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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Back to School

Classes started last weekend finally! It was brilliant to see some of the kids. There is very little cuter in this world than seeing 4 year olds have back to school reunions. One of my tiniest F2 boys saw his best Disney friend (who happens to be one of my tiniest F2 girls) arrive and shouted 'NNNNIIIINNNNNAAAAA!!!' across the clubhouse, causing Nina to spot him and go 'JJJJJEEERRRRRRYYYYYY' at which point they ran to each other and hugged tight like the moment after a disaster in a movie when the leads are trying to find each other, then started giggling. Seriously, I nearly died.

There is another really cute little girl that I met at a referral event and she just glomped on to me totally. The whole event she kept turning around to tell me COMPLETELY! IMPORTANT! THINGS! in Chinese about herself (that I kept having to smile a nod at as I had no clue) and running over to me to give me hugs. She's really adorable. Apparently the dad enrolled her into class and she just happens to be in a class that goes into session the same time as one of mine, we had some trouble explaining that she couldn't go with me into my class (she lined up with them and everything before I realised she wasn't supposed to be there). I don't currently have a class for her level else I would have snatched her up immediately.

I have my new teaching partner now and she is much much better, though I'm having a bit of trouble adjusting. The fact is I basically didn't have any help in class (my previous partner was sort of there in flesh only) so I really don;t know how to use one. I love that she wants to be involved but have had some big frustrations this week over her judging my classes because she doesn't know my classes or their progress and keeps comparing them to her old ones. At one point she was being quite insulting and I told her so, but the next day we were able to come in and plan, so it's nice that we're able to say what we say and not hold grudges at this point. With both of us involved planning is taking ages though! I need a way to speed things up to something close the time it took me alone. Hopefully we'll be able to settle into things soon though, I think we're both quite controlling people with experience (my new LP worked in another centre before this) which is making the first few steps a little rocky. We're getting there though, and it's nice to have someone who gives a shit in class.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Back to work, but not quite

Well, we were supposed to be back to our centre doing demos today, but upon my arrival I learned that we'd failed our fire safety inspection (possibly because of the masses of boxes blocking our fire escape at the time?) so we're not allowed to start them. Instead of demos tomorrow we'll be doing parent tours of our new centre so they have a chance to resolve some of their concerns about moving, but the lack of certificate means we can't start teaching this weekend like we'd planned. Quite what this is going to do to our teaching schedule hasn't been decided yet by the higher-ups, but there's only so many lessons we can condense and still teach all our content, so we're hoping for an answer soon. Right now the idea is that we start teaching Thursday, though whether that comes to fruition or not is anybody's guess. Hopefully the right bribe will have been paid to the right person by then.

Three trainers have quit suddenly at the other centre which has left a lot of us concerned as to how it's going to affect us. Technically, according to our learner numbers, we have too many trainers for our centre, so I think they're looking into seeing who is willing to transfer, but I really don't want to at all. Fingers crossed it doesn't become an issue for me, I'm uncertain at this point how forceful the 'request' will be, or if it will even be extended to me. While we may have too many trainers, we scheduled our classes assuming all the trainers we have, so to pull multiple pairs out now would take some creative rearranging to say the least.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Shopping

Wow, I spent a lot of money the last few days; obviously I shouldn't be left on my own with free time and an internet connection?

2 days ago I joined a gym. Yay? It was a good deal, 1980 kwai for a year (just under £200/$320ish) but with loads of freebies. They gave me a free six months on the end so I actually got an 18 month contract. They also gave me a 1500 kwai gift card for the spa close by, a free gym bag, towel, and water bottle. I kind of feel like I'm making money off them at this point? I joined with my manager at work, and a guy at work is also thinking of coming back with his girlfriend and joining up. The man who signed us up must be so happy, he gets commission from 4 people. This is what you get for not being too scared to show around the foreigners. You have to nominate a day to start your membership, my gym buddy has gone away for the National day holiday so we're not starting until the 8th. She basically told me: Go Home. Bake. When I come back, prepare to go hardcore. I'm taking her advice. I wouldn't usually advise the 'Last Supper' approach to losing weight - eat everything you want in large quantities the last few days before you start dieting - because it's just more to lose, and it puts you in the mindset of denial ('I'm never going to get to eat this again!'). On the other hand, I've been watching 'Great British Bake-off' avidly and all I've been wanting to do is mix flour, sugar, butter and put it in my face, so I figured why not.

Last night/this morning I went internet shopping. Oh, how many stories begin with those words? Here's the thing. I need clothes for the autumn/winter, and it costs to ship them here so rather than ordering one or two things as I go, I do one big order a two or three times a year. £190/$300 later, and I bought all the things. Seriously, all of them. And then I accessorised. It probably would have been better for my wallet if I hadn't discovered that Evans, Yours, and Marks & Spencer (all good plus size clothing suppliers in the UK) now all ship world wide. It also probably would have been a good idea to wait a bit and see if this gym thing end up equalling actual body changes before ordering new clothes, but post generally takes about three weeks and by then it's going to be getting cold, so I don't really have time to wait around. Tailors here can be pretty cheap, I'll find a way to get them adjusted if sizes are really off.

Then, to top things off, I went to WalMart to get some groceries, and came back with a new bedding set and a new DVD player, because my player broke a few weeks ago and apparently that's how I roll today. I'm funny with money sometimes. I'm generally quite sensible with it, and enjoy saving and seeing my little savings account fill up, but then a few things I need to get build up and I have a spree. Once the seal is broken as it were, I find it very easy to keep spending. If you're going to do it may as well get everything right? There's a necklace in a posh jewellery shop near WalMart that I've had my eye on basically since I got here (a good 7 months ago now!) and I was so close to just saying 'screw it' and buying it today. I have a nickel allergy so a lot of costume jewellery sends me out in a rash. I've been thinking recently I should get one or two really good pieces and wear them a lot. I don't know exactly how much this necklace costs because I don;t want to go in and ask in case it's super expensive and I have to turn around again. It's a little embarrassing to have them get something out the window and then realise there's no way you could afford it. Or to realise that yes you could afford it, but it's more expensive than you thought so you don't want to get it, but then you've sort of committed your interest? Or maybe it's all in my head, but whatever. From what I can spy from the window I think the pendant might be around 1200 kwai, plus the cost of the necklace. If I re-sign at the end of my contract I get a month's salary bonus, which would get me the money the end of April I think. Given that it's my 30th Birthday in May it might be a good present to me, we'll see if it's still there.

Fortunately I was reasonably financially prepared for this. When I sent £3000 home the other month I put a good percentage of it in my savings account, but left some money in the current account so that when the weather started getting cooler I could shop. Even with what I've spent today I'm OK, and so long as I don't go on any more sprees I should still be able to put aside half of my salary at the end of the month to send home at some point, which is what I aim to do. I've got money in my home account left still (despite my best efforts!) so that should sort me for my Christmas shopping. I can't believe so many places online have their Christmas content up already! It's not even Halloween yet people!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

It was the best of foods, it was the worst of foods

It's great being in the new centre at work, but I can't wait until we get back into actual routine again. With the switch around while we actually moved, and the October holiday coming up, I can't keep track of days at all right now.

I had the best and worse of food experiences today. The highlight was Free Stufz that Disney gave us (again! First an Avengers DVD and now this, it's been a good freebie month). We all got a gift voucher for a box of goodies from Haagen Dazs in honour of the Moon Festival, with today being the last day to redeem it and us not having to be into work until a bit later (owing to the Fire Marshall coming to give the final sign off) I hopped the metro a few stops to the city proper and picked mine up. It was pretty! (Click for larger if you want to see what's in it)


The roundish chocolate thing is an ice-cream version of a moon cake (making it basically a big, delicious choc ice), the traditional version of which I'm not really a fan of. Slight choc ice fail though when I bit into it and realise the dry ice seen on the side of the box hadn't quite done the job, and while the chocolate had the remained solid the inside was liquid. My problem was compounded by the fact that after finishing my treat (over the sink, mamma didn't raise no fools) (well...) I realised the water had been turned off temporarily and had to do some improvising to make myself presentable again. The rest of my box is currently in the freezer at work to prevent me from scoffing the whole lot in one go at home.

I'm meant to be off tomorrow because I'm coming in a day early back from the holiday to do demos, but I didn't get all my lesson planning done (my AT was having boyfriend drama, which I thought I'd avoided owing to her calling in sick, but she rang and I couldn't get her off the phone) so I'll nip in tomorrow for a few hours and get the rest finished off.

On the way home I had to nip into WalMart and get some meat for attempt two in the slow cooker (tomorrow, I want to wake up, poke the contents of that pot with a spoon and have it fall apart - you hear me slow cooker?) and had unfortunate low point in food for the day, on display (or, more precisely, animal parts) section of the shop


What? Suddenly not hungry? There was no meat on it, just pig face hung up by the ears. I particularly like how the black bar behind it makes it look like it's glaring balefully out of one eye.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Back

My friends and I did manage to get out to Hong Kong after all, so we had a great few days! Hong Kong is an awesome city, lots to see and do and so much easier that China! Because of it's British history English is spoken much more widely and much more proficiently, I'd forgotten what it was like to ask a question and get an answer without causing pandemonium. Ah, back when life was simple...

We got a flight to Shenzhen because it was much cheaper then flying to Hong Kong as it's still a domestic flight. From there we grabbed a bus (it only takes 70 minutes, plus time to go through customs). The first plane journey was a bit of a farce, we were loaded on to the plane at 9:30pm for a two hour flight and didn't take off until midnight. The poor stewardesses had a mutiny on their hands. I've always felt that the Chinese language can feel a bit like you're being yelled at even when you're not, but when people are actually angry it's pretty scary.

The first day we went the beach at Repulse Bay and at night we saw the Symphony of Lights show at Victoria Harbour.


Day 2 was all about Disney Hong Kong baby! As I mentioned before we got in for free because of our silver passes. When you go in on your Silver pass you can sign in yourself and three other people, so we went and got all four tickets and then played ticket fairies for people in the queue. We gave some to a nice Austrailian family we met on the subway getting to the park, and then gave out the others. It's surprisingly hard to give away free tickets? People assume you're out to scam them. We were like 'no, really, free tickets, no tricks. We work for Disney, they gave us tickets, we have extras'.

The subway line to Disney is themed! How cute is this?



The third day we hopped on a tram a just rode around the city. At one point we spotted an Outback and nearly died of happiness, hopped off the tram and had lunch. We walked around for a while afterwards and found a supermarket and a pharmacy to stock up on things we can't find in China (in my case that was mostly Cadbury's chocolate, parchment paper for cooking, and good deodorant). I was glad to get it all, thought Hong Kong is expensive. Or rather, I say that, Hong Kong is about on par with any international city, but with China being So. Cheap. in most things, going back to regular-ish prices gave me a bit of shell shock. When I get home to England (where it's expensive to live) I'm not going to be able to make myself  buy pretty much anything for a while. I also got some cough medicine, hoping that actual, real medicine might have more effect on the cough I have now had for two weeks than the crappy snake vemon Chinese stuff. The stuff I bought is green like The Hulk, and tastes like someone has bottled death and left it under a radiator for a week so it better be doing me some good. *Knock wood* I'm feeling a little better. I caught it from my new AT (who still has it!) and have given it to at least one of the girls I travelled with (whoops) so I would really like to see the back of it without needing a doctor visit.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye

The last day at our centre has been survived and it's over! The new place isn't quite ready though so they've give us until next Monday off while things are finished. Given that we get all of 5 vacation days a year, it's an unexpected bonus. I went  and had a look inside the new building yesterday with a few other people, it's looking really nice!

A friend and I are considering getting a last minute flight out to Shenzhen and then a bus over the border to Hong Kong so we can go to Hong Kong Disney. Our silver passes came through a month or so ago as part of our employee benefits, so it will be free to get in. Flights to Shenzhen are much cheaper (about half) of that to Hong Kong because Shenzhen is still a domestic flight, whereas Hong Kong is international. The bus will only take an hour and a half to get us there though, so it's for the best. I looked into it a little and it looks like we'll be able to get flights and hotels for around £250 total, so estimating how much I'll spend aside from that I may be able to pay for the whole trip out of the money I have in my bank now rather than dipping into my savings. We'll have to see how much my bills come up to tomorrow though.

We haven't made plans yet as I wasn't sure if I wanted to go, but I'm meeting her to go pay our rent and bills tomorrow so we can discuss it then. Hopefully we can get something sorted out quickly. If so I need to nip to Walmart on the way back and buy a new little suitcase as I only have the giant one I brought with me.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

It's the final countdown!

Yesterday was kind of awesome, which I wasn't expecting for the week from hell. First of all it was my planning day so I had no lessons, making me predispositioned to like the day. Then we got in to the centre and the LLD was running centre meeting, meaning it was only half an hour long, and we were told that our free DVDs had arrived! Disney sent out a copy of The Avengers free to all cast members because it did so well in China. We also got a voucher from Disney for a purple box filled with different ice-creams from Hagen Daaz in honour of the moon festival, so now we're all going to find the nearest one to collect it from.

Another good thing is that we finally got some actual details on The Big Move, and had a chance to start packing things up. We can't strip our rooms bare just yet because we're still doing parent presentations, but I started packing up my cupboards. We won't be in on Monday like we wanted, but we should all be there by Thursday. The guy who handles center demolition and salvage came to have a look around yesterday. He's also the guy who helps to choose where the centre would be in the first place, so he has been the one getting it in the neck for all the problems. Our landlord has been out to screw us from the beginning, and you can tell he's angry about it. His job for now is to salvage or destroy anything copyrighted so no one can use it illegally, but we're also under orders not to leave anything that could be useful to the malls construction workers because of all the problems. We're taking everything, light bulbs, doors, the works. Given that our classrooms don't have any windows because of the problems it would cause reflecting on the projectors, that should be interesting for anyone trying to work int he space after we're gone, it's going to be a shell.

One presentation down, three to go, two in the next few hours, and I've developed a hacking cough just in time. Wish me luck.