“I like you, do you like me?” my new friend texted me, at least that’s what I thought she wrote to me. At this point I was just beginning to learn Chinese characters. I had met her the earlier in the week at the grocery store and was deciphering her texts as they came to me with the aid of a dictionary. Judging by the characters, she might have been telling me she liked me. I had to get out my dictionary to be sure. I slowly decoded the message, she was referring to herself and myself in the same sentence. Things were looking good. Unfortunately her question was not as interesting as I had hoped. She had written 我喜欢吃火锅，你喜欢吃吗？(wǒ xǐ huān chī huǒ guō, nǐ xǐ huān chī ma?) I like eating hot pot, do you like it?
Oh well, I had a new friend and I was learning lots of Mandarin. After lots of research with my dictionary I wrote back to her: 我喜欢，下次我们一起吃火锅吗？(wǒ xǐ huān, xià cì wǒ mén yī qǐ chī huǒ guō ma?) I like it, are we going to get hot pot together next time?
You may have thought about teaching English in China and you probably know a few people who have done it and a few ways it can be done. But you probably don’t know all the options that are available to you. The purpose of this post is to let you see the different organizations you could work with in order to teach English in China. They vary in the length of time, requirements, salary, and bonuses (i.e. apartment, plane ticket reimbursement). These are the key considerations when considering where to teach. Some schools want you to be present 40 hours a week, some schools only require you to be present 15 hours. Some schools require previous teaching experience and others do not. Some schools require a TEFL Certificate (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and others do not.
When I first traveled to China in 2007 to teach English for a year, one of my favorite actives quickly became taking a walk after dinner with friends and exploring the narrow lanes of the subtropical city we lived in. With a couple of lamb or chicken skewers in hand, we were set to explore the city for the night. On our nightly walk to the river that ran through the city, we observed the people around us selling clothes from carts along the streets and students playing ping pong in a park. Everyone was outside doing something (or nothing) and you felt like you were a part of it. One of the best things about China is that you can walk out of your door and everything and everyone is right there waiting for you.
When faced with what music to listen to in China, I have never been at a loss. TV shows, sure. I can count the ones that aren’t terrible on one finger. But with an array of pop singers, folk music in hundreds of the country’s different languages, national hymns (though the words can be obnoxious, there are some great melodies to be found), and plenty of choices for live music of all types in cities big and small, you might catch yourself whistling a popular tune while on a crowded city bus, even if you don’t know the words.
In order to escape the hubbub of city life I made an impromptu trip four hours to the north of the Twin Cities to a small, remote town on the south shore of Lake Superior. Having not traveled since returning from China last October, this was a much-needed getaway. The trip was also brought on by the desire to check out the nearby sea caves, which due to the coldest and snowiest winter in decades, had been talked up so much that tens of thousands of people were coming up on weekends to have a look, whereas in the past it’s likely been below one thousand for the year.
On the second day of shooting we planned to film all scenes with the main character and Bill, a middle aged failure in his home country of Australia, now making it as an English teacher in China. The shoot consisted of three different locations: the classroom from the previous day, some neighborhoods near the center of the old city, and some shots in Bill’s own bar (by coincidence, the actor and character share the same first name).
When I made the initial shooting schedule, I planned to shoot the most difficult scenes first (the scenes with the most actors and extras in them).
Before filming this most recent short film, I had a lot of doubts as to whether or not we were going to be able to pull the film off. Would I get kicked out of China for saying something bad about the country? Would people allow us to film in some of the settings I was envisioning? Would we be able to get enough help?
My most recent trip to Hong Kong included swimming at beach known as Sai Wan in the northwest of Hong Kong’s New Territories. Despite a little bit of rain, and no-shark-net swimming, there was still a good amount of sun and warm water to be enjoyed. None of the other twenty people swimming yelled “shark!” even once.