Monday, September 04, 2006

Survival of the Fittest

Beijing seems to have 4 seasons, although they are a bit unlike Wisconsin's. Here they include: freezing one's ass off, sandstorm, sweating one's ass off, and September. Now, my favorite Beijing season is upon me. Ahh, September. It seemed the temperature dropped about 20 degrees (Fahrenheit, that is) between August 31 and September 1. Well, the change is more than welcome.

In other news, I managed to survive my first week of teaching, just barely. It started much more happily than it ended. On Friday I had to go LO (that's the code name I have created for the school, as I feel there will be a lot of future bad mouthing of it. For my own protection, I will be keeping it's true name confidential). This was the first time teaching at this school. It was not pretty. But let me backtrack a bit. . .

To start off the morning, I had to catch the 419 bus. This bus is mammoth. It's actually the size of two buses stuck together. I naively though that due to the early hour (7am) and the size of the thing, it couldn't possibly be crowded. I was wrong. People are so packed into the bus so tight that it's almost impossible to close the door. I had brought a magazine with me, but there wasn't even enough room to hold it up to my face. About 45 minutes into this hellish ride, I started to panic. I didn't know when my stop was coming and if I wasn't next to the door when it did come, there was no way I'd make it off for that stop, or even the one after it. I began to squeeze my way through the people. There's no need to be polite about it at least. No "sorries" or "excuse me's," just pushing will do. Riding the bus is survival of the fittest at its finest. MIght I also add, that when a seat becomes free, it is quite a scene. I'm surprised it doesn't more often come to blows.

I got off the bus around 8. Seriously considering taking a taxi in the future. I'm sure it's going to come to it. A taxi ride would probably cost me $5-8, which isn't bad by American standards, but the bus only costs a quarter. But really, shouldn't experierences that awful be free?

At LO, I teach 4 half-hour classes. The kids in each class were quite out of control. Several of their teachers were in the room trying to help, but it wasn't very effective. I had children out of there seats and lying sprawled across the floor. One tiny girl started shaking violently when I said "hello" to her (I seriously thought she was epileptic). I asked her teacher if something was wrong with her. "No," she said, "she's just playing around." Okkkkkk. I started the class by playing a game with the kids. It involved me throwing a ball and one child catching it. One little girl voulenteered to play. She wasn't able to catch the ball, and many of her classmates laughed. She went ballistic. She attacked one of her classmates, smacking and hitting. One of her teachers tried stopping her, but then she turned and began punching him. Finally, she ran out of the room. I know what you might be thinking, they're just kids. Kids can be crazy. But you don't understand. These are CHINESE kids. Chinese children are usually so well-behaved. Not this lot of them.

I must have to be positive. I just gotta hang in there for the next. . . 6 months.

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