I'm not well. I caught a cold on Saturday, stayed at home all day yesterday trying to get better but it was really cold in the house and I just felt worse and also struggled to sleep. This morning I didn't feel well to go to school. It's raining heavily and it's cold. I've got no umbrella and no proper winter clothes because I expected to be in the South. So I decided to stay in bed and try to get better.
Also, it doesn't help that I'm not happy at all here in Changchun. The city has nothing to do apart from going shopping (and I'm not keen on that because I've got no money) and is dirty, dusty, muddy, noisy and polluted. But what's worst is that I hate the company I work for, the way they treat us and the way things went, especially during the first three weeks. Things have improved a lot since then. My new apartment is decent. It has running water and is clean, and I have my own bedroom. We still have a few issues such as the TV is not working and it's really cold in the house sometimes. I have now a fixed schedule at two schools so the situation is better in this respect too. However, I expected something different from this programme and I'm really disappointed and getting really down.
I expected to be placed in the South. I came here to escape from the British winter. When I realised they placed me in the North, where temperatures would go as low as -30ºC, I got shocked and really upset but I understood they already advised us that this could happen so I tried my best to get over it and I came here with an open mind to make the most of it. But things haven't been as I expected and I'm finding it difficult to cope now.
We were supposed to be interning 35 hours a week, 5 days a week, with two consecutive days off. If that was the case, we should be at school 7 hours a day. I expected to be doing something like 8am-3pm, 8.30am-3.30pm, 9am-4pm. During those hours, we were supposed to be teaching 3 hours a day so I expected to have 3 or 4 classes a day and spend the rest of the time preparing lessons, marking coursework, attending other school activities and getting involved with the school community, having our lunch and taking our 2-hour Chinese lesson. Therefore, it sounded quite appealing to me. It didn't look hard and I was sure I could gain some very useful work and cultural experience from it.
At school, I have no computer, no desk, no access to a printer, no access to paper, no time to prepare lessons. There are no school activities. I've had no meetings. I don't feel part of the school community at all. There are no other foreign teachers in neither of the schools I teach. I don't receive any kind of help from any teacher. There's a big language barrier between me and the other teachers. No-one talks to me and I feel lonely and isolated. I have a hard time when I'm there and I even feel anxious the day before when I know I have to go there the next day.
In addition, I didn't expect to have to commute for more than half an hour per way and I'm commuting between 1.5 and 2 hours per way every day, which makes a total of about 15 hours commuting a week. Yesterday they gave me the new schedule and I have to start even earlier than before, which means I will have to leave home at 7am on Mondays and Wednesdays, at 5am on Tuesdays and at 6am on Fridays.
The company provided us with 2-hour Chinese lesson so far, when we should have had 12 hours already.
If there is any chance the organisation in Beijing can find me another placement, I'm happy to give it another try. Otherwise, I will soon hand my resignation in because I don't think it'll make me any good to stay here unhappy and upset as I am now.