Day 31 - Foreigners and Business

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016
Smog Level: All 3 Mountains

Shimou went home last night, which made it easier to go to bed at 10pm. Best suggestion for going to bed earlier: avoid naps and use caffeine to get you close enough to the goal. I used to work night shifts irregularly, so getting back on schedule is normally easy for me... but painful.

I was up around 7 and really wanted to go back to sleep, but used my phone to keep myself awake. The “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Universe (comics), their massive reboot, has only been around a short while, but it's pretty damn good. I’d recommend the new series “Vision” which is about an android family trying to live a relatively normal life in a Washington DC suburb. Very entertaining. I don't know how they keep coming up with new stuff to throw in, honestly.

The Mountains on the Way to Work
I have the internet in a headlock and am able to edit some more posts. I’ve been doing 2 a day to catch up on the editing and finalization, and juggling writing on top of it. Both can be a pain, but when you do something daily, it gets easier to get past the bother and just do it. Again: the importance of starting above all else.

After grabbing some free lunch, I sit in the teacher’s office to make sure my lesson plan is prepped. Apparently some classes were cancelled due to a field trip, but they expect us to hang around the school despite there being no class/students. This sort of shift in management is what they were worried about during the meeting this past Friday. Who knows what changes happen. Could be a thumbprint scanner, could be change in dress code, or a full 9-5 requirement, even without classes. That’s exactly why people are getting worried - no one knows what's going to change. 

The Ol' Apartment Complex
One of my coworkers told me about foreigners opening businesses with Chinese partners. They need the Chinese person just to open the store, while the foreigner runs the business/is the expert of their product/service. Eventually they will have some differences in management, usually the Chinese person pushing for things that the Westerner doesn’t agree with, and *poof* the foreigner gets deported. The Chinese person - now is the sole owner - succeeds in running the thing into the ground with their ideas on management. His words, not mine. He said he’s seen it happen a number of times, including a husband-wife couple doing the same and ending up divorced/deported. What fun!

I hang out in the teachers lounge and alternate between reading Vision and studying flashcards of Mandarin. I think it might be time to start running through common phrases in addition to words. With a basic foundation, it will probably be easier to remember full sentences.

Joseph is there, and we speak about fashion, and where to get tailored clothing and shoes. He’s a man of varied interest, that’s for sure. I asked if he knew how to tie a bowtie and he said “If a man my age doesn’t know how to tie a bowtie, he deserves to be slapped” or something along those lines. 

Dopple and his wife stop by and chat about some of their his experiences of China, saying that he had embarrassed himself when he had met the head of the school. How? By speaking Chinese when the Head is fluent in English. I don’t think that’s terrible. How was he supposed to know who speaks English and who doesn’t? A lot of our Chinese colleagues don’t! It’s clear from my conversations with the Non-Carden side that they think we get paid much less, and that our positions aren’t nearly as good. I’m happy with what I have, and the freedom that comes with it. One of the Carden teachers said that the Non-Carden teachers get paid more on their pay cheque, but they don’t get an included apartment. Meaning, the amount for us is roughly equal.

The conversation continues while we walk to class and go to our separate buildings. The first class went quite well, while the second one needed the whip cracked. I had been letting them get away with speaking Mandarin way too often and giving too many warnings. After 2 classes of laxness, my Chinese Coteacher, Bunny, and I killed stars like it was going out of style. Even with that, they were not behaving that well. Here’s hoping that they get the message and stay in line tomorrow. I stayed after class, since Bunny was holding back three boys for not having their homework done, and I felt it better for me to be a unified front. Also, I had tests to mark. Once the boys were done, we chatted about her our respective experiences at learning new languages, and travel. Bunny’s cool. So is Joy, my other co-teacher.

A Lone Dog... No Owner in Sight
I spoke with Buster, another Carden Teacher, and got his take on the changes. The conversation started because he had mentioned that we could take some detergent from the staff table, which was giving out laundry detergent, baby wipes, and portable baby wipes for - get this - international women’s day. Good effort, but still hilarious. Buster is always dressed very dapper, which I told him and asked where he got his clothes fitted. He said he knew a guy who would make you a full suit for varying amounts depending on your bargaining skills. The range: ¥900-2000 ($185-411 CAD). That’s average-to-low for a low-end, ill-fitting, off-the-rack suit - sometimes even a blazer - and this is for a fitted, made-for-you-specifically suit. Oh, boy… this is going to be nice.

I grab some jiǎozì ([gee-ow-zhh] dumplings) and biǎozì ([bee-ow-zhh] pork buns) from the shack in my complex and enjoy the authentic Chinese atmosphere. In the apartment, I find Josh and Ayi. She tries speaking to us. We both look confused while she repeats what she’s trying to convey. Too fast, and a regional accent. Josh can sort of understand her, better than me, because he has been practicing speaking on WeChat with a guy from the same area of China as her (Northern). She seems nice and hard working, but damned if I can understand her. Time to get some 1-on-1 lessons as soon as I get paid…

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
Friend - péngyǒu [pung-yo]

Wine - pútaojiǔ [poo-tao-jeo]

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