Monthly Archives: September 2013

The good news.  We are in our new apartment and it’s not bad.  It’s a 2-bedroom but not as big as our apartment in Zhengzhou.  However, it’s quite suitable and it costs what our housing allowance is.  That is good.

It has an air conditioner/heater in the living room and in each of the bedrooms.  This is good.  It has a dining room with a table and 4 chairs so this is good.  It has a Western size refrigerator, which is good (and which we can stuff a few bodies in) which is a huge change from the tiny fridges we’ve had.  It’s about 6 minutes by e-bike from the school, which is convenient.  I really have no complaints about the apartment.

Wuxi is a decent place.  We live in the “New District” which means we’re about 45 minutes by bus from the center of town.  There are decent supermarkets to choose from (but all a bus ride away).  We can find a Starbucks and other assorted Western fast food like places.  They have Western style bars and pubs where I can get a Bloody Mary.  (See I’m being positive).

I know, you’re waiting for the negative.  However, what if there is no negative?  What would that mean?  It would mean I was dead and buried and some imposter is writing this.

Our first day at work was Friday, August 30th.  What did we do?  We sat there from 8AM until 5PM except for the 2-hour lunch (when I go home).  You have to show your face 40 hours a week.  I wrote to the company to tell them I would be much more productive at home and away from the school when I didn’t have classes and their response was to quote the contract to me.  Are they morons?  Do fish swim?

I teach literature so that means I have to print all the short stories and poems off the Internet, take them to the copy room, get the people there to copy them while I glue pages together (don’t ask), and then staple them.  I was stapling them at my desk and people were complaining.  I finished my job, said, “fuck you all”, and went home.  Making new friends is my first priority.

Gerry, a foreigner from California, was someone I thought I would be friends with.  I was wrong.  I was telling him about how they screwed up paying me back my airfare and then I said, “you really don’t care, do you”?  He said, “not really”.  He says the only time people are nice to each other is when they want something from the other person.  This is not someone I want to be friends with and I no longer initiate conversations with him.

There are 2 interns (young guys, one from the U.S. and one from England) and they seem like nice folks.  However, they are only here for 4 months.  The Chinese teachers aren’t exactly friendly so I don’t find it to be a comfortable atmosphere.  If it wasn’t for Shujie (who would complain and complain about moving again), I’d blow this joint.

They want lesson plans from me so I sort of ignore them and just give them a rough idea of what I’ll be doing.  Once again, this is not about education but about money.  This is a business.  No student will fail because if I give them a failing grade, the school will bump it up to a pass.  My Grade 12 Literature classes are a disappointment.  They don’t participate, they don’t listen, and they think they are so smart and so funny when what they really are is a bunch of jerks.

I admit I like my Grade 10 students.  Many of them make an effort and they show good taste in that I believe they like me.  I don’t have textbooks for them yet (this is China so why should we have our books at the beginning of the year) so I wing it every day.  I have 22 classes a week, 7 classes for each of the 2 grade 10 classes and 4 classes for each of the 2 grade 12 classes.

There are quite a few grade 12 students missing for the next month or so.  They are at home studying for the TOEFL (English literacy) exam and their SAT (which any moron knows you can’t study for).

I’m exhausted when I get home.  The days are long and I go to sleep early.  I’ve been too tired to even watch a movie.  The first week was 8 working days in a row (if you don’t work during the week because of a holiday or whatever, you work on the weekend to make up for it).  I have no life.  Get up, go to work, come home for lunch, pass out, go back to work, come home, eat dinner, and then try and stay awake until at least 9 o’clock.  I like staying up late to have “my” time.  This is not fun and I’m sure it won’t get better.

So why am I here?  That’s a good question and if I thought I could get a good paying job in Canada, I’d go back there.  Shujie wants to go.  She hasn’t found a job yet and as a 50-year-old woman she doesn’t really get considered for a position.  She looks and goes on interviews and meets a bunch of jerks.

Just this past Sunday we went to Suzhou (next city over) because I heard they had a bagel place there.  We went and sampled their wares and they weren’t bad.  We can order by phone from them and they will courier to us (for free!).  The original owner was a Canadian from Toronto who ran out on his rent, paying wages to his employees, and other debts.  Someone who worked for him as a translator and someone else took over and are running it as their business.  I wish them the best as they seem like nice people.

So, if you know of any high-paying, low-skilled jobs, please let me know.  I think I’m China’d out.  The only move Shujie will let me make is one that takes us out of China.  I came here for a change and to have fun.  Taking a high-school job for the money was stupid as I turned my back on money by coming here.  I should have stuck with University (less money but better students and better hours).

Maybe it will get better.  Maybe pigs will fly.  There must be some kind of way out of this place said the joker to Martin King.