Adam’s View: China Three Months Later

We can’t believe that we’ve been living in China for a whole three months. It has been a whirlwind of a time with many ups and downs and we wanted to share our thoughts of what the past 90 days has been like. This is Adam’s view, and you can also read Rose’s view about this whole experience so far.

What has been the biggest highlight of the last three months?

The highlight so far has been our trip to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Army and to explore a bit of the city. It was a first time since being here that it felt like we were “travelling” and not just working in another city. We ate some really great food and met some other cool travellers that gave us a bit more normalcy in our lives. It happened just after a month of being in China, so we were still in the adjustment phase making that a perfectly timed trip for us. 

The food here is also a big highlight. It so cheap, always abundant, and (for the most part) always tastes delicious. It’s been fun experimenting with all sorts of different dishes. Since most menus are only available in Chinese, it’s been fun to just point at pictures that look good and see what you get. Sometimes we even just point at the Chinese characters and hope for the best. For the most part, everything has worked out in our favour. Sometimes we don’t get what we expected but ends up being incredibly tasty anyways. 

What has been the lowlight?

The lowlight has to be the job. It hasn’t been what we’ve expected and for me, it’s been 95% English-teaching, which wasn’t really what I signed up for. I had no experience teaching anybody, which our employers knew, but I had drama experience and some directing knowledge, which is why they hired me to be a Drama Teacher. Now that we’re here though, there’s been hardly any drama teaching whatsoever and I’ve had to adapt very quickly to faking how to be an English Teacher. On the bright side, I’ve learned a new skill and am much more comfortable around children than I was before. I try to stay optimisitc. 

My weekly schedule hasn’t helped with accepting the job either. I teach all over the city so I spend a lot of my time on buses and subways packed in tight with all the other commuters. I’ll have classes all morning and then classes in the evening as well some days, most of which are at least an hour commute away. Not to mention, Rose and I don’t have days off together making things a little more difficult but we’ve been able to make the most of our short times together.

What didn’t you expect?

We didn’t expect to live so far outside the city centre and we didn’t expect for the city to be as wide and spread out as it is. When researching Dalian before we came, of course all we could find was the beautiful seaside scenery, the most amazing buildings and fun things to do. Dalian also looks relatively small when you look at it on Google Maps so we expected for all these things to be pretty close together. In reality, from where we live, to get to most places requires a bit of a journey. Even with cabs or Didi (Chinese Über) we’re looking at a half hour ride at least to anything worth while.  

When we do find ourselves walking around downtown though, we realize how much we do like the city and if we lived closer maybe our whole situation would be better. But alas, we try our best to stay positive, eat the cost of the DiDi and try and have as much fun as we can.

What do you expect in the next three months?

I expect things to get better. Our employers assure us that when the new term starts everything will be a bit more settled. Our schedule will not change from week to week and we can find a more solid routine, which I think we’ve been lacking. Because we arrived in the middle of the term, it messed up the class schedules for many of the schools, which has led to a lot of on-the-fly teaching and not really knowing what to expect from a day-to-day perspective. Hopefully the new term brings happier times and more enjoyable work experiences. 

I’m also looking forward to cooler weather. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, but I think the heat and humidity mixed with the long teaching days hasn’t been helpful for anyone’s mood.  

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