually walking on stones, that have been touched by emperiors, warriors, traders. That have been walked down by known and unknown people of the past!"

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"Luckily the crowd dissappears, the higher we climb. You know what chairman Moa said? He said "You are not a real man before you've climbed the Great Wall of China." So even we women are turning into real man. Thats pretty cool, isn't it?"

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"Look at this! The top! Feel the wind in your hair. The sun in your face. This is amazing! And look at the view. Look at how the landscape turns and twists... And how the great wall does the same within the landscape. It has been a part of the mountains in centuries, and still is. Close your eyes, just enjoy the moment. This is pure beauty.
THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA IS GREAT INDEED."

- After reading this entry, you might think "this is confusing". And I agree. But that is basically how my mind works. Chaotic and confusing. An organized chaos.

Posted by EmmaMM 21:10 Archived in China Comments (0)

The forbidden city is not forbidden anymore.

Every morning I am staring into the eyes of my own reflection. Every day they look different. Worse. Within the first days, tiny bags appeared around my eyes. Within a week these bags grew bigger and bigger. The next week they turned darker and darker. Every single morning I try to rub away the growing bags of tiredness, without succeeding. Every day I put on some make up. The blackness fades away. I look fine again. Make – up is magic.

The days in China are long indeed. They last from 7 o’clock in the morning until 1 or 2 o’clock in the night. A couple of hours sleep, and there we go again. We live literally on borrowed energy. Caffeine keeps us going. Caffeine makes us able to go to training practice, to see the city, to club and party, to talk and sing. We all love caffeine.

The 27th of January we went to a Japanese restaurant with a bunch of people. Our food was prepared just in front of our eyes. The cooks juggled with spades, spoons, knifes and fire. Fish, sushi, lamb and pork was served on our plates with a touch of magic. We enjoyed every single bite of it. Even more did we enjoy the local alcohol. It warmed your throat, and made us very, very happy... Our bad jokes became suddenly immensely funny, and at one point we were even able to speak Chinese, Nigerian and Hindi. It must have been the sauce - bindi on our forehead that enabled us speaking Chinese. Magic. Everything was just magic.

We went from one place to another without even knowing how, when or why.
We were walking, jogging, running, sprinting, jumping, dancing, turning, falling, stumbling, crawling, staggering, falling, dancing, falling, walking, falling. We were talking, laughing, talking, laughing, shifting languages, laughing, shouting, crying, laughing, talking, singing, singing, singing, talking, mumbling, jabbering, humming, coughing, laughing ... and having a total laughing kick. (wow, this is a whole bunch of verbs of basically one and the same thing..! My excuses for suddenly mixing in some grammar terms. Too much of school I suppose.).

And at the end we went home. There are some moments missing in my memory. There are some holes in everybody’s memory. We had a great time though. Oh yes, we had a great time!

The 27th of January became the 28th of January before we even knew it. The sun shone again before we even went off to sleep. A couple of hours later a warm shower was waiting. Very tempting. An assignment too.. far less tempting...

That day we went on a temple fair. Because of the lantern festival, the temples arrange fairs, and whole China gathers at the holy places, and burn incense sticks and money to honour their forefathers. They bring offers to Buddha and lit candles.

Later on we went to the silk market. It is a huge shopping mall, where you can bargain until you’ve got the price you are willing to pay for a pair of shoes or a shirt. It is great to roam around. It is a great place to spend your money. Your money however, disappears very quickly, and the amount of plastic bags in your hand turn magically from zero into ten. You most probably end up buying four pairs of shoes and ten dresses, and other stuff you really don’t need. But it is fun. Great fun.

The 29th we had a short day of school. We went to the forbidden city right after class. It was great. It was huge too. After entering one gate, another appeared. We had to walk through many doors, many gates and many windows. Courtyard after courtyard. One after the other. The houses were mostly red with curved roofs. Classic Chinese style. There were many paintings of dragons as well, and in front of each gate a lion stood guard. Some of them where made of gold, others of wood or stone. The higher we climbed, the more skyscrapers appeared at the horizon. Suddenly we were standing in the middle of history, surrounded by high- tech and modernity. Crazy.

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The forbidden city is far from forbidden. A little girl was peeing in the middle of a square, The courtyards were jam-packed with tourist, and we were watched... We ARE watched everywhere. Everywhere you go, there are cameras watching us. The government is watching us. Controlling us. And we don’t even care.

The forbidden city was however a magical place. The light was perfect. So was the temperature. The sun was shining that day. The smog had disappeared just for a moment. For many people it is just a “been there, done that – place”. I would however love to go back, not only once, but many times. It is perfect. The forbidden city proves that despite cruelty, dictatorship also can create beauty.

Posted by EmmaMM 03:51 Comments (0)

Laterns !

Chinese New Year.

semi-overcast -5 °C

The Chinese lantern festival has started. It is new year. We are walking down the street, holding hands. Firecrackers burst everywhere around us. Bam! Bam! The ground beneath us is shaking. We shiver. Our breath freezes in the air. Our nose turn red, hands become humps of ice. We are sharing one pair of gloves, we are sharing a pack of cookies, a role of mentos, a bottle of coke. We are sharing everything we have, while we are walking in between grey houses, small huts and streets which seems to be more like a maze. They are called hootongs here in China. Yes, I am talking about magical China, and I am talking about you and me. The streets in the hootongs are narrow, and to be honest I would not even call them streets, just a amazing labyrinth taking you from one end to the city to the other with all its twisted turns. Some of the houses in the hootongs are made up of woollen cloth, tin and plastic jerry cans. The construction however, is far more complicated than any architect ever would be able to make. They are magically held together. They survive storms, thunder, rain and sunshine. They survive basically everything, even though you think that the whole construction can collapse any time.

We meet people, locals to be more specific. They ask us over to see their hut. We are happy for this offer. We join them at the table. A little dog is jumping around on two legs. A little kid is standing on his head in the bed. He is 6 years old, with a round face, narrow black eyes and dimples. He is curious. So are the others. They ask us questions in Chinese. I can neither answer nor understand. My Chinese is not good. But I listen carefully. He is dealing with the conversation pretty well. We try politely to explain that we have to go. They offer us a coke. We take the coke. We walk out of the front door, which is not even a door, but just a blanket. They still manage to keep it cozy and warm inside. They do really good, living with 5 people in one room. But they have no choice. Really no choice.

We walk away from the hootongs. We come to a big street, and try to catch a taxi. A real taxi, not “the black ones”. Than you might end up paying triple the amount. But even triple the amount would have been just one courter of the price back in Norway. Ah, Norway... It seems so far, far away. I have difficulties understanding that it only has been one week since we left this northernmost country. We sacrificed our comfortable lives, comfortable houses, comfortable jobs or schools, for something unknown, exciting. For an adventure. We wanted the unknown. And we got the unknown. In all different ways. The road to the unknown winds down the hill. We are walking this way. We have no idea where it will end. But that doesn’t really matter. The unknown road makes us being able to live here and now. In this very moment. And on it goes, the magic road. We are together, still. My head resting on his shoulder. I feel save. Save in magical China. Day turns into night. Night stays night. It is a beautiful night in a beautiful place. Just near a lake. I am surrounded by great people. Friends. Every house is lighten up with red Chinese lanterns and Christmas lights. It is magical. We are going from one bar to another. Drinking, singing, dancing, talking, smoking. We wish each other happy new year at least three times before the pointer even shows 12 o’clock. And then, suddenly it is 00:00 am. And suddenly he is there again. Perfect timing. We are walking on the ice, while stars in all imaginable colours cover the dark sky. There are stars everywhere. Beautiful stars, thousands of them. I am in his arms, watching the stars. We are singing songs which we just know half the lyrics of. We have fun. I get suddenly lifted up in the air, singing. “Ich fliege hoch, so hoch bis mir die Luft wegbleibt”. Minutes passes by. Not noticing it. Maybe even hours. We are feeling cold. We walk into a bar, order a beer. The 4th beer, 5th maybe, 6th? I have no clue. It doesn’t really matter. Half of the beer is spilled out. It doesn’t really matter. We are talking for a while. Feeling good. enjoying each others company. All the problems are solved, for good I hope. For good. And then we decide to go back home. It is a good decision. We take a cab. A “black” cab this time, but we manage to pay a low price anyway. Good for us, bad for the driver. We walk into the dorm, still holding hands. We part, saying good night in a thousand languages. The night is short, and soon the sun once again will show its sunrays. Maybe even here in Beijing, if the pollution allows it to do so. A thick layer of smog covers the city most of the time, and make it hard to breath. The pollution rate in Beijing is 500 something ( I forgot the measurement). To be able to picture this better I can tell you that when the pollution rate in European countries reaches above 50 something, it is considered as dangerous, and the government is asked to do something about it as quick as possible. Just imagine!?! It is crazy. You are a passive smoker all the time. To spend one day in Beijing is the same as smoking 20 cigarettes. Yes, your lungs basically turn black in a couple of days. It doesn’t surprise me at all that lung problems and asthma are common illnesses here... A great sacrifice to live in a great city. I have not figured out yet if it is worth it.

All I know that it is defiantly worth it for now. It is worth suffering polluted air for being with great people from all corners of the world. It is worth being in Beijing to study how to teach, yes, becoming a teacher, not a student. It is worth breathing in the air so that you can spend time with each other, to go shopping at the silk market, to eat noodles from a plastic box, and talk until late at night. It is worth getting black lungs just to experience the city, seeing pictures of Mao placed at the Tiananmen square ( the temple of heaven). It is worth harking like an old lady, just to walk down the narrow streets, seeing small kids doing their jobby, and teenage boys driving around on a rickshaw. It is worth risking your life in order to experience life.

I have much more to tell. Much more to say. But for now “have a good day”. I will defiantly tell you more about my stay. About everything which is red and grey. Anyway, good bye. See you some day after May.

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Posted by EmmaMM 20:26 Archived in China Comments (0)

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