First Post!

This first post comes a week (-ish!) before my departure to China to teach English for a year. ‘ish’ because, despite being only a week away from the commencement of my employment at Foshan elementary school (1st Sept.), I remain without either a plane ticket or a visa for China so I don’t really know exactly which day I’m leaving. The purpose of this post is to get everyone up to speed. If everything goes to plan there will be plenty of people following this blog who don’t know what I’ve been up to so need the lowdown on what’s happened to date.

This drawn-out process all started when around December last year, Amy Lewis told me over Skype that she was dead set on teaching English in China for a year and ‘did I want to come?’. I had met Amy the year before, during our Erasmus year in Bologna. A mutual love of all things classical (Greece and Rome etc.) and a lot of time to kill between intense, incomprehensible lectures on Latin and Greek poetry in Italian meant that we were bound to become good friends or get bored of each other’s company very quickly! Thankfully the former was the case!

This first suggestion of going to China by no means sealed the deal. The decision to live so far (in distance and culture) from home for almost a whole year with no prospect of returning before the year was through was a hard one for me to make. In the end I was convinced by the opportunity to discover a new culture and the prospect of travelling in South-East Asia (we are allowed 6 weeks break for Chinese New Year!). Also, the teaching experience and the chance to learn the most spoken language in the world would be sure to stand me in good stead in future life. I was also reassured by the fact I had already experienced life abroad, albeit not so far afield as China.

The ins and outs of the application process are far too dull to describe to describe in detail. Suffice it to say I knew roughly when I was going to travel in February, and still I don’t know the exact day! It’s been an exercise in banging heads against walls! In the mean time I’ve had the small matter of a degree to finish (2:1 in Classics at Newcastle for the record)! I also did a 4-week CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) course. A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification became required by  law in China long after I had applied to teach English in China; it was only by good fortune that I had already enrolled on such a course!

The CELTA course I did was in Brighton – special mention to James Greveson-Hickie and co. for putting me up! It was a very rewarding 4 weeks blighted only by the fact I had to work! It was very intense month that induced much stress but left me enriched in friends, teaching skills and some remote idea of how I am supposed to go about teaching a classroom of Chinese children English!

As if I didn’t have enough to be getting on with this summer, I’ve also had a crack at learning some Mandarin. Foshan is in fact a Cantonese speaking region. Despite this it was still more worthwhile learning Mandarin as this is the official language of and so is spoken by (almost) everyone in China whether or not it’s their first language. I have had weekly lessons in which I have barely scratched the surface!

Foshan, the city in which I’ll be teaching, is a small city by Chinese standards. A mere 6 million inhabitants! It is very close to Guangzhou (known as Canton where ‘Cantonese’ cuisine is from) which is the capital of Guangdong province located in the South East of China. Wikipedia has plenty to say about Foshan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foshan

This is the first of many posts. I intend to update the blog at least once a week keeping you all up to date on my experiences in China. I hope you enjoy reading this blog (I’ll try to keep it as interesting as possible!). If ever you want to contact me directly, just e-mail (chrisedis@hotmail.co.uk) or skype (chrisedis) me.

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