Clockenflap. Whaten-flap?!

[PICTURE: View of the stage through the umbrellas]

Clockenflap. What a name. I first heard of this festival back in September, when the legendary Die Antwoord were down as headliners. Now, if you’ve never heard of Die Antwoord, I’m tempted to say, don’t go in search of them. Please. Nana, Gran, or anyone else, please do not listen to their music or, heavens forbid, do not watch their music videos. Just know that they’re a really weird messed up music group from South Africa that have a cult following. They also made an appearance in the movie Chappie, which, I think is the only suitable place for you guys to whiteness them. So, when I heard that these crazy b*stards were playing the festival, I stored it away on my list of things to do: book tickets to Clockenflap 2016.

Candice knows of the band, she knows them more than most I’ve met, and even introduced me to them in a way. So she was my first port of call when thinking about a festival buddy. But, unfortunately, due to work etc. as the weekend came flying into view, we realised it wasn’t going to be possible for her to make the trip. Plus, tragically, Die Antwoord pulled out of playing the festival for unknown reasons. [Rumours are they’re in the process of making a new album.] With crazy work and my new life here I slowly forgot about the name Clockenflap (hard to do…) and went about my normal life. That was until, Nick, a Kiwi in my grade, mentioned in passing that he would be requiring a morning of “sick leave” on Monday 27th November. Please bear in mind that he stated this at the end of October. With a sheepish look on his face, and a sweeping hand motion that asked us to move on the conversation, I held him back after the meeting and asked what fun “sick leave” inducing activities he Continue reading

Bright Colours and Beer…

[PHOTO: Taken from the huge wall sized window in the communal room of our “hostel”]

So, if you have me on ANY social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Wechat, WhatsApp etc…), you can probably guess what this post will mainly be about.

Work has been non-stop and as crazy as ever. We start to get the hang of our curriculum and the weekly routine, and then BAM a new thing is dropped on us and we’re expected to fit it into one of our five 35 minute lessons a week with the kids. I’m quite enjoying it though, I feel very fortunate I’m in Grade 5 and not in Kindergarten like the rest of my pals. But this isn’t a post moaning or groaning about work… this is about my weekend trip to Shenzhen!

At 11.50am Friday afternoon, I made a mad dash from work, to the bus stop and waited for Kyle, Kim and Danielle. We all headed to Subway (not the healthiest, but definitely the quickest) and grabbed a quick lunch. Kim was hanging around the free WiFi until 1.11pm for the massive Taobao (Chinese version of eBay on steroids) “single-day” sales. Single day is on the 11th of October (the 11th month) of each year, and it’s basically like the western black-Friday times 1000… I left her and Kyle there, munching on their free cookies and hopped on the bus heading back to Dong Yuan (East Garden). It was so cold for a couple of days last week, Friday it was down to about 14`C, bearing in mind less than 2 weeks ago it was 34`C… So back to my little apartment I went, and had probably the most productive lunch break of my life. I did all the dishes left over from cooking the night before, I did a load Continue reading

Transformation: 25th Oct Prompt

[Photo: Taken on Monday 24th Oct while sat wating for the bus heading to Dong Yuan at lunch time. Within 2 hours the weather transformed from this bright blue sky, to heavy dark and angry storm clouds that drenched the gardens.]

So this one is a few days behind. Transformation was the word prompt for October 25th. Today; the first day of me sitting down to attempt this post, laptop on knee, Tom Petty singing about losers and American girls, cuppa to my right, is October 27th. I used to do a “prompt a day” a couple of times a week when I started this blog, but, at that time I also had more spare quiet moments at my desk with not much to do. Things have changed. Things have…. Transformed. I’m sorry, that was cheesy, but I stand by it! A friend who is currently up to June in trawling their way through my long winded and self-absorbed posts mentioned that they miss when I used to “explain my idea of stuff”. Meaning, they liked the posts where I take this one word, the selected jumble of letters that WordPress presents us with each day, and run with it. Sometimes I run head strong in one focused direction, other times I may as well be trying to dodge bullets with the amount of zig-zagging and tumbling over myself I do while trying to explain my thoughts and feelings of the word. I noticed this word pop up in my inbox a couple of days ago and it’s been on my mind since. So here we go…

Transformation – 

  • a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance

  • a metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal

  • the induced or spontaneous change of one element into another by a nuclear process.

Shamefully, one of the first things that pings up into my mind when I read this word is not the incredible journey a caterpillar embarks on during its life. Nor is it the leg sprouting, tail loosing changes a wee little tadpole goes through to become the frog. No. My first thought was: #TransformationTuesday. It pains me to even admit that and see it here in my ever growing Word Document that I type my blog post drafts upon (currently at 74 pages; 40,000 words). Yep. A bloody hashtag about body changes, diet achievements, when puberty hit hard to a lesser than average looking kid etc. is what I think of when I read those 14 letters strung together. Maybe that’s an embarrassing and awful insight into my social media habits and slight addiction (which, I must admit, I’m slightly getting over). I recently posted a somewhat #TransformationTuesday post myself, except, it was on a Sunday. I’ll start by admitting how much I wasted a perfectly good weekend. Did I go out and explore my new surrounding some more? No. Did I go and Continue reading

5 Days off, 2 days out…

[Picture: as mentioned in a blog post way back in May/June, I collect things. All things. So, this is my mini collection of tickets and cards etc. from the past couple of days. Don’t they look pretty!!!]

How lucky am I? Shamefully, it’s only hit me today just how fortunate I really am. On Monday 3rd, I decided I wanted to go to Hong Kong to see Candice, Julie, Richard and Katie. Wednesday 5th, 11am, I was on the ferry at Shunde Dock on my way. How many people can say that within 5 days they can decide to go to HK, get tickets, get a ferry, be there for 2 nights, and be back home in their pj’s by Friday? Not too many (apart from the billions of Chinese people who do it every year…)

Country Garden School broke up for the holiday on Friday 30th September; a lot of the teachers had pre booked tickets to escape the crazy mad rush of holiday tourism over the Chinese break. Myself and my friends however, (Danielle, Kim, Kyle, Collin, Becky, Gabby and Cassie) had not done this at all. Each of us had our own reason for not planning a trip away; whether it be lack of money (yes us Worlda employees are STILL waiting for our first pay check, only 13 days to go…), lack of passport (visa changes etc…), or simply the fact they wanted to relax or explore the area we had all found ourselves dumped in. I spent Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mainly with Danielle hopping on busses, going to markets, ending up in various shopping malls, and just generally wandering around (somewhat aimlessly) working out the surrounding area. We headed to Guangzhou on Saturday and Tuesday, Saturday with 2 other Kindergarten guys, and Tuesday with Kim and her Dad who left pretty soon after we arrived. We ate some great food; hotpot, Muslim rice, Italian, questionable Chinese food and much more. Friday night we had a nice chilled evening at Kims watching the first half of the extended version of The Fellowship of the Ring (I forgot just how bloody long those films were) with some pizza that Continue reading

3 Days of Week 3

[PHOTO: A page from my sketch book that I did while playing around with watercolour back in Dulwich]

Yes, this is week 3 of working at the school… how has that happened? Ok so Week 1 only consisted of 2 days, and Week 3 ended on Wednesday (yesterday), but still, this year is going to fly by. I left the UK 22 days ago, which also means, it’s been 22 days since I had a cup of tea… That is NOT OKAY. Once I’ve typed this up though I am going to head to the nearest coffee shop and see what I can do to change the lack of tea in my life.

This week was only 3 days long because it is Mid-Autumn Moon Festival here in China, the festival that celebrates and remembers a woman who was sent to the moon by her lover and she lived out the rest of her life there with a rabbit. No joke. It is celebrated by eating “moon-cakes”, which are not as fun as they sound. But, I’m in China, so I must respect and accept their culture and festivals, plus, anything that changes a 5 day week to a 3 day week is ok by me!

Last night I was introduced to a new kindergarten teacher, Danielle. She’s having to crash in Kim’s spare room at the moment because her apartment contract fell through due to the fact her landlord refused to provide her with working AC, which, let me tell you, is no luxury here, it’s a daily necessity. The rough average temperature has been about 33/35’C, and obviously, being in a sub-tropical climate, it’s humid as hell. I think I’m Continue reading

Yay for small victories!

[PHOTO: The coolest pencil sharpeners I’ve ever seen, property of class 512]

So yesterday morning, while listening to Slaves (a British Punk-ish band) on my iPod waiting for the bus in the rain, I was trying to think of what I could write in my next blog post. My plan was to simply focus on the small “wins” I’ve had throughout the week, the small wins definitely make up for the other crap we have to deal with in China. So…My list of small victories this week:

  1. I now have WiFi in my apartment!
  2. I bought an actual bowl, not a plastic tub
  3. I had my first warm shower (after being told for a third time how to use it)
  4. I hadn’t been late for work once
  5. I was prepared for all my lessons
  6. I’ve finally remembered some of my kids names
  7. Yesterday it was finally an ok temperature so I was able to wear my hair down
  8. I had taken the correct bus all week
  9. I had used my dining hall food card for the first time

This changed slightly yesterday morning. While I was thinking up this list, and listening to some angry punks in my ears, I hopped on the bus and ended up, not at school, but at the Traffic Centre on the outside of the Country Garden Community (as I did on my very first day at CGS). I got cocky, I got confident, and China wanted me to snap out of that right away. So, I had to wait for a while longer, and shamelessly show the driver my phone which I had previously got a friend to send me the Chinese for: “Does this go to the school?” He nodded, I got on, and at 7.25am I arrived at school.

Yesterday I was determined to try and minimise the amount of work I had to do on the weekend by taking full advantage of my office time between 2.30pm & 5pm. I got all my lesson plans written up for the previous and current week, and I arranged a time to sit down with another Grade 5 International teacher to go through exactly what is expected of us and how to use the many many documents I had been given. Sadly, Meghan, the head of Grade 5 International teachers is having to go back to America for roughly a week due to a family emergency. So myself and the other 6 international teachers of Grade 5 are having to scramble together and try and work it out on the job. We’ve been left without a leader for Continue reading

On the up… 3rd Sept

[PHOTO: Primary Sector building of Country Garden School)

I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon, from the dining table of my new apartment. No I haven’t actually signed the rental agreement contract yet, I’m not too sure what’s going on there… No I don’t have internet installed, and yes I have got 4 new air-conditioning units just chilling in my spare bedroom (check me out with a whole extra room!) But it’s mine, mine for the next academic year. I moved in on Wednesday with nothing but clothes, a bed sheet and a towel to settle in with.

The past few days have been such a crazy whirlwind of information, emotions and just general chaos. 2.40pm on Tuesday 30th August I conducted a phone/video call interview with Jane from Guangdong Country Garden School – Primary sector. To say I was nervous was an understatement. That whole morning I’d been going over everything I may need to say or answer in my head, but nothing seemed to stick, and when David sat me down with the phone in front of me, and pressed the big green flashing Accept Call button, I was completely blank. I had no idea what was going to come out of my mouth or what I was going to be asked of me. I’d vaguely been asked to lie. Lie about my teaching experience and the age range I’ve dealt with. That I was NOT ok with… I said this to David before he answered the call, and he simply sighed, looked worried, and said; “Just go with your gut.”

So I did, and after a 10 minute chat, with a few technical issues along the way, I was asked to pass the phone over to David, and she said she looked Continue reading