Day 24 - Making Friends

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016
Smog Level: 0 Mountains - You can smell it

Success! 6:45am wake up and stayed up! The goal for today is simply to stay awake and see if I could get any work done. I didn’t.

After messing around and trying to call home on our shoddy internet, I head into work around 10:30 to grab some lunch and hang out at the teacher's lounge.

These Sorts of Quotes Are Everywhere in the Main Courtyard at School
Have you ever played any of the Persona games? If not, skip this paragraph!! It's not Japan, but being an asian country makes it feel surprisingly like that game at times. Free time! What will you do with that time? Build a relationship perhaps?! I can’t summon monsters to fight my way through the midnight hell school…

At lunch, I spot someone who has a similar build as Josh, so I mistake him from behind. I realize upon my approach that it’s not him because Josh was wearing a Cosby sweater today and this guy.. wasn't. Guess I’ll meet someone new!

Jack, a red-headed 25-year-old from the non-Carden side of the school! He was cool, had taught english in Korea and Venezuela, and has a girlfriend at another school in Beijing. We talked about John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, as I had watched most of them this morning, and other things to do with politics. I really gotta start reading and looking into more things, as my focus on language and narrow digest of information has made most of my conversations more... heavy. Definitely a fault of mine.

We stroll over to the teachers lounge. We have the same opinion on the lounge: spend time there whenever you can. Inside, I see Tad again, and Joseph, another Carden teacher who I haven’t had much time to speak with. Tad continued researching their summer vacation, which appears to possibly be Bali. I gave whatever advice I could on the topic, and ended up speaking more with Joe.

Just Some.. Thing I Pass on a Daily Basis
He’s from Detroit and knows Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo, Toronto, and Montreal pretty well, and he’s spent a bit of time in Africa. The coffee is far better there, he tells me, than than in Australia. It came up when I mentioned Australia’s claim of “best coffee in the world.” He seemed a little standoffish when I first met him, but others told me he was just a little quiet. They were right, he’s a really chill guy. My experience with my fellow teachers continues.

Around 1, I watch Ryan teach one of my future classes. Next.. I have to try my hand at it with the director watching. 

I… am not used to being an authority of any sort. I’m much more accustomed to resenting authority, so here’s time to cut my teeth. Teaching has a number of skills that I’m not accustomed to: presenting the material in a way they can understand, at a speed they can understand, and authoritatively enough that they’ll actually listen. Classroom management and their daily procedures are both foreign to me, compounding the difficulty in juggling. 

Afterward, The Director gives me some advice, and I realize just how unimposing of an authority figure I am, despite my stature. With my confidence in the job somewhat shaken, I slump to the bus stop where I run into Carden Dan. He reassures me about the teaching process, and how long it’ll take to adjust. The Director had said that if anyone was great at teaching the first time they tried it, then they would probably need to be paid much, much more than the school was offering.

Jiǎozì and Bāozì
Dumplings and Pork buns
Dan lives in the same complex as me, but different building. On the way home, he shows me an alternate route and a good jiǎozì ([jee-ow-ze] dumpling) place. A rack of jiǎozì for ¥7 is pretty good. Definitely have to stop by there for a snack. Definitely feels like Persona.

We talk about a broad variety of topics, and he’s one of the first people who actually seems interested in the same broad ideas and concepts that I like to talk about. I usually have to hedge those things and keep them somewhat grounded, but he asked questions back and seemed engaged. Awesome. I had just been confiding in Josh the day before that I didn’t feel like I clicked with too many of the teachers just yet. Don't get me wrong: they’re all cool, but like friendly acquaintances, if that makes any sense. It’s funny how the timing worked out.

We stayed at the jiǎozì place and get a bowl of noodles, each, which Dan treats. Sort of a “Welcome to Beijing,” he said. Afterward, he added me to Wechat and I wandered the complex, finding my way back to the apartment.

In said apartment, Ayi is cleaning. Josh goes to swim, and I use my broken mandarin to ask her to bleach the bathroom floor. “Nǐ kěyǐ yòng zhè gè…” (You can use this…) pointing to the bottle, and then pointing to the bathroom floor. She speaks lightning quick, but the point eventually gets across.

Though I’m tired and don’t want to write, I throw myself into catching up the past few days before the memories fade too much. My apologies if this comes off as somewhat unenthused. It was fun to live, but not fun to write when fighting sleep. And it’s only 8pm.

Boo “adult” sleep schedules.

Words of the day:
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
Water - Shǔi [shway / shay]
Ground - dì mìan [de me-awn]
Air - kōng qì [kong chee]
Sleep (v) - shùi jiào [shway jee-ow]
Building - lóu [low]

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