Whilst Ive got internet access I’m going to try and write a quick blog.  Day two in the desert – literally, apparently I am five kms from the Mongolian border!  Jingbian is an emerging city, it’s very industrial as there is a lot of natural gas being “excavated” if that’s the right word.  So far I’ve ventured to the local shops, bought noodles, pea crisps and pepsi and through a process of hand gestures managed to buy shower gel, shampoo and essentials such as toilet paper. 

The apartment is okay, now I’ve worked out where everything is.  The water cooler does the hot water, there is literally two plates, a cup, a really scary massive gas cooker and a microwave – for all those noodles 😉  I was shown around the school yesterday by Mark, the Foreign Affairs Officer guy who is really lovely.  Teaching should be okay, I do 22 classes over two weeks, and there are two Chinese English teachers, James and Natasha who are unbelievably helpful – James is taking me this afternoon to buy a router which should mean the internet works better. 

I’ve met the two other teachers, one at my school and the other at No 3 School (I’m at No 1) and they are both nice as well, Tony and Max, from Ukraine and Czech Republic.  I also yesterday was taken to two different police stations to register for residency – or something, to be honest I’ve no idea what for.  First police station was fine, 2nd one I was like a zoo exhibit – being blonde, on the larger side and middle aged every single person I think came in to (a) look at me and (b) inspect my passport…….I just sat there, smiled and said ni hao!

I’m not so worried about the teaching to be honest.  I basically work from the textbooks that the Chinese teachers use, and plan my lessons around what they are taught each week – Book 1 is Friendship and it looks really interesting.  I’ve to do English Corner each week, where I sit and answer questions from the students, and there’s no need to plan for that apparently.  More worrying is the fact that the school is very sports-orientated……apparently I am expected to take part in sports (me!) so expect me to die of a heart attack whilst on a running track!  I politely declined and said I would do ping pong and thankfully plead the fact I am old and I think I got away with it.

The fact that I managed this morning to get the BBC radio on my netbook is life-saving, honestly.  It’s 11.23 here (0423 in Scotland) and BBC Radio 4 has been playing all morning – hearing an english speaking voice is so comforting. 

So upside so far:

1. no humidity – I was able to straighten my hair yesterday (so important!)

2. The FAOs are just so so helpful, any questions are answered and they text to make sure I’m ok.

3, Radio 🙂

4. The apartment is good, I’ve got a balcony, the washing machine is amazing, and clothes dry within a couple of hours.

5. At night I can sit outside and listen to the crickets and see stars – it reminds me of sitting outside my cottage in Scotland.

Downsides:

1. Dodgy internet – it’s soooooooo frustrating not being able to log in, not specifically to facebook, but just to get news or emails but I’ve worked out that it’s fine during the day, but at night when everyone comes back to the apartment block there is no access.

2. There is no where here that you can buy deodrant or coffee – it’s going to mean a 12 hour return bus journey once a month down to Xi’an to do a Walmart run – I can cope with that as Subway is opposite Walmart and Starbucks is along the road!

3. The cold here.  Apparently it gets down to MINUS TWENTY FIVE in the winter (who said the desert was warm!).  I have no warm clothes, a cardigan and my barbour jacket and a pair of boots is the sole amount of my winter supplies.  I’m told that I can buy warm clothes in Jingbian but the apartment is single glazed and where the pipes come in through the walls there are holes so wide you can see outside.  I wish I’d brought my panda jumper I bought from Asda now 😦 

But on the whole I’m extremely proud of how I’ve coped so far.  I’ve not panicked, rang Mark with silly questions, I’ve just got on with it and somehow fumbled through the last few days.  I don’t start teaching until Monday, I get my timetable over the weekend and I’m quite looking forward to the teaching aspect of the job and my monthly trips down to Xi’an.  Who knows when the next blog will be, but I’m doing absolutely fine, there’s no too many people in the world who can say that they’ve done what I’m doing, I’m not sure how this experience will translate back to a job in Scotland, but the memories will always be with me  🙂