Sunday, February 22, 2009

First Week at Jingshan

This past week was our first week of school at Jingshan. While I definitely enjoyed meeting new people and seeing how school is conducted in China, this week was marked by my being extremely bored for five consecutive days. Now don't get me wrong, we were expecting this and were even warned by Wang laoshi to hang in there because this week wouldn't be very interesting, but it is always one thing to know something's going to happen and an entirely different thing to actually experience it.

Each day my class has seven classes, five before lunch and two after (that's for the middle school. all the other American kids besides Rebecca and I have eight classes, meaning that I get out one period earlier than them. YAY!!! :P). I say my class because in China, you stay with your classmates the entire day and the teachers move around. Every day we also have one, two, or even three classes that are double blocks. These are different from long blocks at South. While at South a long block is just one block that has 15 extra minutes, in China double blocks are two normal blocks back to back with a 5 minute break in between. This makes them much longer than long blocks, and if it isn't English class, much more boring. In China lunch is also much longer than it is in America, and we get about 1.5 hours to eat and chill in the middle of the day. This is great, but it comes at the cost of ending school later than in America, at around 3 or 3:30 rather than 2 or 2:30.

The classes I had this week were (in no particular order): Physics, English, Chemistry, Politics, Math, Chinese, and PE. In Physics I recognized an equation or two, mostly because they were doing circular motion which is what we were learning before I left. English is my favorite class because I can understand everything, but also because it is the one class where there's a good amount of student participation and group work. The normal Chinese style of teaching is teacher talks and talks and talks and student listens/spaces out. If it sounds boring, that's because it is. In English class, however, the teacher wants the students to practice their speaking skills, and the only way to do that is through group work and to have the students participate in the class. In Chemistry, I could vaguely follow what they were doing from my junior chemistry course, but mostly I didn't know what was going on. Politics I got none of. In Math I only understood one equation, and in Chinese again, nothing. PE was second best to English. We went out to the track area and played basketball or just walked around. It was nice to stretch my legs and do something physical.

After school each day I would get home at around 4:30 or 5. I take the subway home each day, and it's 8 stops. The annoying part of it is that I take one line for 7 stops, then transfer and go 1 stop. I walk home from the subway because there's a public bus that goes from my apartment to the subway, but not the other way. It's about a 10-15 minute walk, much closer than the T is to my house in Newton. When I get home I get on my computer and just spend time doing what I feel like. This is the most enjoyable aspect of my stay in Beijing. The only "homework" I have is for our English class with our two teacher chaperones, but that's it. Talk about slump. That's it for now, coming up next- our trip to Tiananmen Square!!!

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