Hello all! Happy June! I’m feeling very cheery about the beginning of June for a couple of reasons. The biggest one is that I’m exactly halfway done my contract this week! 6 months down, 6 to go! It’s not that I dislike my job or my current situation so much that I’m counting down as much as I just can’t believe it’s been 6 months.. It’s not the beginning anymore! Weird. I am a teensy bit psyched to finish my contract, though, because if we decide not to stay for another year that means it’s time to take some time off and travel! So exciting! Also, the second half of the year will likely be much more exciting than the first. We have 2 big holidays coming up where we can get away, and 2 weeks paid vacation we still have to take. So one month of that 6 we won’t even be working. We also have family coming to share some of that vacation time, which we’re so looking forward to. Plus, we have friends now, which makes the time pass much quicker. So, happy June indeed!
A couple notable things have happened lately that I want to write about real quick. The first has to do with all the crazy work drama that revolved around my friend/coworker Arthur leaving, finding him a replacement, and then dealing with the replacement once he arrived and turned out to be.. not suitable for the job. (Remember when I said that hiring expats from afar was risky for employers as well as potential employees? Well, he’s the proof.) Long story short, he got fired this week. I had been waiting for this for awhile and was ready to pounce on the overtime while my boss looked for a permanent replacement. Unfortunately, things didn’t really go my way. My boss asked me to work full-time and take over Panda class (the cute 3 year olds, not the 6 year olds that send me home crying) for the rest of my contract. This is unfortunate because the offer involved a lot less money than I make when I do short-term overtime hours. Plus, I saw all my extra free time flash before my eyes. In the end I decided to turn it down. As much as I want to make money, it was the difference of about $2,000 over the course of 6 months, which is not enough to sacrifice my afternoons, not to mention the only real time I have with Kevin during the week. It’s kind of a gamble, but knowing that several of my coworkers still have vacation time to take, I’m thinking I can make that money back working less hours by doing overtime. I was hoping that I would still get some overtime hours while they looked for someone else to take the spot, but Arthur reappeared and is taking the class back! Talk about a lot of drama to end up exactly where we were… but I came out of it a couple extra paychecks richer so it’s all good in my book.
In the end I’m extremely happy with my choice and excited to go back to my regular hours (I did work full time last week while everything got sorted out). I can’t be sure when in my life I will have another chance to work 20 hours a week, pay student loans, live well, and save most of my money, so I’m going to take advantage of it now. Kevin has put me in contact with one of his students who is really nice and has a lot of similar interests as me, which I’m happy about. Last week we played badminton (I think I embarrassed her with how bad I was..) and this week we are going swimming!
The other news is bad news. As of this week we officially have a mouse infestation and I don’t know if I could be more upset about it. Since moving to China I have definitely learned about some of my fears. Elevators, small spaces, and now I realize how deathly and unreasonably afraid of mice I am. I can’t even stand being at home by myself because I’m afraid I’ll see one running around. Eeek! We have cleaned up and stored all the food. When Kevin has the day off on Wednesday he says he’s going to plug up the holes and set out traps. I don’t know what I want to see less, though, live mice or dead ones. Gross. These little terrors are literally making me want to pack up and leave but I’m trying to be strong (ie turing my music up loud and refusing to step off of my bed). Wish me luck in not being eaten by mice!
Last thing- I want to talk about my class a little bit and post some pictures of them because I have fallen completely in love with my students. If you can even call them students. They’re really just adorable little cutie-patootie babies. I can’t remember if I wrote about everything that went down with me getting my class but here’s the Cliff Notes version. When I first got to my school they gave me half of another class with the intent of adding more kids to it. However, after about a month and a half of struggling to fit myself into this other class and to do my own thing while sharing kids/assistant teachers/materials/space with the other class, my school decided to scratch that idea and give me a new class of all brand new students. Originally I was pretty annoyed. I had spent months getting attached to the kids I had and trying to get them used to me.
My class, Kangaroo Class, originally got stuck in the dance room which didn’t have anything I needed- a cleaning lady (every class has one), a computer, tables, chairs.. anything. We had to go back to the other class several times a day for snack, lunch, and water breaks. It was totally annoying. Plus, my kids were brand new to school and had no routine, no English, no idea who I was or what I was saying. They didn’t line up or do any of the other commands that the other kids in school had already been taught. I was lucky if a few of them didn’t just cry the whole time. It was rough for quite some time. The icing on the cake is that two administrators children are in my class and their kids were two of the biggest criers.
But, eventually it all got sorted out and it’s much better now. My classroom is the biggest in the school and my Chinese teachers did a great job decorating it. I love my Chinese teachers. They are helpful and enthusiastic. We can barely communicate at all with each other, but we work as a great team. I have a brand new computer with all the resources I need on it. And while I’d be lying if I said I loved my cleaning lady, I have one and I’m glad. And finally, my students have gotten completely comfortable with me. Well, my original 8 or so. They trickle in, and I just got about 6 new ones in the last 2 weeks, almost doubling my class size, so there are different levels of adjusted. But most of them are enough on the same page to consistently be happy to be in class and to see me, to know what I’m saying, to do what I want, and to have an effective and fun class. They are so much cuter when they’re cooperating.
So, sorry for all the text, but that’s the update on life for now. I’ll close with some pictures of the Kangaroo Class cuties. These were taken on Ken’s birthday. I feel bad for kids on their birthdays in China because they have to do all the work and give gifts to all the other kids, but it was fun nonetheless! Sorry for the lack of quality, just took them on my iPod, and those kiddos move quickly!