10 day blog challenge!

The votes are in. If I continue to write (and have non-China posts) you guys said you’d stay for the ride!

Woot! Have a cookie.

I am taking baby steps and starting a ’10 Day Challenge’ because quite frankly there is very few material out there on the Internets for a ’30 Day Challenge’ which isn’t completely narcissistically driven, entirely self-absorbed drivel (ain’t nobody got time for that crap).

So the headlines for the next 10 Days (courtesy of http://blog.wendycphotography.com/2012/05/ten-day-blog-challenge-ten-reasons-you-love-your-job/) are:

10 reasons you love your job.

9 things about yourself.

8 ways to win your heart (ugh).

7 things that cross your mind a lot.

6 things you wish you had never done (ruh roh).

5 people who mean a lot (in no particular order).

4 turn offs.

3 turn ons (reowr).

2 emotions describing life right now.

1 confession (gulp).

Let’s get cracking then!

10 reasons I love my job:

Reason one: It’s new. Starting September I will be working at an art institute in the great city of Beijing. I have officially left my job of English Teacher in polluted Shijiazhuang, and am looking forward to a different flavour of smog in the big smoke capital of China.

Reason two: I will be surrounded by art people! This makes me immensely happy. The creative vibe will be buzzing 24/7 and I cannot wait to channel it.

Reason three: The art institute, also known as Kede, is rather rich. Think ‘we just built a brand new 3D capable cinema for our students to showcase their work because we can’ rich. The campus is also very gorgeous and well designed (very few hints of terrible Chinese architecture).

Reason four: I will be officially contracted to three working days per week. Hello free time, how you doin?

Reason five: The pay for such an absurdly low amount of work is actually real world money! And the location of the institute, being very isolated from the centre of Beijing, means I will actually save it.

Reason six: I am nowhere near finished with traversing the world, and being able to stay in China because of this job means I am a wee bit closer to every other country than NZ is.

Reason six: Networking potential in China is immeasurable. There is just so much happening here and I want to be a part of it.

Reason seven: I can continue learning Mandarin in an environment which will help me a lot more than NZ could. I really want this skill to develop

Reason eight: I will be working with someone I know, a radtastic girl from Iowa called Sarah (she will read this and probably laugh/accept me as the coolest being ever/laugh some more).

Reason nine: The institute has ties to international school such as New York Film Academy and California Institute of Art and Design (fingers crossed the foreign teachers can go on ‘school trips’).

Reason ten: I think it will lead to something much bigger for me. Don’t ask me what that is. But I have a hunch this could end up being much more than I expected.

E.

Advertisements

For everything else, there’s Mastercard.

When I came to China the process of legally entering the country, with the intention of working there, went like this –

1. An invitation letter/working permit from your employer was to be delivered to you (at the 11th hour I received mine and drove straight to the Chinese embassy for same day visa processing).
2. A medical check-up to the standard the Chinese Government wanted has to be performed (even though you are to have another one when you land in China anyway).
3. An up to date passport.
4. $200 NZD.

The first visa was relatively easy to acquire. You enter China with an ‘L’ visa, this is the tourist visa, and you have one month to change it to the resident visa or ‘Z’ visa. Your employer should help you with this and should pay for it (my school asked us to front the money which would then be added back to your pay at the end of the month, slightly annoying process but it meant less paperwork for them and in China that can mean a lot of time saved).

One small annoyance was that the new ‘Z’ visa expired after six month, whereas my contract was for a year. The official reason I was given was that Hebei, the province I work in, has very strict visa rules (especially pertaining to foreigners). My guess is that it’s easier for your employer to have a lot of leverage over you if your visa is so short and requires continuous renewing.

This leads onto my second (well, third) visa acquisition, the reason for this post, and what has been a huge headache for the past month.

Your visa is aligned with your employer, which makes sense, as they are the ones who employ you and house you in China. My first and second visa was with my former employer, Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School/43 Middle School. At the conclusion of one years work they offered us another contract. Before signing it I explicitly told the Foreign Affairs office that I had been looking for other work and that the visa paperwork should be a more open process so that, if the situation arose, I could pay for the current processing and transfer it to a new employer should it be needed.

Well I did get another job, at Kede College Art Institute in Beijing (and quite frankly one of the coolest employment opportunities I have ever had). Did my soon-to-be ex employer follow up with my initial requests? Hahaha, nope.

‘Apparently’ there is no paperwork that allows transference of ‘Z’ visas between different employers in China. Your visa is important for another reason, it’s the dates that you are legally allowed to be in China. My plane tickets had already been bought and paid for so 43 Middle School knew my leaving date (24th June) and knew my visa date expiration (15th June).

In a perfect world the scenario would’ve gone like this –

1. Erin gets a new kick-ass job.
2. 43 Middle School extend the working visa for eight days to cover my legality of leaving China/give me time to pack my things.
3. Z visa transference to kick-ass job in Beijing.
4. Sweet mental bliss.

In reality here’s how it went –

1. Erin gets a new kick-ass job.
2. 43 Middle School outright pulls my passport from the visa paperwork.
3. 43 Middle School says you have until the 15th of June to acquire an ‘L’ visa or you cannot live at the school anymore (huge hassle as I finished work on the 14th, not a lot of time to pack).
4. Kede College need me to sign the contract asap (travel to Beijing, sign four contracts, ask what paperwork is needed for them to start the ‘Z’ visa, siphon it via multiple emails).
5. Travel to Shijiazhuang police station to start ‘L’ visa process.
6. Need photocopies of my passport.
7. Travel back to school for it.
8. Need photocopies of my working permit.
9. Travel back to school for it.
10. Need bank statements.
11. Travel back to school area for it.
12. Need a release letter from 43 Middle School.
13. Travel back to school for it. (I love how the school neglected to tell me this part for the entire process).
14. Need photographs at a specific size of 48x33mm.
15. Collect all my strengths and deliver it to the police at the nth hour of processing application delivery.
16. Have a friend collect it for me the next day as I had to work.

However all is well now, and I can stay in China for another eight days before I vamoose back to New Zealand on the 24th June. Getting back in should be relatively easy, but I said that once before. Hope this information helps some of you who are considering moving to another country and need visa work for it.

E.

Job interview questions.

So I might be moving to Beijing.

 

And this thought (irrationally) terrifies me.

 

Update: I am progressing upon the idea of not working at 43 Middle School next year. I cannot deny that it has been a great learning experience, but the time has come for me to move on to something that gets me closer to what I actually want to do.

 

(I’m not sure exactly what it is I want to do, however a change of pace usually gets me closer to it; do not attempt to dislodge this logic as it’s all I have going for me).

 

I have had two prospective work places contact me so far. One is for a high school graduate training school in Shijiazhuang. The other is for an oral English teacher in Kede College, Beijing.

 

Pros for Shijiazhuang:

 

I know the city already.

The city is very cheap to live in.

I have friends here.

 

Pros for Beijing:

 

Hi-tech art school (with their own fricken 3D cinema mayun).

Two days work for twice the money I currently make.

Capital of China.

 

They both have their respective cons as well, but I want to look on the bright side of life when making this decision do doo bedoop bedoop bedoooop.

 

But I must pause on this discussion, and write the reason for today’s post:

 

Today I had to give a demo lesson to the job in Shijiazhuang. They gave me an elementary level book that they have in their curriculum (published by Oxford, so already very promising), and asked for a half hour lesson to be provided. So I biked over with a .ppt in my pocket this afternoon and showed them what I came up with. There were no students to test the lesson on, so I had teacher’s sit in and watch/discuss my methods and approach to the book. One teacher, and the main character of my story, was named Liam.

 

Liam arrived late (already promising) but was polite during my lesson completion. At the end, when we had time to discuss various points, he was very interested in listening to a native English speakers opinion to how the Chinese textbooks continuously have damaging English mistakes, which permeate within the entire English development of China.

 

Then this question appeared.

 

“Are you religious?”

 

While somewhat taken aback, I answer truthfully and said “No.”

His reply to sum up was “That’s great, most of China is not religious either.”

 

I have had this question before, and while it is a little rare it’s still something foreigners are expected to be asked once or twice in China.

 

Then another question, “What is your blood type?” Again a little taken aback I say “B negative.”

 

“B is what a lot of Chinese are!”

 

Ok this is getting weird. But then conversation resumes back to the job so I think the strangeness is over.

 

Alas it was not. The grand finale, complete with a dead-pan serious face, “What is your star sign?”

 

“Aries.”

 

“Ah, the fire sign, I knew it.” And he proceeded to rattle off the many reason he knew I was a fire type. (I didn’t know I had stumbled into Avatar). Then he asks, “What do you think I am, I’ll give you a hint, I am a water type.”

 

And so my brain, not knowing how to play this game, automatically things Aquarius, logic being aqua=water=correct.

 

“Aquarius?”

 

The look of sadness and horror as I said this to him is unbelievable, and hard to describe using the limited vocabulary I know.

 

“Aquarius is an air type actually.”

 

Well shit son, my bad.

 

/story.

 

So that’s a quick update about my brain. Chat to me, what school do you think I should look into? I’ll put on record saying I would be immensely happy with the Kede College job. My inhibitions are currently stuck in the whole ‘moving to another place where I know absolutely NOBODY’ phase. How do I get out of this, any tips guys?

 

Until next time, China you stay classy (and crazy).

 

 

 

E.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bittersweet.

“It smells bitter”.

These words were said by a Chinese friend of mine, well, technically she is my boss for a weekend job, but she is too chill to put into that category so I now upgrade her to ‘friend’ status.

“How strange”, I thought, “can you use the word bitter to describe smell?”
“And if not”, I continued, “What word is there to compare this scent?”

For two minutes I sat in silence in their car. Here I am, a native English speaker, perplexed by such a short, strange, statement.

This made me feel rather inadequate, as I am contractually hired to be an Oral English Teacher.

Uh oh.

As it turns out (agreed upon by a few foreigners I spoke too) the word ‘bitter’ is a little awkward to use when describing scent. The closest word we could think to use was ‘acrid’.

This is one reason I love working as an English teacher in China. The amount of strange English questions I encounter is fascinating, and makes me want to learn more about his language I’ve supposedly mastered. Yet, I feel sorry for the kids, as I cannot give them a proper definitive reason why the word ‘companion’ is better than ‘companies’ when describing the affection felt for a dog. I know that one word is correct, but I do not know why I feel it is.

How is it that I learnt English so well, but this school system in China is so inadequate? What did I do that was different? I wish I could remember. China needs this more than ever if it is to become a global powerhouse. They need people who understand intransitive verbs, and how Past Perfect tense expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past (it can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past). I enjoy my job immensely, but I cannot stay here forever, as I will be detrimental to the advancement of English is this environment.

I am paid to be interesting, and nothing more.

(However it is still a wonderful way to spend my early 20’s time and I couldn’t wish for a better experience personally).

What is your opinion? Do you think experiences in different job environments aids you? Should what you study be ‘the’ definer in regards to jobs you undertake, or should you look outwards? Can you really learn on the go? I’m interested in what you have to say.

Thanks again for reading.

E.

Job fairs, and opening my eyes to how big the world really is.

It’s the beginning of May now, which means my adventure in China is now approaching an end. My contract to Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School is almost up.

To be brutally honest, I don’t want to go home.

It’s not because I don’t want to see friends, family and everyone in between. I do, more than ever. But New Zealand is so, so small, and trying to develop any sense of identity and worth is difficult. It is also a relatively poor (yet developed) country especially after the global financial crisis, so earning money becomes a chore and not something to enjoy and develop within a career setting.

China however has proven to be one of the better decisions I have made in my short 22 years of life. Granted there have been unexplainable, almost breakable, points about it. It would take the rest of my life (and then some) to be able to give you a concise and accurate description of China, and even then it would not do it justice. Regardless of all this, I want to stay in China and ‘find myself’ in a more global setting.

Sarah, an expat better versed in the China scene, mentioned a job fair that was happening in Beijing. I had never been to a job fair before, and asked if I could come. Luckily for me she is a gracious individual (and possibly delighted at the thought of some travel company) so she said yes.

Catching the G train (oh NZ, how I wish you had such a magnificent rail system) we arrived in Beijing close to 11am. After navigating the subway using our paper maps and an app I downloaded (Explore Beijing) we arrived at the swissotel Beijing for the job fair relatively on time.

The job fair was specifically designed for foreigners in China and had ~50 stalls spread around the second floor conference room. Most were for teaching jobs through various universities, understandably. Others though were for marketing, finance, engineering and many other areas. I had no idea what to expect from a job fair and found myself quite unprepared for some encounters, especially regarding my outdated and unavailable CV (I managed to break the printer, whoops). I am definitely applying for the marketing and writing opportunities I discovered and left my contact information at, and have been re-designing/updating my CV today for further opportunities. Overall I found the day quite successful, and I now have a wider understanding about jobs, careers, and how to begin finding myself in such a large country like China.

Wish me luck!

E.