Sorry New Zealand.

I grew up on the right side, politically speaking that is. My Dad was always the most vocal in our family, and my thinking would sync with his, cause I thought it was a well-known fact that ‘Dad is always right’. I am also privileged to come from a family who are financially better off than your average ‘Ma and Pa’. So the right side heavily influenced my thoughts about money and financial protection. I thought if you’re stupid enough to not work hard, or save hard, then it was your own damn fault for being poor.

 

The last New Zealand election, I voted National, the centre-right, and now dominant party in NZ Government.

 

I am sorry New Zealand that I did.

 

I have learnt, through watching some outrageous sufferings, that my family is in a tremendously lucky position (though my parents do deserve all the credit in the world for their hard work), and vast majorities of people worldwide are simply not afforded such opportunities.

 

I vow to vote with my own conscience now. No longer will I support –

 

Needless environmental destruction.

Needless child hunger.

Needless financial inequality.

Needless economic failures.

Needless Governmental restrictions.

Needless inequality amongst fellow beings.

 

No longer will I look at the colour of the flag, the smiles of the rats, the polished promise of change. I have seen flags burn, rats bite, and promises left in ruins.

 

I am angry at politics, but not angry enough to leave it up to others. Every vote counts, every voice counts. I have one year before the next elections to study up, before I will allow my voice heard again.

 

Next time, it will roar.

 

 

 

 

E.

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Is it cheating?

I started this blog with all intentions of it being filled with informative posts about working and travelling in China (specifically a run of the mill city named Shijiazhuang). The title is a dead giveaway to my former goal. It wasn’t meant to go further than that.

 

But.

(Always a but).

 

My plans have changed. I am now heading to Beijing for work.

And I am bored.

 

Being back home means technically I cannot write any posts with China in mind. I’m not there right now so how can I really give any advice about it?

 

And I feel if I don’t start negotiating my way around this literary road block I will most likely give up on this blog, and let it rot in some hell-hole corner of the Internet where it can make friends with Bebo and that meme we’ve forgotten about but used to be funny once.

 

I don’t really want this to happen. I want to keep practicing. And write weekly, daily even. Maybe a 30 day blog challenge. I want to write posts about more than my old ‘China life’.

 

I think, the question is actually ‘would you stick around if I changed things up a bit?’

 

 

 

 

E.

A simple plan for planning in China.

Step one: Say everything you are going to do.
Step two: Do the complete opposite.
Step three: Don’t tell the foreign teachers.
Step four: Profit. (Somebody always profits).

I work 27 classes a week, spread across a 25 Junior Two/3 Junior One ratio. By this logic I should have most of my work interactions with the Junior Two department. If anything is to change at the school, then a veritable team of teachers and leaders employed alongside me should be able to inform me of said discussions, yes?

Hahaha. Nope.

If you ever work in China, be prepared to redefine the word ‘communication’.

Usually communication means two parties exchanging or imparting information/news/ideas and so forth.

In China communication is….well…it’s…

We’ve recently had our timetable configured to the ‘summer’ plan. The change now means I start classes at 7:45am, and finish my days at 6pm. This started after our short holiday celebrating May Day (of which another post will be about). I know all of this because I was informed of this time change by one teacher from Junior One, not Two, as I would have expected. And I was informed, by China standards, on time.

Now there is such a thing called time in China. I affectionately label it as ‘last minute for everything’ time. Everything you think is important will be told to you. Just at the last possible second of its conception.

So my short lesson here is: when dealing with China, be prepared to have every conceivable Plan A you could possibly make thrown out the window, along with Plan B, Step Five and Preparation H. You must be able to adjust to this new ‘rush’ rather quickly, as China doesn’t care about that evening coffee you wanted with your friends, or your hair appointment, or if your fish needs watering. China wants everything done on its time, whether you can keep up or not is another story.

 

 

E.

“Ni hao.” “My knees are fine, thank you.”

Before coming to China, I had zero skills in Mandarin.

Z. E. R. O.

In New Zealand I was still riding the high from purchasing plane tickets, packing, and all round “adventure time!” I “knew” from the history books English was a powerful language worldwide, and the school I would be working at was very famous in the city for language development, so I thought, “hey this is neat, communication will be pretty stress-less, English is everywhere!”

In the first month I had three major breakdowns, all of them including language barriers.

Now I’ll stop here before you think ‘oh god I haven’t learnt anything either’ and say this post is not meant to dissuade you from moving and working in a non-English speaking country. Rather I want to tell you the most valuable word I keep close at hand (head?) whenever things start to feel out of control or above my understanding.

Adjustment.

(Hands up, who thought the word was going to be ‘change’?)

To adjust is to adapt or become used to a new situation.

Now for two short lists.

1. Things I quickly found different between China and New Zealand –

How being polite really works.
The amount of oil that is actually necessary for a human body.
The definition of hygiene.
Driving.
Life in every sense I had come to know.

2. Things I needed to adjust –

My mindset.

Once I adjusted my mindset, and consciously set my course to the land of ‘Culture Shock’, life became a whole new world again, as I started to train my brain to become bilingual. It was exciting to finally understand what the taxi drivers were asking me. It was exciting to learn that ‘careful’ translates to ‘small heart’ (which I find adorable). It was exciting to receive praise from my wonderful friend Lisa (a veteran in Mandarin, and someone who will be featuring a lot in posts to come) when I could figure out something obscure like ‘self help bank’ is ATM.

The adjustments will stretch further than the language. You realise that you don’t travel to experience what you know dressed up in faces you don’t. You travel to experience what you don’t know, dressed in the faces you’ve never seen. Now, you don’t have to let go of every ‘home ideology’ and change completely, but you will have to give up some areas of what ‘normality’ means to you. Yes, it will be difficult, possibly the most difficult adjustment you could ever put yourself through. But after releasing some of the ‘old’ the ‘new’ becomes addictive. You actively seek out adjustments. China is no longer to me a scary, backwards, disaster of turmoil and toil. It is an ancient wonderland, whose power is intoxicating and wondrous and unknown to many.

So I ask you, if you embark on any quest such as this, to always

Be curious.
Be thirsty.
Be not afraid of adjusting.
And don’t you dare close your eyes to any of it.

E.

Sidenote – there is a wonderful website Memrise worth its weight in Internets. A rare goldmine of language wealth, those who are aching for language skills should start here. Dedicate half an hour a day every day and you will be unstoppable.