Yesterday was a VERY long day here… for the most part, it was everyone’s 2nd day here and one of the free days the interns would have before setting off to their schools. Everyone was eager to go out and do a bit of exploring in the morning so a few groups ventured out to check out the Forbidden City (I’ll get to do this on Saturday thankfully) and Tiananmen Square. But they didn’t get too much time as we needed to spend the afternoon sorting out visa photos and more excitingly… receiving their school locations! It was sort of like when grades are posted on a wall at school… all the interns rushed to this wall where their names and locations were listed. Everyone seemed really pleased with their location and even better, most of them got the areas (if not similar) they had selected and quite a few of them are with at least 5 other interns (and that’s just i-to-i interns, there will be other English teachers in their areas). On Saturday morning all the interns will be sent off to their different locations by train (or taxis, depending on how close they are)… some might endure an overnight train! All of this is safe and organised, which is great as you get to have these authentic experiences with that bit of security and comfort.
But anyway, after the location allocation yesterday there was a bit of free time during which everyone got to speak with the different in-country team members about where they were going and what they could expect. Seems like the team was incredibly helpful in giving people all the basics they needed to know about where they were going. Following this it was Mandarin Corner. What is that? Basically, members of the team here (both Western and local) host a little session with the interns to introduce them to very basic Mandarin. The lesson consisted of the simple things it helps to know when you go out… such as “How much is this?” or “That’s too expensive” and just basic numbers. For those who don’t venture out in the morning, it’s sort of your first real chance to mingle with a few locals and get your first taste of the language.
Then finally (as you can see, last night was JAM-PACKED!) there’s a welcome dinner. The food was REALLY nice… but never ending. That “Lazy Susan” was overflowing with all sorts of meat curries and rice… Don’t think I’d ever seen so much food in my life. There wasn’t alcohol served, but rest assured. The bar sold alcohol, and one of the guys came back to the table with a 600ml bottle of beer which cost about 60p! That’s the other thing, everything is so cheap it’s great! We took the subway last night to Bar Street, and it cost just 2 YUAN – that is about 20p (maybe less). We then took a taxi back to our hotel… were probably in the taxi for about 10 – 15 minutes and it cost 20 YUAN – that’s about 2GBP!
But last night, the first bar we went was really strange – it was like loud ‘we be clubbing” rap with really bright “we’re trying to blind you” lights all over the place – But it was a Wednesday night and there were about 10 people in there! It wasn’t really any of our scenes, so we had a drink (we couldn’t be rude!) and then made our way over to another bar where the guy outside of it dragged us in with a “two for one” offer. Funnily enough, that was the only English he spoke…
As much as I wanted to share all of this with you all yesterday, you can see why when I got in at midnight last night … all I wanted to do was rest my head on my hard, wooden bed. :)