Day 16 - First Day of School

Teacher's Lounge, Oh my!
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016
Smog Level: 2 Mountains

I spring awake at 8:30, thinking I had slept through my alarm. I had dreamt that my alarm already went off. Very funny, brain. Also, effective. 

Roommate Josh told The Director that he would show me the way to school. The School Handler, had told me that there were several buses to get to school. I had interpreted this to mean it would take multiple transfers to get there. Nope, just one ride, but three optional buses you could take. Well, that’s much less intimidating.
Monkeys in the Zoo
I had been thinking about the question of “why are manholes round?” which is, apparently, a question you need to be able to answer if you want to work at Microsoft. Is it because people can fit into it easily and takes up the least space? Is it because people can fit in round manholes easier? After some time of thinking about this, it finally dawned on me that it was probably because drills are round. Any other hold would take a lot more work. This is supposing that they drill them after the streets are paved. We briefly talked about this on the way to the bus.

Alpacas, I think
Josh told me that 6 and 8 are lucky numbers here. If you want a lot of 6’s or 8’s in your phone number, it will cost you more. 8 has to do with money, so I’ve been told. is the word for 8, and it sounds like the word which is the verb “to become rich.”

We walked up the long, extremely crowded 2-lane driveway along the side of the building. It’s the first day back to the boarding school after a month break. It’s a madhouse. Josh got me in with his keycard, and the guards didn’t give me any trouble for jumping the turnstiles behind him. I was already unsure of what to expect today, so I was happy it went without much trouble.

He showed me to our offices, and I was introduced to a number of folks: Stacy, Pool, Rocky, Brad, and saw the familiar faces of The Director, Agatha, Alex, and Ryan. The Director brought me into his office and we went through the employee handbook together. Some notable things: they give you a lump sum for flights, so you could actually make money if you get cheap enough flights (glad I came at the cheapest time($705)); you get a bonus per-month for signing on again, which applies to me because the school year ends in July; and, finally, we can make more money if we choose to cover other people’s classes.

After this brief rundown, I was released to lunch. Some of the staff went across the street for lunch, but Pool was going to the cafeteria and said he would show me around. He studied mandarin for his undergrad, is married, has a newborn, and was very helpful with pieces of advice. 

On the way up in the elevator
The cafeteria was packed. The food wasn’t bad, if a bit greasy. I met AJ and New Zealand Paul. They gave advice on learning Mandarin, and told me their experiences with the school and traveling around Asia. Seems like they’re all married, but I can’t recall if AJ was or not. Pool introduced me to another Canadian who was from Scarborough, but didn’t want to apply the GTA label to his hometown. He declined to join us in going to the teacher’s lounge because someone was there who’d apparently called him racist. Interesting first impression.

The School Even Has a Mini-Putt, And a Science Rock!
Pool showed me the school’s zoo, which had monkeys, llamas, some birds I’ve never seen before, and.. cats. Like, housecats. I noticed an observatory tower sticking out the top of one of the buildings we passed. The building we arrived in had a pool and an entrance near the entrance. You need a keycard access it, which you’ll notice I still haven’t received at this point. Pool told me it took him 4 weeks to get his, and he only got it because he got in trouble for jumping the turnstiles one day, explaining to the guard that he had no keycard. He got it the next day.

Man, this teacher’s lounge was amazing. All hardwood, massage chairs, big, high ceilings, comfortable couches, a cafe (with employees), western toilets, free (instant) coffee from a machine, books, and even a small gym with (limited) free weights and cardio machines. They also have a small library, magazines, and billiards tables.

This is the teachers lounge from the TV show Recess.

It seems like everyone I met was friendly and could carry a good conversation. Man, I really am going to like it here. One of my coworkers called it a “Workcation,” which, on the surface, it feels like it might be. Fingers crossed everything is as it seems.

One conversation in particular stood out with a guy called Dopple, which I learned two things from. First, there are three types of churches in China: one for Chinese people (legal), one for foreigners (legal), and one for everyone, but is not government sanctioned (illegal). It’s not even religion specific. it’s illegal because it has to be sanctioned with government review - and possible censorship - of all the content. The second was that he felt that anyone who gossiped should “have their tongue torn out, and thrown in prison to rot.” I’m not sure if that just happened to be the topic of the day, or if that was his way of trying to scare the idea out of the new guy. Either way, I agree that gossiping isn’t something to cherish..

Burning Hot Skillet for Dinner at the Mall
After the 2h lunch break, Agatha taught me the basics of how to teach a class and how our system works. It went felt short. She’s a bubbly woman from New Jersey who is in charge of the kindergarten class. Apparently she’s a bit of a nerd (into sci-fi), quite animated, and seems like she’d be perfect for teaching young kids.

After school, I met up with someone for tutoring, and grabbed a late dinner at the mall next door to my apartment. There were a number of women, all done up, in the mall foodcourt. Why are they dressed so classy in the foodcourt at 8:30 on a Tuesday night? Beats me.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
Think about/miss someone - Xiǎng [she-ong])
laugh (verb) - xiào [She-ow]
Beer - píjiǔ [pee-geo]
tea - chá [chah]

# month - yuè [you-eh] (months have numbers, not names; yī yuè is “one month” AKA January. Much simpler!)

Editing Music
Start a Riot


  1. You know there are PMI 2.5 readings right? lol - i find it funny u monitor smog level by mountains

  2. Yeah, my roommate has a monitor, but I haven't been paid yet.

    I'm in that awkward period where people assume I'm loaded because I'm a foreigner, but I'm still not in the money yet because I haven't been paid. There's a long list of things I need to get with my first pay cheque haha