Whilst I have internet access I thought it time for another blog update – and I’m waiting for someone to come with my teaching schedule for the coming semester.

The other English teacher is Ukrainian but has a Chinese girlfriend, and she is so lovely – she comes in every lunchtime to see if I am okay – and she also gave me the all important internet update.  Apparently it goes off any time between 6-8pm each night due to too many users, and – goodness knows who – are working on it.  SO I’m figuring that I need to re-adjust my schedule here and get up around 5am each morning to be able to get internet access – not only for the all important facebook and news, but also to be able to prepare lesson plans.  That’s not actually too much of an issue as breakfast in the school starts at 6am. 

On that topic, the schedule of Chinese students is punishing.  Classes start at 6.30am and finish around 5.30.  I can’t really work out why but some students then have classes until 9.30 at night!  My apartment is right opposite the school, and to signal the end of a class or the beginning of a new one, there is a song played over the tannoy for about 30 seconds.  It’s not annoying in the slightest, it’s almost fun trying to work out what on earth the song is!

Max, the English teacher from No 3 school (I’m at No 1) took me out for a tour and dinner last night, and he said the schedule is unbelievable – some students will fall asleep during our English lesson because it’s not important to them – we don’t set homework and our class is basically seen as a break for the students, English Corner is for those students who voluntarily want to learn more English. 

On the subject of the tour of Jingbian – the place is enormous, literally on a par with somewhere like Aberdeen.  However no tourists ever come here and it’s very industrial as there is a lot of excavation of natural gas and coal – as well as a lot of wealthy people, there are more Discoveries and Land Rovers than I’ve ever seen before (all covered in sand from the desert!).  I can imagine however this place becoming more westernised over the next few years as foreign investment comes in.

So, there was me complaining about having to do a Xi’an run for supplies……there are about 3 massive department stores, all selling clinique and estee lauder.  About five supermarkets, the one we went into is three stories high and has a cool escalator to go up and down (it’s the small things that amuse me!).  You can get ANYTHING, from towels, books, food thankfully no turtles or fish in tanks hat I could see), milk, COFFEE (they even sold jars of nescafe!) as well as suitcases, sports stuff, clothes, it’s just like a massive Asda 🙂  

So tomorrow is a shopping trip – I’ve got basic supplies of food (the fruit is fantastic, so fresh – melon is a speciality in this area) but I want to just wander around and see what brands I can recognise – I’ve a weird craving for frosties at the moment, I remember in Beijing seeing Tony the Tiger with chinese writing on the box) but they had a massive chilled section so I want to see if they have any yogurts or meals of any sort apart from noodles.

The school provide my meals when I’m teaching, and whilst the meal I had there the other night was good, there was the usual problem of the meat not being de-boned, so you have to very undelicately sit chomping off bits of chicken off the bone.

I think I’m also extremely lucky with this position to be honest, compared to some of the stories I’m hearing from others who were on my orientation.  My apartment is super-clean, the tv works (watched a random Chinese history programme last night on Pu Yi – didn’t understand a word but the film footage was interesting!), the apartment is right opposite the school, the school is really good and my FAO’s are really helpful – one of them also came round this morning to check to see whether I was okay. 

I’m just taking each day as it comes – the cold is another month away at least, I’d forgotten that I’d brought some pictures to remind me of home, so I’m going to do some “nesting” this afternoon and actually unpack!  And I have the AC/DC story on my ipad for tonight and pea crisps to munch.  No matter what I buy tomorrow I’m not going to spend much – to put it into perspective, a 500 ml bottle of pepsi is 30p and a melon and 4 oranges cost me 50p!