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Worry Wart

So in general I may be happier. The kids are still putting a massive smile on my face, I’m still considering either coming back for a second year or going home to study teaching, and I won’t ever regret coming to China. This doesn’t mean, however, that I’ve been able to completely leave behind my worrying ways.

On thursday I’m having my teaching observed by one of my programme coordinators. In theory there isn’t anything to worry about. I taught the same lesson once already to my Monday 6th grade class, and it went fine, although it was a little short. My kids have already been told that they need to be on their best behaviour, and really the observation is for my own good, giving me pointers and suggestions to help with my teaching. Logically, I have nothing to worry about. Last night, however, I spent the entire night tossing and turning, having nightmares about lesson plans and observations and failure. Every now and then my dreams would provide me with something I thought I could use, and I would be like “Ok, I’ve got that sorted, now let’s get some real sleep,” only to stir from sleep another half hour later with the same dreams. They weren’t even providing anything useful! I remember going down a long white corridor… Pretty sure it was my sleep muddled brain just making weird excuses for that being a valid lesson plan haha.

Anyways, I need to find a way to relax. Although I love my job here, it’s obviously stressing me out more than I had realised, and I need to get on top of that. I want to start planning my lessons further in advance, making them longer so I won’t run out of activities, using some of my own topics rather than just teaching topics from their textbook, creating some continuity between lessons… I’m sure that if I dedicated myself to this job 100% I could be an outstanding teacher. And I do want to be a good teacher. However, I’m in China, and I want to spend some time making the most of my time here too. I also want to be able to keep up to date with my favourite tv shows, keep in touch with friends back home, have some relax time, keep my dorm clean, be able to read enough that I can stay afloat in the book club I’ve joined, keep going to Chinese classes and have time to study too… I love it, but life here can get a little hectic if I let it… Just this weekend I have a halloween party, a lesson brainstorming meeting, an invitation to go mountain climbing, and lesson plans for 6 grades to write… Alongside daily chores like cooking, doing laundry, going to the supermarket… All of which takes up time!

What I really need is better time management skills and the self control to get into a good, productive routine.

Any pointers?

Turning my life around, one day at a time

Look, I’m still here!

I’m sure I’ve said this many a time before, and I’m sure I will say it again and again throughout my future, but I’m on a newly found mission to turn my life around. Oddly, I’m doing this at a time when I’m happier with my life than I have been for some time. Perhaps this happiness is motivating me to find new, longer lasting satisfaction with this life?

What’s happened recently in my life…?

I broke up with the previously mentioned man. This I am most happy about. I’ve cut down in junk food, and have started cooking more nutritionally sound meals. I tried going to bed early, but it was such a shock to my body that it ended up being a particularly late nap that resulted in a largely sleepless night. Will work on that :D I have started trying to fill my spare time with reading and studying Chinese, rather that watching an episode of something online…

And now I’ve decided I’m at a good place to start forming some healthy habits. I’ve written myself some daily rules, such as a regular time to wake up, daily exercise, walking down to the lake for my lunch break instead of watching tv or napping, planning my lessons in advance instead of the night before class…. et cetera. I’ve also started reading articles about self improvement online. I know people generally don’t look at self-help enthusiasts in a great light, but I have a secret love for this sort of thing. I never implement even close to half the things I read into my own life, but even if over the course of 5 years I can improve one single thing in my life due to something I’ve read, then I consider this to be successful. What have I got to lose? It’s gotta be better than watching hour after hour of Game of Thrones…

And so, starting now, I’m on a mission of self betterment. Let’s see where this goes…

Uncontrolled Enjoyment

Life’s been different since I moved to China. “oh, that’s natural in a new place,” I hear you say, but I don’t mean the different routines, food, lifestyle etc. The difference is that I’m happy. Not that I was unhappy back home, but life had lost it’s excitement and I ended up dreading going to work, going to the supermarket, even leaving my bedroom to go get food from the kitchen. But here…. there’s something different.

Sure, getting up in the mornings can still be a little hard, and my eating habits haven’t improved much, but I’m enjoying what I’m doing. At school I walk around smiling, saying hello to the students, being nice to people… I come home with a literal grin on my face… If I leave the school grounds I smile at the guards with a cheerful “ni hao!” and again smile at the people staring at the blonde girl walking past them… In fact, I don’t know if I’m necessarily smiling at them, rather than just smiling in general. This sounds super weird, I’m sure, but I’ve seriously never spend so much time with a smile on my face ever.

Sometimes I get weary, and can’t be bothered with people… but then I get a visit from one of my students in my office, or see a cute wee kid playing on the metro, and I get set off again. The world is a beautiful place :D

Controlling the Kiddies

So I’ve been a teacher for all of about two months. I’m neither trained nor qualified, but here I am, in charge on 50 kids per class, 18 classes per week. It can be a lot of fun, but it can also be exhausting, emotionally draining, and at times, just downright depressing. These kids speak very little English, and my Chinese is far worse.. They can’t even understand my explanation that we are standing in silence because they wouldn’t shut up for 2 seconds to hear me ask them to be quiet, or to give them instructions for the next activity. Sometimes, I know they are entirely capable of understanding and successfully completing an activity, but they don’t even believe in themselves enough to listen and find out what it is they’re being asked.

Today I told a boy he was in group one, as I was diving into groups for teams, and he replied “I don’t know”. I said thats ok, and took him to sit with group one. He sat down, and said “I don’t know, I don’t know”. I said ok, because really nothing needed to be further explained, and continued to divide people into groups. As I made my way around the classroom, he continued to yell “I don’t know!”…. Had he taken three seconds, however, to look around and realise the whole class was being divided into four groups, he would have seen there was nothing more to it, he was in group one, and that was that. He didn’t yet need to know why, or what he needed to do in his group. A little part of me wonders if he was just asking me this to annoy me, and for his own entertainment.

Day in day out I have these mini battles with my students. I confiscate drawings, novels, homework from other classes, footballs, paper airplanes, toys, lasers…. All manner of objects really. I just wish I knew how to gain their attention for long enough to convince them that they are indeed capable of telling me their birthdays in English, of splitting into teams for a game, of telling me what they would buy if they won 1 million yuan… Some classes go wonderfully, delightfully even, and I walk away unable to wipe the smile of my face, and I’m proud of being able to successfully teach these young people something; other classes I wonders why I’m here at all, I could be doing headstands in front of the class and still nobody would give me a second glance. Sometimes teaching is really draining.

And so, a plea to the teachers of the WordPress world: what advice can you give me? What are your classroom management tips, how do you capture a students’ attention and imagination, and how, for the love of all that is good, how on earth do you get them to be quiet!?

Rediscovering Motivation

Sometimes I look back on being a teenager. I wasn’t a particularly happy teenager, I didn’t have more than a couple of friends, and I was incredibly solitary, spending hours and hours, day after day alone in my room with my angsty emo music. I was interested in self harm, and I had a strong desire to rebel, which was only hindered by an unfounded fear of my parents. However, I was also incredibly fit, I had an outstanding attention span, and I can only imagine that with all that time spent alone, my patience must have been incredible.

Let’s compare to the Emily of today. I have a few more friends, I’m still pretty solitary most of the time, and I no longer inflict intentional harm upon my body. I still treat myself to the odd depressing tune, and my rebellion has surfaced in an insatiable desire to roam the world, much to my mother’s disapproval. However, my attention span struggles to cover a whole episode of my favourite television shows, my patience is close to nil, and my body… well, it’s seen better days.

What confuses me, is that despite my happiness levels being considerably higher now that I’m nearing my mid twenties, it was during my angry, depressed teen years that I seem to have been the most productive. Where did I get the motivation to attend 6 hours of dance class a week, or work for hours on scrapbooks or drawings or whatever else I did in those years locked away in solitude? Currently I hardly have the self control to eat three meals a day, or to go out for a drink with friends, or prepare for the work week ahead.

What have I lost along the way?

I’ve been absent for a while

The last couple of years I’ve been pretty slack with this blog. Busy with university, life in general… And when I do get on here all I seem to do is complain about my love life. Once upon a time I was proud of the posts I was writing on here, not necessarily because they were excellent quality, or of much value in particular, but at least they contained intellectual thought, a reflection of my views on the world and how I was dealing with this experience we call life. Now, I am ashamed of my recent posts.

I almost feel as though I have lost the ability to write, the passion to question life, the motivation to stand up for my thoughts.

I’m starting again. It may be ¬†painful at the beginning, and I apologise to anyone who accidentally stumbles across this little corner of the internet that I call mine, but hopefully, with time, it will improve. Surely I can train myself into thinking and questioning everything in this world, rather than accepting it at face value. Perhaps acceptance is easier, it creates less friction, less conflict, but what is the point of having a functioning, analytical, curious mind if we don’t make full use of it.

And so, with any luck, I’m back.

Story of my life..

So, here in China, there is a man who I have been seeing. It began on the 8th of August.. today is the 26th of August, and my curiosity got the better of me and I asked about our status, and whether we are calling this a relationship. He didn’t reply… or rather, wouldn’t reply. I don’t know what that means, but it makes me a little sad.

I really like this guy. He is a total nerd, and he laughs at the lamest stuff, and he’s super hairy, and infuriating, and a bit clueless at times… but he is also a sweetheart, and super lovely, and rubs my leg under the table, and holds my hand infront of his friends, and hugs me in public, and listens to my music, and puts up with my insanity, and talks to me on the phone, and asks me how I am….

<3

I wasn’t sure how I felt about him, but in the last few days I realise how happy I am to have him around, and how much he means to me, especially in the strange situation in which we find ourselves here in China.. He doesn’t care that I’m a bit of a nana when it comes to going out, or that I’m maybe a little chubby, or that I get super sweaty in the China heat… He isn’t bad in bed, he’s a pretty good kisser, and I love so much when he sneaks his arms around my waist. How often is it that you find someone who really just accepts you for who you are, good or bad..

And now he won’t agree to being my boyfriend. That makes me sad. Does he not feel the same about me? Or is it still too early on to expect him to make that sort of a decision.. I realise the 8th was less than 3 weeks ago, but we have seen each other almost every day since then so we know each other reasonably well, at least enough to know whether we like the other or not.. I don’t know… I don’t know. I want to call him mine.

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