Wow, it is so beautiful out today. I woke up this morning to warm sunshine pouring into my room from the sun porch. I stayed curled up in my bed for a few minutes then finally pulled myself out from under the sheets. As usual, I first checked Skype and Facebook to see what my family and friends were up to in the US then lumbered into the kitchen to make some coffee. This place is starting to really feel like home in so many ways. Allyson and I have quickly fallen into daily routines. We run almost everyday, unless we are invited so-notice to a dinner outing with new friends, and we normally explore at least one new street or shop every day. I started teaching this week and yesterday I had my second day of classes. At 8am, I taught my first Cultural and Society class. There are 76 sophomores in this class, all of which are English majors. After spending a day or two planning my lesson, it was such a relief to have eager students giggling and enthusiastically participating in the activities. As an introductory lesson, I had the students play a guessing game where each student thought of significant numbers related to his or her own life (my numbers were 15 for my soccer jersey, 2005 for the first time I visited China, 3116 for the number of songs in my itunes, and 3 for the number of countries I’ve traveled to) and then everyone tried to guess what each other’s numbers meant. The sophomores in this class got really creative and I even had one boy and girl put on a little play about their numbers. The whole class laughed as Tim reenacted the day he met his girlfriend. “Hi! Oh wow, you are beautiful. Can we fall in love?”
Unfortunately, my second class of the day did not go over as well. This Public Speech class consists of 86 juniors, all of which are enrolled in my Business English class on Monday’s as well. These kids were definitely not as enthusiastic as the earlier class and I felt like I was literally pulling teeth the entire session. I think it will take some creative and more organized lesson planning to get these kids interested. Though most seemed bored during class, I did receive a number of emails from the students later that day. One girl asked for help in choosing a fitting English name for her, another wished for a assistance while reading The Canterbury Tales, and a couple boys emailed me to tell me, “You are so beautiful. When I first saw you, I think of Serena – a girl from the TV show Gossip Girl. Here is my phone number. Can we be friends?” Ha ha I haven’t decided how to respond to those emails yet. I will definitely not be giving out my phone number to students though! The other teachers warned us to be wary of giving out our numbers because within a couple days, the whole university will have it! Renata, our wonderful “Older Sister” from Australia apparently made the mistake of giving her number to a police officer who texted and called her everyday!
Although we hope to maintain a semi-professional relationship with the students in our classes, we have already met some incredible students and colleagues that I am certain will become our close friends this year. Each new teacher is assigned a co-teacher to essentially babysit us while we work at the school. These co-teachers are usually Chinese teachers who teach English as well. I met my co-teacher last week and she is just a darling! Her name is Erin and she works with her husband, Ricky, in the English Department on the main campus (“An Gong Da” or “Anhui Gongye Daxue”). The couple was recently married in May and spent the summer traveling in Italy and Greece. Erin is beyond helpful and I couple her up multiple times a day. I’m scheduled to play basketball and soccer next week with Ricky and some of the other teachers and students. Can’t wait!
Last night was Allyson’s 22nd B-day and we celebrated with our fellow teachers Renata, Adrie, and Alicia and about 5 members of the university’s student union. The students treated us to dinner and we chatted with this lively group for hours. Scarlet, the only female student, was very excited when we asked her to take us shopping around the city. Washington was also excited to hear that we would play basketball and soccer with him and go on runs together. Mac our host and the president of the student union is a very intelligent guy. He is a computer science major and knows everything there is to know about apple computers. Why do you think he named himself “Mac?” The dinner was delicious and the conversation was great. The students asked us questions about the US and Australia and we followed with questions about China. It’s a crazy experience when people from different cultures come together like this. Just one more reason why we are loving this place more and more. Can you all believe that we have been here a month already??
Love and miss you guys! Here are some pictures of Allyson’s B-day cake (Mac bought it for her!) Whip cream frosting with TOMATOES on top lol