I’m almost 4 days down now and I feel like I’m beginning to find my feet. As planned when I arrived in Hefei (everything went to plan) I was picked up by a couple of the senior staff and taken to my apartment. My new flatmate had waited up late to greet me. We chatted for a while getting to know one another before getting some much needed rest.
The first morning I was met by Willene, a South African teacher who’s been in Hefei for 5 years nearly. She took me for a quick tour of the local area and introducing me to a few finalist Chinese sights. One of the first things I noticed was how there wasn’t actually a single foreigner in sight nor did many of the local people speak much English at all. In the afternoon I was met by Michelle, the human resource person. She helped me to register myself with the local authority and sort some paperwork. The intention for that evening was to go for dinner and meet more of the teachers from all 4 EF schools in Hefei. Oh how it escalated! Plates upon plates of my first authentic Chinese meal were followed by many crates of beers. We then took taxis to a local bar where more drinks flowed. It’s a regulation that new members of staff do not have to pay for anything for their first week or so. So a constant conveyor belt of ‘Stifler’s Mum’ cocktails was formed. With a regular edition of beer being donated by the Chinese drunk cohort in the bar! Dancing at a club followed and the rest of the night is rather hazy to put it lightly!
I was met by Michelle early again the next morning. I had a health check to attend. The Chinese do things slightly different in the hospitals. It was like a competition. How many rooms and different body checks you could complete in a time. Michelle was literally making me run around the hospital, once even with a test tube of my on pee…
She treated me to some breakfast for being so well behaved. A bowl of soupy noodles with a chicken leg floating about. Ever such a proper Chinese breakfast.
I went into school afterwards, where I was introduced to the rest of the staff members I hadn’t met already. A good mix of foreign and local Chinese teachers. Everyone was very friendly. My day consisted of observing a few lesson plans then helping a Halloween party to run in the evening. Steven and I grabbed some dinner and a much needed early night!
Saturday was to be my first full day in work. However for the first few weeks it’s very relaxed and I won’t be teaching, just observing classes while I wait for my intake. So a very easy day but to be honest I’d rather be chucked straight in.
The plan for the evening was to get pizza of which we didn’t, but similarly to Thursday we ended up out. My first expat bar experience. It was good to meet many new people who recognized (or didn’t recognize me) that I was a new white person and wanted to get to know me. I even managed to get involved with a football team and my first game is tomorrow. It was a late one and my flatemate/child minder Steven heard the phrase ‘just one more’ too many times.
Today is very much of the same, observing lessons and generally trying to look busy when I literally have nothing to do. I’m looking forward to my official welcome dinner tonight of which I have heardthe aim will be to get me as drunk as possible on an infamous Chinese drink called Bi Jou…