Travel Page by Planet Ranger
Home search About Advice

Travel Page

Sarah's Wild Escapades

Hello! Nimen Hao!

I'm teaching English to Chinese 8th graders for the British Council in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, just outside Shanghai. If you need any info about this area, i'm your girl. Here you can view my progress as a teacher, in a strange land, by myself (and yet not), in my first full time job!

Look inside for more.....

Diary Entries

Monday, 06 July 2009

This trip is officially over!

Until my next whimsical escapade!...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Location: Santa Rosa Bataan, Philippines

Woop WOop

I'm still here in my aunty josies place. Im really loving it here, espcially the philippines i really dont want to go back to china! for a week! its too loong, ive been considering ghetting a later flight back to china but i can't let my friends down who have made plans for my final weekend and week there in china!! even though i'd much rather be here! OOOOh

I feel so at peace here its unbelievable, i just want to go back to england and skip out the china bit-its way too stressful!!!! and lonely!

But nevertheless i've really enjoyed it here and as always its unforgettable. i'll miss everyone and everything..until the next time!!

Ah China has been such a nut case on my head! Im glad I did it but I did NOT enjoy it! It was like a rite of passage I had to go through to get me here on the other side of it!! haha

Onwards and upwards I say...

Oh on wednesday might appear on a philippine tv show called wowowee on the channel tickets to join the audience yesterday. went to manila with aunty josie, surprisingly relaxing day considering its one of the busiest and notoriously stressful cities in the world!! Went on the MRT (train in manila) and took jeepneys, tricycles. Saw auntys old place of work:PLDT and where she used to go! Went to the central church, always a great experience, but didn't go inside..
I've had a cold/cough for the last few days, been taking cough medicine, its slowly getting better. I think it's the change in temps (rainy season) and the pollution here at auntys place-all the cars/bikes on the main road - the petrol pumping into the house 24/7, as well as me sitting in uncles motorcycle shop a lot which is right on the road side!! good times

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Location: Balanga, Bataan, Philippines

Yes, i'm in aunty josies place using the internet! Just chilling out really, its a bit rainy but hot. But its a lot less hot here than in San Fernando (uncle ador's house!!)
Went to Manila yesterday. Can you tell mum if she is gonna ring me or not? Managed to get a ready made toga, maybe get the hymn book next week-just the book not the music right???

Yeh just generally relaxing really, not doing much other than talking and eating!!
I just wish i didn't have to go back to china first!! And worry about getting all my luggage to the airport in shanghai! I bought a hand carry luggage on wheels...

i guess that's it for now

Monday, 15 June 2009

Location: San Fernando, Philippines

Hey Hey Hey
In Phils!!!!!!!!!!
Work is over
still some problems over pay back in china
but i'll smooth those over when i return
its really hot here!
Staying in Uncle Adors place
will see grace today hopefully
Aunty josie picked my up at the airport
she wasn't too late

will go to aunty josies tomorrow

saw aunty chel last night

maybe get my haircut this evening.

ask mum for my new phil number.

Monday, 08 June 2009

Location: China

I didn't tell you...
Last week in my Number 30 Middle School I was asked to attend an assembly.
I did not know what it was for, until the day I was to attend.
I was also told on that day I was to give a speech! So i had to write a quick speech in 5 minutes!

The assembly was for the grade 8 students (2nd year juniors) to enter into the youth league and out of the young pioneers. This is a chinese tradition for young people. Most kids are young pioneers, for this they have to wear a red scarf (which you may have seen school children wearing) this represents China's long history and the blood shed in wars of the Chinese people. Only the best kids can enter into the youth league, and this can happen at the age of 14, once in the youth league they no longer need to wear the red scarf, and so the scarf represents a lot. Once entering the youth league they need to pledge an oath to it's flag and sing its anthem. The assembly i was attending was the ceremony dedicated to those new students entering into this youth league. I have some photos. I was also made to go to the front along with the principal and another woman and they put a red scarf on each of us. And then I had to make my speech. Basically I had to talk about going into adulthood etc, so I talked about that, and what I said was translated into Chinese by my work colleague. I didn't have much to say and I was just talking a load of sh** anyway so they thought I was nervous. Anyway it was interesting to see!

Monday, 08 June 2009

Location: China

Oh to be home where things are simpler....
there are some disputes here over pay, nothing to worry will all be resolved soon! At the moment everything seems a little chaotic yet calm! A few days left here before Philippines, to finish my work and get ready to leave. I am extra anxious to get all of my fun activities done with my classes this week, as well as to finish examining them. This is a high priority for me as I will miss them so much and want some good photos of them before I go. Because it's the last week a lot of events are happening, farewell meals etc, a rush to get things done before people leave and get some closure. So not much time to do a lot this week! When most weeks I have too much time! Oh the irony.

China in a nutshell - chaotic yet calm
An eerie calm that is only skin deep, you feel if you dig a little things will be unsettling...I am never reassured by this calmness-it's too calm, like a hushed calm, not a calm because it is chosen. A calm that's forced? A calmness you don't choose to have, you just have to have!? Curious
Anyway this eerieness is doing my head in...I just want some reality and yet I can't seem to see it here..just pretend everything is OK and things will be!? That's what this year has been for me, I can't speak for others or for the Chinese (even though I have been increasingly mistaken as being Chinese to this day-I can't seem to think of myself as a foreigner often times-i don't even have any Chinese blood in me) Just pretending everything is OK, that is what i have been doing and will continue to do to live here. I can't explain it...yet i'm here wanting to go back to normality! Just to breathe some reality, and know that people are being real to you and that there is no facade there.

I am sad to go yet am not getting emotional. I think this is encouraging my anxious mood. The last time I will see my students, and I don't know what to do, I will have the class and then I won't see them again, just as memories and in photos .I don't know what to say or do. Sometimes nothing should be said. I said goodbye to one of my schools this afternoon. I did not get sad, but I felt there was an undercurrent of saddness. Yet I did not know whether I should show any sadness, and i think my school felt the same. I will never go to that school again and see any of the people again, it is sad and yet I am not showing it. Should I? Will this cause some withdrawal when I leave this place? I don't want to be sad! But should I? Just to have some closure?

I am packing today, and I feel exhilarated, and yet melancholy. I am packing a box which I will send home before I leave. I hope I can take all I want to.
What makes it sadder is I feel I will miss my students more than they miss me. They are young and so won't keep in touch through email etc. They all hoped I would stay in China and teach them next year. But alas I will be in England. That is OK with me but it's just this initial separation that's hard. I have been with these students for so long, and really grown to like most of them. It's a shame I may never see them again, or know what will become of them!? sigh
is it like this for every teacher? Am I being melodramatic?
I have been making the most of my weekends in Shanghai, but this is another thing to miss when I am back in England. I know this is all a part of life, and the latter I can handle better leaving, but the students is more difficult. Like I see what I will miss and yet they won't. haha craziness
Sometimes it's just easier to GO, not all of these farewells-I don't want to think of what I will miss!!!!!!!!
A crazy life

Sunday, 07 June 2009

Location: Suzhou, China

Had a fab weekend.
Now that my time here is ending i'm finding i have more and more time to myself!
Did karaoke (again) last night, the best so far thouggh! Danced and sang my heart out, and so we all did! I did blur-beetlebum all by myself (no one else knew it) haha

Before that I went boating in the park, very relaxing in the mid day sun! I hope to have photos on facebook soon.

Time here is ending so soon it's scary! Not before a break in Philippines though!

Wednesday, 03 June 2009

Location: Suzhou, China

Photo's from the month that was:

English Teaching:



Sunday, 31 May 2009

Location: Suzhou fresh from Beijing, China

Just had a crazy wild whacky weekend in The Bei Jing! It was four days because it was the dragon boat festival on thursday and friday...went with a friend from church, Shiella and her friend Tom and stayed with her friend Kimberely in Beijing.

Absolutely gorgous weather there! Came back to shanghai and its grey wet and miserable! But dry hot cool in beijing.

We went to the great wall- the easy part which i enjoyed immensely! Went to a dingy KTV at midnight to sing! Ate sichuan spicy fish! Went to the gourgous summer palace, which we didnt see all of but what i did see was amazing and romantic!! Went to tiananmen square and forbidden city (again), went to the famous wangfujing shopping street and also the snack street with the bugs on a stick-which i ate (yes I DID!!!) well just two fried bugs! HAHA fear factor eat ur heart out! And last night we cooked in the apartment and had some of Kimberlys and Toms friends over and had a little house party! An array of foods! 3 chinese dishes, a malaysian curry (kimberly is malay chinese) adobo (Filipino pork-shiella's creation-my friend from church) and i was lazy and made a crap fruit salad! the guests brought more fruit and cakes! Im very lazy to cook-ive cooked too much in my life! after eating we had a little dance and shinnanigans until the security knockd on the door bcos we were being noisy neighbours!! After that we played truth or dare until 4am! All of this with no alocohol, I think the best way to have fun!! HAHA so pure :P
I was very excited to play it because I have never properly played it-especcialy with boys, but i knew more on how to play it than the others bcos im western! I was very enthusiastic but the bottle hardly every went to me!

Anyway I won't go into details on the truths or dares but it was fun..especially now that im single! ;)

Oh yes and how could i forget...i saw the long awaited birds nest at night! and the water cube and other buildings in the olympic area-very beautiful but my camera does it no justice! HA dropped my camera for the second time in beijing-this time in the summer palace! First time in forbidden city, 2nd in summer palace! Beijing wants to kill my camera! well it is a pain now! Slow!! Must invest in a new one!

Well I will miss these good times when i leave china...but i don't think there is a big enough reason for me to stay....

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Location: Suzhou, China

Well my time here is nearing an end
Feeling optimistic and nostalgic
Trying to relax and take as much in as I can even though I can't wait to get away from this place!!
This week are my final lessons with my students, even though the next two weeks I am just examining them. Also Its a very short week, monday I was sick from the weekend, and tomorrow i'm going to beijing for a long weekend because it's dragon boat festival and there's no school.
Been chilling out in shanghai which is much easier to do at my friends apartment because then i have company, can forget about work/suzhou etc and just chill out filipino style! Anyway back in suzhou now, for one more night this week!
Not much more to say.....
Had a farewell party for me and a few others at church on sunday. It was really fun, with a little bit of karaoke and filipino food and speeches and cards. really nice to hang out with filipino ppl.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

My Photos

May Day Weekend:

This weekend:

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Location: Suzhou, China

So, spent another weekend in Shanghai. Very eventful and tiring. On saturday went to the shanghai science and technology museum in Pudong. It should've been more impressive than it was, at 60RMB. It was a little disappointing but interesting to see how the chinese use technology! They had different sections, eg, body, robot, space, animals etc. The robot things were very monotonous and scary! But good to see all the same!

After that went to KTV with my friends, 2 from church, a friend of a friend, a filipina and her chinese friends, and a chinese friend of a friend and a malay friend of a friend! It is so rewarding doing karaoke when I actually succeed in pinning the vocals exactly! I did Kylie's Locomotion to a T, and everyone else was dancing to it! No one else really knew it as well as me, so I was really lucky that the vocals suit my voice. Some songs I can know really well but cannot sing because my voice does not suit the tune!! You really have to come and try KTV. It is really easy to sing because its a semi dark room with just you and your friends and a few microphones so ur not alone singing. It is the best way to do karaoke i think!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Location: Suzhou, China

Well things are getting interesting
scorching hot! lorraine if u read this i got ur txt, just nt enough money to text u bak! i love this weather. i really miss it when its not hot! its been 35 degrees! been in shanghai all wkend, staying with a church friend. did karaoke last night and filipino food feast. very good night! good days ...

OK this is just thoughts but maybe i will come back to china if i find a good job for sep/oct this year. And postponing my studies for one yr. it will be in shanghai, because suzhou is boring! Anyway i havent looked into it yet so its just thought at the mo. dont panic!

Anyway....i dont know what more to say...same old really....quarter life crisis? Or maybe im just lonely...

Monday, 27 April 2009

Location: Suzhou, China

There really isn't much time left here at all.
I only have to plan two more lessons, after that it's revision lessons and then exams!

Some more photos:
especially check out the sushi here:
and tongli:
and grand prix:

how's the swine flu? I hear it could be pandemic!! None here yet

Friday, 17 April 2009

Location: Jiangsu SUZHOU, China

Another Day Another Dollar

I think I will miss my classes, not just some of the students, but also just having classes and teaching. After a while it's a job where u just get to talk and be enthusiastic, and with the good classes this rubs off on them. And having a job where having enthusiasm even when you're tired is needed I am perfect. The only trouble with being a teacher is you have to have the bad classes too-the ones which dont want to know anything and dont respond or are just truant/talking to their friends. And this is why I don't want to be a teacher, you can't pick and choose your classes, and usually you are at one school for a certain amount of time. This, I would find boring. I like change, being enthusiastic to some of the same faces, but also to new ones too. This refreshes the brain and makes life feel more worthy. I don't know if this is the same for everyone or just me.

Anyway, Lorraine if you read this: Will you be coming to see me? I think it's getting late if you are. So maybe not. Also if you haven't already sent me a parcel, don't because by the time it gets here I will be leaving! Just give it to me in England!

Tomorrow is the Shanghai Grand Prix. I'm worried because of my ears, and I always have trouble with my ears. People say you need ear plugs, I don't have any, I hope they sell them there. I also hope it doesn't rain-fingers crossed for me! And look out for me on tv. Henry if you read this: can you tape it for me?

I managed to watch the first episode of the apprentice last night, through youku. It was good quality too. But I can't find anymore of them. I miss that show!

This morning I did Tai Chi. I am getting better at it now, perfecting the moves i've learnt. I now know to do it slower and less fast. It's more relaxing that way anyway. I now do it with one other male teacher who wants to learn it. The PE teacher is very good, can't speak a word of english but still very good.

Only two more months of classes. I still don't know what to do in the few weeks I have here before my flight to UK. I am thinking of fitting in Philippines, Thailand and Kunming. Maybe that's a bit ambitious. Right now i can't be bothered to travel anywhere!

Today I did my lesson on the royal family and family trees. I showed them my family tree. They are all very surprise at how many bro/sis i have. Also they also didn't know that grandfathers father is great grandfather, and they love saying it, espec great great great grandfather! It's difficult teaching them niece and nephew! They are such weird words! Some of them know nothing of the royal family in England, but a few usually know Queen Elizabeth, in Chinese they say her name Elizaberth. They are always shocked at how many children are in their family/my family, because they are all mostly only children in their family!

Previous Diary Entries

Choose a date from the menu below to view older diary entries in a new window.

Photos - Click Below

Leave a Message


Email (optional):


Travelling Soon?

Get Your own Planet Ranger Travel Page. Click Here

Recent Messages

From L
You still on the same flight back to the uk?

Response: YEP!!
From Henry
Hi Sarah!

Wear earplugs tomorrow or you'll seriously damage your hearing! One f1 car at donnington was bad enough, but imagine 20 at full pelt! I will record it for you, a good excuse to test my recording freeview digital on my pc. You should definately try to fit in all those travels before you leave. I will be dissappointed if you don't! If you need some £/yuan that I owe you to help you travels I'm sure I can find something.

Have fun tomorrow, I'm jealous.

Response: Haha! Yes i'll be there!
From Helen
Hi Sarah! Glad the weather is warmer, and loking forward to seeing you when Laurie and I come over in May. Where did you go to lake recently. Was it Hangzou? We are still planning our trip. Certainly want to explore the gardens in Suzhou. Sounds beautiful. Enjoy the Grand Prix. Take care!
Response: Hi Helen, thanks for the msg! I went to a lake near hangzhou, but its not the famous west lake in hangzhou - i haven't been there yet. Yes I am looking forward to seeing you then! Take care
From From Dad,Friday
Hi Sarah, Nice to see the weather is improving for you,and Spring is starting. Over here Spring is sort of beginning, brighter days but still quite chilly winds, and still frosts most nights. The 1911 census records have been released on- line, three years earlier than planned. The ferocious public appetite for researching family trees, fuelled by programmes such as the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? The overwhelming demand resulted in the earlier-than-scheduled date, with teams working flat out for two years to get records digitalised. They somehow slipped through legistration that allowed no breaching of the 100-year embargo. The 1921 census results will be the last to go online for a generation, and they will not be opened early.
The 1931 records were destroyed in a fire at Hayes, Middx. in 1942, though not caused by enemy action, and there was no census in 1941 because of the second world
war. Anyway, we now have a few more details for our family history. ( good !) We got your large letter from E.Anglia University today, I think Henry told you. Anyway, Mum is going to send it on to you. Glad to see you are getting on well with your classes, but try to get plenty of rest when you can. Take care and keep well.
Love and best wishes, Dad
Response: Thank you Dad. That is good news about the census! Hope more relatives can be found!
Take care
From Oli&Lolly!
Hello all in fili! Wish we were there!
From Oli&Lolly
Happy Christmas Sarah!
Response: Thank u! Happy new year!
From From Dad,Sunday
Hi Sarah, If you are thinking of arranging some Christmas songs for your pupils, how about trying-------

Dash-ing through the snow,
In a one-horse o-pen sleigh,
O'er the fields we go,
Laugh-ing all the way,
Bells on Bob-tail ring,
Mak-ing spir-its bright,
What fun it is to ride and sing
a sleigh-ing song to-night.

Jin-gle bells, Jin-gle bells,
Jin-gle all the way!
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse o-pen sleigh!
Jin-gle bells, jin-gle bells,
Jin-gle all the way!
Oh, what fun it is to ride
in a one-horse o-pen sleigh!

Or how about----------
1) On the first day of Christ-mas,
my true love sent to me,
A partridge in a pear tree------
2) On the se-cond day of
Christ-mas my true love sent
to me, two tur-tle doves and a
a par-tridge in a pear tree.
3) On the third day of Christmas
my true love sent to me,three
French hens,two tur-tle doves
and a par-tridge in a pear tree
4) On the forth day of Christ-mas
my true love sent to me, four
call-ing birds, three French
hens, two tur-tle doves,and a
par-tridge in a pear tree.
5) On the fifth day of Christ-mas
my true love sent to me five,
gold rings, four call-ing birds,
three French hens,two tur-tle
doves and a par-tridge in a
pear tree.
6) On the sixth day of Christ-mas
my true love sent to me, six
geese a - lay-ing,five gold rings
four call-ing birds, three
French hens,two tur-tle doves
and a par-tridge in a pear tree
7) On the seventh day of
Christ-mas my true love sent
to me seven swans
a- swim-ming, six geese
a- laying, five gold rings, four
call-ing birds, three French
hens, two tur-tle doves, and
a par-tridge in a pear tree.
8) On the eighth day of Christ-
mas my true love sent to me
Eight maids a- milking, seven
swans a- swim-ming,six geese
a- laying, five gold rings, four
call-ing birds, three French
hens, two tur-tle doves, and
a par-tridge in a pear tree.
9) On the ninth day of Christ-
mas my true love sent to me,
nine la-dies danc-ing, eight
maids a- milking, seven swans
a-swimming. six geese a-laying
five gold rings, four call-ing
birds, three French hens,two
tur-tle doves,and a par-tridge
in a pear tree.
10) On the tenth day of Christ-
mas my true love sent to me,
ten lords a-leaping, nine
la-dies danc-ing, eight maids
a-milking, seven swans a-swim
ming, six geese a-laying, five
gold rings, four call-ing birds,
three French hens, two tur-
tle doves, and a pat-tridge in
a pear tree.
11) On the eleventh day of
Christmas my true love sent
to me, eleven pi-pers pi-
ping, ten lords a-leaping,nine
la-dies danc-ing, eight maids
a milking, seven swans a-swim
ming, six geese a-laying, five
gold rings, four call-ing birds,
three French hens, two tur-
tle doves, and a par-tridge
in a pear tree.
12) On the twelth day of Christ-
mas my true love sent to me,
twelve drum-mers drum-
ming, eleven pi-pers pi-ping,
ten lords a-leaping, nine la-
dies danc-ing, eight maids
a-milking, seven swans a swim
ming, six geese a-laying, five
gold rings, four call-ing birds,
three French hens, two turt
tur-tle doves,and a par-tridg
in a pear tree.

If you would like the music
as well,I can easily down-
load it for you, or if there
are any other Christmas, or
other music or words, let
me know, we have a good

All the best of wishes,
love from DAD
Response: thank you for your help. i might use some of that. its ok u dont need to download anything, i can find it on the internet.
From From Dad
Hello Sarah, Again, very interesting letters from you. You are composing very clear narratives of your experiences, no difficulty in understanding them. I like the idea of special lessons with music. Have you got any actual music or scores? as you know, I have plenty of music here, if you can think of any suitable let me know and I will down-load them for you, I am sending you a sample with this letter. We have plenty more- such as-" Mairzy Doats And Dozy Doats" (Mares Eat Oats and Does Eat Oats), and lid-dle lam-zy div-ey , A kid-dle-y div-ey too, would-n't you? Yes? That
one may sound silly, but it is rather fun. Or how about some serious ones such as" When Will they Ever Learn", or "You'll Never Walk Alone". The one I am sending now is from "The Sound of Music". you already know that one. My goodness Sarah, I really do wish I were there to help teaching, I would be absolutely in my element, I
think it would be like taking a duck to water. At present time Kenny is away in Desert-Lands, no doubt enjoying every minute, and this last weekend
Henry had two pals stay-over, you remember Chris and Matthew? Made a nice change for Henry. My books have now been delivered, very, very,
interesting. I have plenty of reading to do now. Superb!
Will close for now, best wishes
and love, DAD

E.mail song following.
Response: Thanks for the music. I'll look into using it next time. I think soon I will be doing a special lesson on christmas, and maybe use some christmas music. Yes I think you would love doing what i'm doing, maybe do it better than I am! I think you would also be very good at disciplining (the part i'm not very good at-but getting better!) Have a good time with your new books, Sarah
From Henry
mp5? KTV? they're so advanced in china!

I'll have to make sure I let my hair grow Bruce
Lee style for when I come out!

I'm guessing you can't get 4od or iplayer in china? there's a new series of the IT crowd that's hilarious.

I'd love to share a place with you if I end up working in London, but I hope it won't be as expensive as you paid for your last place! Don't commute if you can help it, you know what that's like.
Response: ahhh IT crowd, I must see that. Yes no 4od or iplayer but youtube i can! Also surfthechannel is good. And the reason i'm thinking of house share in london is because it's cheaper!!! I wouldn't be able to afford what i used to pay, i will skrimp and save with no loan! and yes maybe the kids were joking but they said mp5. And ktv is karaoke TV. Any other new programmes showing now? Like peep show or harry hills tv burps? New never mind the buzzcocks? QI? Apprentice?
From Henry
Don't worry, I'm still reading your blog. Its great bedtime reading - sends me to sleep every time! ;-p only kidding!

It's very interesting, it makes me more eager to visit and see china myself.

Not much to tell from back home.....erm.....nope.....erm....well you can imagine! Just anxious to get a job and get on with my life!

Hope you are well, and Dan too. Charlie says "slap those kids into shape!" (I'm sure he doesn't mean it literally)

Response: haha as if Charlie would say that! Only when he's copying u!!! I wish I could've filmed that! And u better be reading, otherwise i'll come back and tell ellie to beat u up! haha

Yes u should come out here, I wanna see everyones reaction to seeing the reincarnated Bruce Lee. I don't care if u don't have a job, rob a bank or something!
From From Dad,Tuesday
Hi Sarah, Very interesting !, your thoughts and comments on China and it's peoples. You have hit on an exceedingly unique and complex subject. You are very fortunate to have realized it whilst being there and working amongst it's people. By a coincidence, I have also been taking more notice of China and her past. At present time I am awaiting delivery of some books on it's history, geography, education. One is all about the first emperor and his times. I am looking forward to reading it. A report I saw from education assessments over here. about the grades of different ethnic school pupils (I don't like using the word ethnic myself to describe people, but it is what the authorities use) The report states that Chinese are quite well up the grade ladder, especially in mathematics, and west Indian and similar are way down, but they excel in sport and manual activities. But of course, China has always been noted for it's Intellect and wisdom. I expect you may have noticed, how quickly some of your students pick up on their lessons. You were mentioning about the back-door aspect, it is more or less the same over here, only it is a bit more discreet here (the old school-tie class thing and who one knows (for instance if I would need a reference, like my old school head-master or Sir John Willoughby). I do not think that you knew, when each of your brothers applied for Hitchin Boys school, they asked for references, we gave the Raffells, Jack Raffell being a local councillor and Martin a Bank Manager, and both my cousins were pupils there. And of course, there are the Free- Masons, who are incidentally a world-wide fellowship, more than likely in China also. In my view, present-day Chinese history is like teething troubles, and China will come out of them stronger and greater, and I believe she is destined to be (and well on the way already), the finest civilization in the world. And Sarah, you can take pride in the fact that you are there helping to shape history, even in a very, very, very, tiny part. I personally wish I too could be there, helping in the growth and development of this great and beautiful country.
Not much news here at present; as you know, Henry is still at home, which is company for me. Our weather is very cold, slight snow early Sunday morning and frost at nights this week, proper winter now. I expect you have similar. Tops, the cat, has taken it on himself to sleep with me, he seems to think I go to bed to hibernate, the only trouble is, he keeps going out and leaving the door wide open, I have to put a box behind to stop him opening it too far.
Anyway Sarah, take care and best wishes, Dad
Response: Yes that sounds very interesting Dad! It's good Henry is there, especially for a bit of variety in the house. And the Chinese, especially overseas Chinese are incredibly good intellectually, and probably push their children to be the same in their schools. But I have found here, that as in any country there is the same spectrum of intellectuality in the students. You have the kids who are quick to pick up on things, and work very hard, but also there are kids who do not care, or just don't have it and are interested in non academic things. But yes I agree that the majority of Chinese who have travelled overseas, are very intelligent (they are there for a reason) and equally push their kids in the same manner. But yes they are very serious to do this, whereas other nationalities may not push for this so hard! If you think about it, if all the Chinese in China were like the students making the good grades in that education assessment report you read, then I wouldn't need to be here teaching spoken English. If you see my meaning; nearly no one that you meet on the street/shops/schools can speak English, but those Chinese in other countries obviously can, and very well as they often have high up jobs, and so their children will also probably do well in school. I hope that makes sense. And i agree with you of what you say of China's future. It is a very interesting issue and I hope to learn more!

The most interesting thing I can take from teaching so far, is how much the students are similar to students in the UK of the same age. I expected they would be nothing alike, but quite the opposite! They may not be as disrespectful as teenagers can be in England, but they are just like them. I have a really really cute class, but other than that I have the top students in class 1 and 2, they get progressively worse going down through to class 6. There is bullying, hyper activity, testing the limits. I don't know if you would have expected this, but I thought that they would be a little more passive, and not so moody. Anyway, make sure you keep me updated, I like your long messages! Take care and keep well.
From Lorraine
Change your body language and look up how to project your voice (google it!). Also maybe try sitting them boy/girl and rewarding the good students, the bad ones will soon start behaving once they think they are missing out! Be positive, but firm (not stern), like animals kids can smell fear a mile off! Good luck.
Response: yes good idea about boy girl., they do hang about in there own groups (boys versus girls) Yes and rewarding, maybe sweets? argh and fear! i hope i have none of that in me, maybe i do!? Thanks lorraine!
From Lorraine
Great treat to get those pics! Lovely!
From Henry
Looked at old stuff. Took photos. Stayed well away from beer and women as you'd expect. ;-)
Response: ha!
From Lorraine
Pics of Ellies pics please :)
Response: o0oh ok
From Henry
Thats funny that u have to wrap up in class - is there no heating!?!

Ah, so your having self criticism meetings / denunciation meeting then...hmmm remember wild swans :-o

Sorry about the xc thing, of course its worse for you converting back to £, but your not earning to spend in the uk! its all so confusing with xc rates when currencies are so unstable now.

Prague was incredible, a beautiful city with beautiful people ;-p. Very touristy, but not like London, they all seemed to be central / eastern europrean tourists. Its very cheap if you stay away from the tourist hot spots too. Less that £1 a beer, and £3 for a delicous czech meal.....mmmmmm, dumplings and cabbage. And thay have lots of absynth too! - Still feeling the effects.
Response: No heating, but it got a bit warmer today. Henry! What do u get up to!!??
From Henry
I just think hehe is just a little bit more evil than haha!

isn't 11 yuan to £1 better than 7 a £??? yep, the pound is worthless now, please send your earnings to the uk! ;-p

Ellie drew from a photo of you, she is getting very good. As for the writing, she can sound out short words, like your name, but with a whole sentance you have to give hear a clue every now and then, but shes getting better at spelling all the time.

I always knew tuna and pasta belonged in a resturant! Bet it doesn't match my homemade variety, or smell as unapetising!

Sorry to hear about your train journey. If it makes you feel any better, it took me 5 and a half hours to get from east midlands airport to kimpton today, and most of it was waiting in the cold! (should take about 1hr45)
Response: oh! what's with you and waiting in the cold for hours, that scenario seems to follow you around in your life!! 11 yuan to £1 is not good when i buy things, i mean yes it's good because my pay is equally more, but it just doesn't feel good spending £5 on shopping when it used to be £3.50! Really it doesn't make much difference to me because i'm paid in the currency, but if you were to come here with £££ then yes it's bad! and that's so sweet with Ellie! How was prague?
From Henry
Response: what's wrong with you?
From Henry
You hear about US news in China? thats amazing, hehe.

Lookin forward to seeing photos of Xi'an. I'm off to prague in the morning!
Response: yes US is big news here, it affects china massively! and since when did henry say hehe! i cant even imagine it! will put photos up shortly! have fun in prague - i want to see photos!
From Helen

Hi, Dan's Mum here. Just to say that I am enjoying reading your news, and its great looking at the photos. Particularly like the latest ones of Lingshan - amazing Buddhas. We hope to come out next Spring, so these little insights and photos are nice tasters for us. Good luck with the teaching - sounds as if it is quite taxing but a great experience.
We had a very pleasant time in Spain a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed the last of the warm weather. Clocks have gone back now, and much colder so lots of cosy evenings by the fire. I still have a lot to do for my studies, but with luck will have finished before we come over next year. Take Care. All the best. Helen
Response: Hi Helen, nice to hear from you! Wow, you went to Spain, i'm so jealous - it's very cold here now.
Yes, China is beautiful, I will be adding lots of photos so keep looking! Wow, you'll have your studies done soon, that will be a great achievement! Good Luck, say hi to Laurie for me. Take care, Sarah
From From Dad,Tuesday
Good Evening Sarah, Just a few words tonight to let you know of your parcels progress. Mum has packed it today, she said she knows about the weight. and she hopes to send it off tomorrow. About the Ginkgo tree, were there any notice-boards telling of its history? You must take a photo if there is, Ginkgo Biloba is the sole survivor of a family of trees which flourished 200 million years ago. If you look closely at its fan-shaped leaves you will notice they have needle-like lines which are from their ancient ancestry as needles, They are in fact classed as conifers even now. We have specimens of them over here, but they were I believe found first in China,which is why I am interested if there is a notice, to see how old that one is. You will hardly believe it, but just as I was about to finish and send this message last night, we had a power-cut, everything went off,even the street lights,that was about eight in the evening,the lights have just come on again at about half past two today. So we had no heating, no hot drinks or cooking, nor T.V. Also, just before the Power-cut we had a surprise snow -storm,three to four inches, and then it froze all night, I have only just come in from clearing the footpath etc. I thought I had lost your message last night but luckily it came up alright just now. Anyway, all for now. Love and best wishes, Dad
Response: Oh that's good. Isn't it a bit early for snow? Wow! It's very cold here! I hope to get my parcel soon. I didn't take a photo of the sign of the gingko tree, next time i see one i will take a photo. I hope you are well, take care. Sarah
From From Dad
Good Evening Sarah, Noticed your new messages this afternoon, sorry to hear you are feeling so tired. I think that in a month or two when you have got into a sort of rhythm with your teaching, like any new job you will find it all falls into place and will come natural to you, and you will suddenly realize that you are really enjoying your work. I know myself from experience that it takes time to familiarize and adjust, and especially as you being in a new country, new people, new work, it just takes a little time. Anyway, Mum is dashing around trying to find a suitable box for your parcel, once she has found the right size it shouldn't take long. I expect you are thinking it will
never arrive, we will keep on to her to hurry-up. You must be getting a little bored with the few clothes you took with you. Uncle Jack received your card the Saturday before last; his health is about the same, he is used to having his tablets now, so he is making the best of it. I can quite sympathize with you about the food bills, I know how the money goes so quickly, it doesn't seem much when you buy a little this or that, but suddenly it has totalled up and all gone. I have an idea, I do not know what you think of it, but how about me helping to teach some of your students, maybe by E.mail ( the post I think would take too long, or would it? ) Some of your more forward students might like the opportunity to correspond on a particular subject of their choice with an experienced native English person and thereby improve their written English. Of course, I wouldn't expect any payment, it would be a pleasure. Why not put it to your good friend Laura, and get her opinion, some of her Airline students also might like the opportunity to converse in written English. Let me know, we may have found a new way of teaching ( by E.mail ). I am a little envious of your visiting Xi'an next week. and seeing the terracotta army. Take photos. The ones you took at Lingshan are good, we will do some prints. By the way, take some photos of special trees, such as the Old Gingko Tree at Lingshan. Last Sunday, I went with Reggie to collect a larger Television for them, we went right down to Horsham in Sussex to get it. We took the firm's van, so it was quite easy to handle. It poured with rain the whole way, which meant the motorways were fairly quiet, so we had a pleasant trip. Not much else at present, so will make Ovaltine and then to bed. And you too, get plenty of sleep and rest.And don't worry about problems, just relax and all will be well. love and best wishes,
Response: Hi Dad, thanks for the message, it was a riveting read. That's good uncle jack got my postcard. But it took a while. I posted it on 18th september, so took about a month! So yes post takes a long time! I will mention to my teachers about your interest in teaching through email, i'm sure they will be interested. And yes I have a photo of the gingko tree, I will put it up, either on here or on facebook for you to see. Make sure mum only sends 2kg. it is getting very cold here now!
From Lorraine
Found some great Shanghai blogs for you:
A blog about cheap food/restaurants in Shaghai and with maps!
Everything else you could think of in Shanghai!

If the links don't work just type them in.
Response: ok cool Lorraine!
From Henry

Hi Sarah,
Yes still have those top trumps somewhere, I think they still sell relatively up to date ones, I shall have a look for you. I wouln't want to explain them to non enlish speakers though! Good luck! Mum is sorting out your parcels as I type, so they should be sent off tomorrow.

Shouldn't it be very cheap in china? That £3 hot chocolate in your pictures would be expensive for england! Is sozhou more expensive because it's a tourist destination?

Well there are plenty of lines of work where you can switch of and enjoy a pressure free environment, most office work/customer service/call centre...but I suppose its proportional to the rewards. I think you would tire of it eventually, unless you had some other ambitions beyond a career. Looking back at school though, it seemed that most teachers were very laid back, perhaps since they had been doing it for so long? Maybe since you are still new at it, and still have to plan out each lesson it will be more taxing than it may be in the future?

Enjoy the lessons, and your time in China, I bet you'll be itching to go out there again when you're back in england in a years time, maybe even missing your pupils! Have you got any favourite pupils / classes yet? Make sure to make the most of your time off too! it sounds like you've listed to visit most of the places in wild swans - Ive actually finished it now, thanks for lending it to me! I think I may now read 'Mao: the untold story' by the same author, I'm intriuged by china!

Not much news from me, still at home! I am going to Prague for five days next week, it should be interesting, I'm told its cheap there, I hope its cheaper than china!

Take care,
Response: Yes I love my students, they're so sweet, even the naughty ones. I know already that i'm gonna miss them when I leave. Yes I havea favourite class, i knew it was from the first week. And yes I know it will be so boring to go back to england after this, but right now i would love it. China's always so busy and hectic and there's something always going on, but in england sometimes it can be dead silence. so yes it would be quite an adjustment, and i'll be wanting to come back!

I didn't know about that other book by the same author, I wana read that too, won;t get it here though! Cool, have a good time in prague, take lots of photos!

And yes Suzhou is more expensive I think, because it's a lot wealthier than other places, and it's so close to Shanghai. There is a lack of cheap places.

And put wild swans back on my shelf, or lend it to kenny to read! And henry you better make it out here!
From From Dad
Hi Sarah, Just a quick word or two to give you some ideas for your lessons , how about taking a few tips from Julie Andrews films. Such as 'Mary Poppins' with the song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. And 'The Sound of Music' with the van Trapp family and their teacher Professor Higgins and the song of 'Do Ray Me' . I thought this might give you some ideas . By the way, I have a set {3} of books for you. A History of Language, A History of Writing, A History of Reading. I think they may be of some inspiration for your teaching.
Do you know Sarah, I think I would enjoy doing the work you are doing, I realize I am perhaps not quite qualified enough, but I would certainly get great satisfaction from teaching and seeing my pupils progress. Anyway, Good luck with the lessons , take care, love from Dad
Response: That's a brilliant idea - thanks Dad!
I think you are qualified enough to do what i'm doing because i'm not qualified either! In fact you would be better because you are more experienced in the English language and know more history and culture to it than i do! The students here would also love you! I don't look very western so I don't get the 'wow' factor in the classroom.