Well our plan of blogging daily got a bit messed up yesterday. I’m sure mothers were already starting to panic, and embassies were no doubt being dialled, but i can assure you all is well.
First day in the office started with lunch with the senior teachers of our branch, a couple of Irish lads who reinforce the almost-too-friendly stereotype. Fortunately they chose the food in a restaurant outside our office, oddly nicknamed “The Red Place”because it has a blue sign outside. This was the first of many company haunts we were to encounter, and is basically the go-to place for lunch. Decent food, though the menu was distinctly sane, so no contenders for our menu hall of fame here.
After a quick chat over lunch, we got a tour of the school; 12 classrooms, a library, a sales desk and two staff rooms for teaching assistants and teachers. We got our own desks, and an assortment of stationary. (At this point it sank in that we were going to be real teachers).
The rest of the day was spent trying to fight off some major jet lag and reading some pretty entertaining company handbooks, (our notes consisted of a picture of cat sushi and a post-it saying “don’t eat the kids”). We each got to sit in on one lesson at the end of the day, which was a real learning curve. Watching the experienced teachers at work was both impressive and slightly unnerving, thinking we’d be doing that solo in a weeks time, but the kids are awesome, and have a real passion to get involved in the language.
Here is where our tale takes a darker turn….
After the last class finished at 9 we headed to the other local favourite, a watering hole by the name of “world beer,” for a “quiet one or two” to get to know our fellow teachers.
As it inevitably does, a quiet one or two swiftly turned into a loud four or five, and ended at 3.30am in a raucous nine or ten. Tales were told and songs sung, and we got to know some of our colleagues all too well, but a good time was had by all. The drink of choice is an “Imported” German beer (of local origin) called Glenk, which has given rise to the in-house vernacular of “glenking” (to drink Glenk in unseemly quantities).
The problem with being the only group of westerners in a city of seven million people is that everyone wants to be your friend, so we obviously attracted some attention. One thing that needs to be mentioned here is that all Chinese people are given western names when they meet us, so one lucky chap last night was quickly christened Glen King after sitting and drinking with us for a few hours.
The numbers slowly dwindled until only us and the Irish contingent remained, their numbers bolstered by a local restaurant owner and legendary lad. After a last one with them we stumbled/danced our way home, passed out, and slept through till half one the following day, woke in a rush, and ran to the office for a 2pm start.
Today passed in a flash of hangover, but was mostly spent observing and taking part in lessons, eating authentic chicken fried rice, and trying to order coffee.
No pub tonight (thank god), so a healthy dinner of cucumber flavoured Pringles and early to bed (midnight), but tomorrow morning we go to the local hospital for a full medical, which could be an experience.