Mundane Update – the Daily Grind

Finally I have found time to update the blog! The English Department has had a busy week! We gave our final exam to some of our students and started English classes for our 4th group of students. In fact, starting tomorrow, I am going to be teaching Aviation English to part of the 4th class. This is new for me so I am trying to study up on aviation vocabulary.

Some more good news, DH and the other instructors who arrived around the same time as him, including the American T, have received permission to begin flying with their students. (They have completed all of their written and flight exams, passed an English exam, and received their license validation.)

We have been invited to a bunch of Christmas parties, including some at the Academy, some at local hotels and some at restaurants. I’ve never actually been so booked for parties before! Who knew I would have to come to China to be booked through the holidays with party invitations?

As for the weather, it just keeps getting colder. It has been around -5 to -10 most of the week. For you Americans, sorry, I just can’t think in Fahrenheit anymore! I’ve been living in the Celsius world too long now. Still no snow. This morning the sky was clear and blue with very little pollution evident. I’ve been told that it is just brutally cold in the airplanes. (Evidentally they have heaters but not very hot ones?) I’ve also been told that from the air you can also see that the lakes and rivers are frozen over.

My Chinese studies have increased three-fold. I am now doing a language exchange with two of the housekeeper girls at our hotel. They teach me Chinese and I help them with their English. I do that on Monday nights. On Tuesday and Thursdays, I have one hour of Chinese class with one of the secretaries at the Academy. In general, Chinese grammar is not difficult. They have only one verb tense – the present, and only one form regardless of the subject (I, you, he/she/it, us, y’all, they). The problem is the tones. One word has different meanings depending on how you stress it. You have a rising tone, falling tone, falling and rising tone and a high tone. Get it wrong and the meaning changes. Also, the romanization of the Chinese characters does not always sound the way it looks, at least to an American, so pronunciation is really difficult. I’m finally ready to learn this language, though. I have had too many frustrating moments where I cannot express myself, especially in taxis. I am ready to burst the language bubble!

I have been putting in really long days this week, way more than my supposed 4 hours. It’s hard work! At least at the hospital after a few 12 hour shifts we had a break of two to three days. I’m ready for the weekend already and it is only Wednesday!!! (I get “hump day” now.) I’m not complaining, I much prefer the normalcy of this kind of work!

Hopefully, something interesting will happen around here soon, so I have more to blog about than weather updates and work gripes!

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