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New Semester

I’m half way through the first week of the new semester. I’ve got new students. Some new English names: Nectarine, Molin (she made it up herself and it has no meaning), Cookie (a boy who likes cookies), Stark *a boy), Jagger I the student never heard of Mick Jagger), Moco (?), Nikey (a misspelling of the shoe company), Ankh *suggested by an Australian friend of a female student), Tab(??) and Garcia (not inspired by Jerry) I’ve had a lot of Cherries and a couple Apples and an Olive as English names, but never “Nectarine.”

What’s very weird is I’m the only English teacher here. The other four are still waiting for their visas. One should arrive this weekend and the others sometime after. I can imagine their frustration with the uncertainty. There’s very little information during this process that started months ago and probably takes longer than any other country.

We’re having weird weather. This past weekend was in the high 60s and today we have snow.

We’ve got one new IT professor and she seems quite nice. She’s got a lot of food restrictions and hasn’t wanted to eat out, which is a shame since food is so central to the culture.

My schedule’s okay, but Thursday I finish at 10 and I don’t teach again till Friday from 2pm to 4pm. I did need Friday morning off to attend my online class, and am grateful for that, but teaching Friday afternoon every week . . . ? First World problem, I know, but how I’d like to move that to Thursday.

The books have all arrived in time and all my students have theirs. For another teacher, who’s teaching IT classes, they’ve boycotted the book because they feel it’s too expensive. I’ve been in classes where the book was expensive, but I just wouldn’t dream of not getting it.

I had planned a few projects for sophomores, but it turns out I’ll just have two sections of freshmen. C’est la vie. I miss my old students, but these new ones will be lovely too.

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Architecture

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Selfridge’s  – London

Shrine in Kyoto

Heian Temple, Kyoto, Japan

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Buddhist Temple – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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St. Sophia Russian Orthodox Church

Travel Theme: History

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Queen Victoria

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Westminster Cathedral, London

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Beijing, West of Tiananmen Square

Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack invites bloggers to post photos on a particular theme. This week’s theme is history and I definitely have some photos of historic objects and buildings. If you would like to join in (everyone’s welcome to join in!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: History
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday (unless, of course, I get locked out again!)
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS.

 

Ctrip Review

I’ll never buy train tickets online from Ctrip.com. I thought it would make getting tickets a lot easier, but boy have I been proven wrong.

First I signed up for an account, as I would for any website. Then I selected my tickets. Again this was typical and I didn’t have any problems, but it took longer than most sites. I then selected my tickets and the page loading was slow and I had to start over three times. After investing an hour in this process I found I would have to pay a $10 fee for each ticket. The usual fee is 50 rmb (around 90¢). I went ahead and bought just one ticket planning to get my return ticket at my hotel.

Ctrip’s site says consumers can pick up their tickets at any kiosk. That was key for me.

I went to a conveniently located kiosk and was told that the only place to pick up the Ctrip ticket is at the train station. Yikes! Chinese train stations are known for slow service and long lines.

I wound up having to go to the station where I had to wait 50 minutes to pick up my tickets. Ctrip is a horrible way to go for train tickets. If I’d just gone to the station and bought mine there I’d have to wait in line for 50 minutes, I’d still have saved an hour and $9.10.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Anticipation

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1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other themed photos:

Flâneur

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History, depicted and objectified

No matter what I do in China, as welcome as I feel, I’m naturally a flâneur, which is a fancy word for objective observer. Here I’m sharing a recently repainted administration building. I’m sharing a photo from Zhujiayu, the restored village near Jinan. I’m going there again tomorrow so watch this space to find out how that went.

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other themed photos:

At Starbucks

Yesterday after a few hours of waiting around to submit paperwork for my visa, I stopped by Starbucks for a semi-quiet place to read my Library class homework. I chose a corner table and seat.

From the time I got in line, I noticed an older woman with a very proud face taking pictures of a young woman in a purple shirt. She followed this girl around the café so I thought the girl was her daughter. The girl left and the woman returned to a seat in front of my table. She looked very artsy and youthful, but it was weird that she was taking so many pictures of people. You can do that on the street, but not inside a business or private venue without permission. She started to really irritate the customers.

At one point she grabbed a bag of coffee bean and started yelling questions to the baristas. They responded politely, but did look apprehensive.

A young couple sat on the other side of me. The woman started photographing them, particularly the woman, who immediately told her to stop. Then the photographer got angry. She did seem to be itching for a fight and she got one. She started yelling at the woman near me and showing her National I.D. card. The guy with the young woman started defending her. He then turned to me and said in English, that the photographer was crazy. I asked what she was saying and he said she’s telling everyone that she’s a college professor.

The argument escalated till the photographer threw her tumbler, which was full of milk, at the couple’s table. No one was hurt, but glass shattered everywhere and the milk splattered all over the place.

The manager came forward while the security guards were called. When a young, skinny guard, a young Chinese Don Knotts, arrived he just peered through the window. Eventually, two managers of the security company appeared and began talking with the photographer and the girl who was her target.

Two police officers came. The young one held a camera to record the interaction. The photographer became extra gracious and offered them seats at her table. The declined the offer and stood. There was some arguing back and forth and the older officer wrote some notes. New customers came in and gawked while lining up for their Frappuccino’s and cheesecake. Amidst all this yelling and attempts to deescalate the tension, I’m pretending to do homework and wishing I spoke Chinese.

Pretty soon, the photographer was asked to leave. I was surprised that the police just let her go. She was clearly mentally disturbed, still very angry, still able to take photos to annoy people and within walking range of at least a dozen coffee shops. I expected them to take her in to let her cool down and assess her story. She didn’t just take photos of people. She threw an object that she knew could hurt someone. That was her intention.

Still Waiting

Should I give up hoping to get to China by Sunday the 4th?

Rather than sending the paperwork she got back from Immigration to my employer via an overnight express, this woman who’s done the job for years, emailed the teachers for their addresses expecting us to take the paperwork to a local consulate which we’ve never done. (In Hefei, the other site of a program did the same thing and unfortunately, the teacher complied. His paperwork is on its way to Arizona, where there is no consulate. He’ll just have to ship it all to Massachusetts.)

So she wasted Monday causing another precious day to be wasted. I emailed her to find out what day of entry to put on our forms for our paperwork and was told Sept 13th! Luckily, when I asked the woman in China who’s in charge of this, she said if we put Sept. 13th as our date of entry we would be able to enter before then.

Fingers crossed.

I better also say some prayers to be safe.

Limbo

Though classes start on September 5, none of the teachers going to China have their tickets to Jinan and the English teachers don’t have visas. There’s some unspecified delay in China. The office staff waited till August to do the paperwork on their end. Monday we were told it was submitted (no date was given) and that it will take two weeks there to get it done.

After that they’ll send it to Massachusetts. Then we’ll be asked to send overnight our forms and passports. Then these items get sent to the embassy in New York. I hope they’ll expedite the process so they’re done overnight. Then everything will have to be sent back to us from Massachusetts. Then we’ll get our airline tickets. I’d love to leave late next week.

The woman in China in charge of this says there’s no problem as we can make up the classes. The two teachers will teach 24 hours per week. Whoever teachers with that sort of schedule have had to make up classes (one because her father died, the other because his wife gave birth to a still born baby) at night. So they taught from 8 am to noon and 2pm to 4pm and then from 7:30 pm to 9:30pm and then the next day at 8 am. They had to do that Monday to Thursday for three weeks or more.

I have no interest in teaching such long days. Usually, I plan and grade at night and my days are plenty long. The other option would be to teach on the weekend. Neither of these options appeal to the students. I hate how the students and teachers are stuck in the middle and how no one will offer an apology or sympathy.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

in New Orleans

in New Orleans

in Beijing

in Beijing

in Kathmandu

in Kathmandu

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other themed photos:

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