Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sofia's church is one of the must see sites in Harbin. Probably the most famous Russian built structures in Harbin. It is not an active church anymore, it now hosts a museum about the Japanese experiments during their occupation of Manchuria. It is also home to some lucky pigeons who have escaped being eaten. It was rebuilt in brick after buring down. Across the street is a store that is typical of many in China, kind of like a mall, or really a small. Stalls for each small businessman or woman. These are the kinds of places you can bargain at. I found my oven there. Gotta have that pizza and roast beef.

Let's talk about workloads in the different teaching positions. The lifestyle is quite different. If you are at a university teaching it will be more like a routine you are used to. Assuming you have a day job and do about 8 hours. You will probably have around 4.5 to 5 hours of student contact in the classroom. So with your prep, and marking you may work more than 40 hours. Especially at first, and the days will fly by. You will have your weekends off. You will probably have to make your tests and record your marks. It helps to be familiar with Excel and Word as all the software here is Microsoft. Some classes are large. So marking can definately be time consuming. You know this if you have taught before, but as many of you reading this may not have teaching experience you need to be aware of this. So when you see the ads that say 16 hours of classes per week, just remember that's probably less than half the job. So you will perhaps be busier for a 13-14 week period and may have 5 weeks off for the Spring Festival. Then you can travel. Many of my peers will be returning to Canada for a month, others have chosen to see Beijing, Shanghai, Hainan, Pakistan. Traveling out of the country is easier now as you don't need a re-entry visa as long as you have the proper documents, which are now in your passport.

Should you choose a private language school, a business, you will have many of your days free, work in the evenings and on weekends. You may teach 16 hours in two days so you could have several days off per week or just one class. Many contracts are for twenty hours of classes per week. So a busy weekend school may load you up on the weekend. In contrast to the university you many not have alot of other duties besides teaching. The occassional event such as Christmas or talent night or English corner at some schools are usually part of the deal and you must be sure at contract time what is expected with these type of events. Usually they're fun and not too time consuming. It's alot easier to get things done working at these type of schools as you are able to move about the city to do your business, or shopping. There are fewer hours overall working for the private schools and you can usually just show up for the teaching. Some schools will offer lunch or dinner if you have classes in the afternoon and one in the evening. My first job here in Harbin was at such a school and they employed a cook and a cleaner. You may find the cook to be a good source for learning Chinese. Handy when you are buying your own food at the market.

I feel either choice can be a good one, ofcourse you also have the age factor for choosing your Chinese teaching job. Well, on a personal note, I have finished my contract and again I don't know if I will be teaching at the same school. I hope so as the money is quite good and it is good most of the time. Now my pressing decision is will I travel during the Spring Festival? My Chinese girlfriend will go, the question is will I. It's required you know, you must go home and eat dumplings and watch TV marathons and play games. It's a family thing.


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