Clarabella Speaks.

"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves" - Shakespeare

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Clarabella speaks Mandarin: 老师好!

Tonight's post (and all future China posts) come to you, not from plain old Clare Saunders, rather from Teacher Clare, or Miss Saunders as my kids now know me. Exciting eh?! Since last week I have moved to Tianjin and started life as a real life lao shi (teacher), which as it happens has involved several midday naps. China life is on the up!

Kids here (and therefore teachers too unforts) start at 7.35 AM and can go all the way until 4/5.00pm depending on the timetable. Today I was in 7.35-3.05 (my life is so much harder than yours) and at 12.30 I asked my class if they were tired (I was). Their reply? "Nooooooo", and one bright little button chirped up "all the classes, they are just so interesting". Not sure any teacher in all of the UK has, or will ever hear those words. My first four days (is that all?!) have been pretty much all good, except for the little rats in my classes who, when I ask them to guess who Rose is in a get-to-know-you game, pipe up "your daughter?". ER NO. And rest assured my reaction is enough to tell them not to make that mistake again. I have however been told that I am "just so beautiful" by many of them (not that I'm boasting or anything), so I still like them for now. I also have a pupil called Yoyo (they pick their own English names in primary school). I'm not sure I am going to manage to keep a straight face for the entire year when I have to call her by name.

Things on the Mandarin front are still pretty dire (I think maybe I should change the name of these blogs). Emma (my fellow ELA) and I went for dinner on Tuesday night, alone and unsheltered in the big bad world of chinese restaurants. We came across a stumbling block (not the first, nor the last) when we tried to order cold water. The word for water we know, we've had that baby down from the first week, but the Chinese think cold drinks do bad things to your stomach, so water, or 水, is served hot. Unfortunately we did not know the word for cold, so we resorted to pretending shiver, or acting if you will, to get our point across. He then brought us hot water so I don't think you'll be seeing us in any theatrical productions anytime soon. We are however beginning Mandarin lessons on Monday, so watch this space.

Finally, the culture shock seems to be wearing off, but then there is always something to bring you back to reality with a bang. For example seeing a child peeing into a shopping mall bin, or one-toothed Chinese grandpas getting all up in your face speaking an assortment of words I don't think I will ever understand. And people like to laugh at us, a lot. Ahhh ying guo ren, hahahahahaha. (Oh English people (which we aren't even), let's laugh at them). And if it's not laughing it's quite often staring. BOTH OF WHICH WE UNDERSTAND PERFECTLY.  Someone almost crashed his electric bike yesterday because he couldn't quite believe the two white things he saw walking down the street. To be quite honest he would have deserved to have fallen off (un-injured of course).

I know I sound resentful but actually I'm not. I'm really quite enjoying Tianjin, and the welcome we have received from our school has been fabulous. They even humoured us today with a badminton game - obviously we smashed them all the way to Timbuktu (LOL jk we were about as good as the Spanish World Cup team) - and the security guard is now our BFF. This blog has never seen such positivity! And so not wanting to ruin a good thing, I will love and leave you with the few photos I have managed to take since last time. Enjoy your wintery weather UK peeps, it's 30 degrees here.