Observations on the Price of Beer, Bathroom Conditions and Classroom Behavior While Teaching in China

Observations on the Price of Beer, Bathroom Conditions and Classroom Behavior While Teaching in China

by Sean Reed, Greenheart Travel Teach Abroad Participant in China

Getting to China for my English teaching position was not that easy. It took 3 flights and over 20 hours of flying. I arrived in the Fujian Province’s capital city of Fuzhou (Fu joe) around 11PM Saturday the 27th of August. Immediately I realized how hot it was there. I mean it is hot in South Georgia too but it is a different kind of heat. To me it is more dry. I meet Helen, she is my school’s (Fuzhou #8 Middle School) contact person who is responsible for taking care of all of us foreign teachers. She arranged a ride into Fuzhou for me and had me dropped off at my apartment. Once there I saw that it was a nice looking one bedroom studio with a nice view of the city and an actual, “Western toilet,” that you could sit on. This was a huge step up from my living situation in the Republic of Georgia.

The next day I met Amy and Tess, the two other Greenheart Travel teachers that were assigned to my school. They had arrived in Fuzhou two days before I did. They took me to get my phone service and to show me around. The first thing I noticed was that there was a McDonald’s right down the street from my apartment. The second thing that I noticed was that it was open 24 hours a day. However, unlike the ones in Eastern Europe, this one did not serve beer (pea joe).

I spent the first couple of days in my new city getting my medical exam done and buying the things that I would need for my apartment, like beer. Right away, I noticed the price differences between China and the U.S. A beer only cost 4 Chinese dollars, which is about 80 cents in the States. You can easily spend 20-30 Chinese dollars on a meal which is only 3 to 4.50 U.S. dollars. However, some things are more expensive here then they are in the U.S. For example, Nike shoes are about 50 dollars more then back home.

We were invited to a dinner at the school prior to the first day of school. At that dinner we met all of the principals and the headmaster and some of the other teachers. We ate a delicious assortment of seafood (the big industry in Fujian). It was all very nice. Two days later, school started. My class sizes are any where from 25 students to 57 students and last 45 minutes long. I have found that most of the kids are well behaved and polite. Obviously, there a couple of bad ones here and there but good for the most part.

One problem with the students is getting them to stop talking. They talk constantly, and of course, in Chinese. I am able to teach my lesson and get them to be quiet when it is important but I have noticed a constant lack of respect. I believe that the Chinese students will never respect me as much as they respect their Chinese teachers. I suppose that is normal. Either way, I am very happy to be teaching here and proud to be involved in this experience.

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