In early September, I went to Tianjin for about a week to visit friends and do some work on a project I'll be helping my old department complete this year (organizing some training videos for teachers). Matt couldn't go because his job had already started.
It was so great to go back to Tianjin and just enjoy the time hanging out with people without any looming deadlines, classes to teach, or homework to grade! I went to my old school most weekdays since I could more easily see friends and former students there all in one place, and it was such a welcome change to be able to hang out in the cafeteria through all of the lunch periods and just eat and chat! I almost never had time to eat lunch in the cafeteria when I was working there, so it was a nice change of pace to be able to hang out with people whenever I wanted to.
Even though the time was refreshing, it was quite busy. So many awesome people to hang out with and great food to share together! :)
Also, the next day after I returned from Tianjin, I had my first meeting to learn about the details of my new job. I met two other American teachers, a husband and wife, who just retired from teaching in the US and came to China for a post-retirement adventure to teach here. All three of us will be teaching the same courses this year and collaborating on curriculum, so we met together and talked often during the two weeks before school started so we could develop a good plan before the beginning of the semester.
Then, last week, I began my first week of teaching. I have three classes, all of post-graduate students working on either their master's or doctoral degrees. They are all studying non-English topics. Just a few examples of their majors are Marine Biology, Law, Chinese Literature, and Food Science and Engineering. I'm teaching two classes of International Conference English (teaching them how to prepare and deliver a presentation at an international academic conference) and one class of Academic Writing (teaching them how to write a research paper in English).
So, altogether, I have three groups of students to work with, which doesn't sound like a lot, but the time spent with them is a full load of teaching (university-style load, that is. It's still way less busy than middle school teaching!) I'm with each class for four hours straight. It can be pretty tiring for the students (and me), but so far, I've worked in enough interactive activities and changed up the pace enough that my students have seemed very engaged and alert in spite of the four hours of class in a row.
I've also agreed to take on an extra class outside of my regular contracted hours because it's a bi-weekly oral English training class just for a small group of staff members at my university. That's the type of teaching I enjoy the most (oral English and teacher development), so I thought it would be a nice extra thing to add. Sometimes foreign teachers are asked to tutor little kids of staff members or other less enjoyable work for me, so this was a great extra class to add. The best part is that as part of the class, we should have small group free-talk activities. So, tomorrow, six of the staff members will come over to our apartment for lunch and games. Matt and I are really excited to get to know these staff members better throughout the semester. So all in all, a great extra job!
Today, I finished my second week of teaching, and now the October National Holiday is here, so we have a week off with no classes. Three friends are coming to visit us from Tianjin, so we're looking forward to having a relaxing week with them.
Also, since the holiday is coming, I'll post more later on my teaching blog about how things have gone during my first couple of weeks of teaching.
But for those who don't care about the details of teaching, this hopefully at least gave you a picture of what life is like for me now that my job has started. Maybe I will convince Matt to do a quick update about his new job since he also has the week off next week :)
Until next time!