So recently, it’s like I’ve been working from 9-5. Some days it’s 8-5, and some days it’s 10-5. The new semester has begun and I’m finally feeling what it is to be studying and doing part-time work at the same time. I know so many people will think that at (almost) 24, I should know how it feels like, but coming from a country that doesn’t generally allow part-time work to students who haven’t graduated from university, it’s not something completely unheard of especially since I came to China soon after graduating from university. Back to topic, I’ve been doing two things since the semester began this week – studying and working. I’ve been granted a very practical schedule that allows me to study in the mornings and work in the afternoons, though it doesn’t leave me with much time to rest or study, though I’ve tried to remedy that by bringing some of my books to work with me so that during breaks or times that students are answering seatwork I can do my studies.
It’s been very draining and tiring, most especially since most of my classes start at 8 and that means having to wake up a lot earlier than I’m used to, and that means that I don’t come to work fully refreshed unlike during the summer holidays. In fact, this week was so stressful because I was trying to fix all my visa and passport documents (before my visa expires next week) plus I was trying to schedule my classes since I initially wanted my listening class to be on a lower level compared to my other classes, but what was most frustrating was that the language program office decided to re-do the level arrangements and I had to rethink the levels I wanted for my classes. In short, it’s just been really confusing and tiring.
Black blazer from H&M Xiamen; Striped tee from H&M Xiamen; Legging pants from UNIQLO Hong Kong; Eyeglass frame necklace from Xiamen; White and gold bracelet from Xiamen
The one thing I’ve been trying to do since becoming a teacher is to dress more professionally. I occasionally dress up in a normal tee and pants, but more often than not, I try to pair it off with something. Like in the picture above, I bought this blazer from H&M like 3 months ago which I’ve been pairing off with simple tees. About 2 weeks ago, I bought this vest thing which I’ve also been pairing off with a few of my tees. Part of me is trying to get used to wearing more than the usual tee so that I don’t get overwhelmed when I finally decide to join the working world. Another part of me is trying to look more grown up and more like someone who is turning 24, though I’m very flattered by the comments that I look like I’m 20 (this has happened more than 5 times already) and was at one time mistaken for a high school student by some Westerners who had just arrived in Xiamen. A couple of days ago, it was very hot out so I wore a normal graphic tee and shorts to school and ended up wearing it to work. One of my students had her mom come in and asked me to translate some things from English to Chinese and told her daughter in Chinese, “Wow your teacher looks very young!”.
Another reason why I’m trying to look more like a teacher and like a student is that I want my students to take me seriously. Recently, I don’t know if it’s the weather or my teaching style, or that they’re just getting tired of attending morning to afternoon classes, but they’ve become quite lethargic. I know they’re tired, but so am I, considering I have classes in the morning and have to commute to work to teach in the afternoons. I give them rest breaks, and am quite lenient about break times and starting class a bit later than usual, I even let them talk to each other and such. But at times, they’ve gone too far and I’ve had to be strict. Like once, I had a student who was using his phone too often that I told him to put it away, so he tried to hide his using the phone by placing it under the desk while he was on his mobile. I caught his attention and told him that I’ve been a student far longer than he has so I’m much more experienced when it comes to hiding mobile phone use in class, and other such methods. Generally, I’m pretty nice and friendly but oftentimes my youth and friendliness have kept me from looking serious or being taken seriously. I really don’t like berating students but at times, it is necessary to do so, especially since their exams in Singapore start in less than a month!
Imagine, I’m apparently giving up my Golden Week holidays (Chinese holiday in October that gives a week-long holiday for the Chinese independence day celebration) to tutor them before they head off to Singapore. And I’m making a conscious effort to teach despite being tired from my morning lessons. The least they can do is to pay attention in class and answer me when I ask questions. I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just trying to make their lessons worth the money they paid for it. I posted this on my weibo account a few minutes after having one of my tiring sessions with my students, in Filipino of course so it couldn’t be understood since one of my students follows my weibo - ”"Ang hirap talaga maging guro. Ngayon ko lang talaga naintindihan gaano kahirap at nakaka sama ng loob na makakita ng mga estudyanteng hindi nakikinig sa sinasabi ko. Parang ang gastos ng laway at oras ko. Akala nila sila lang ang pagod? Ako din naman ah. Hay naku…” (Translation: It’s really hard being a teacher. It’s only now that I’m understanding how hard and painful it is to see students who don’t listen to what I’m saying. It’s feels like it’s a waste of my saliva and my time. Do they think they’re the only ones who are tired? I am too. Le sigh~)
Despite being both student and teacher, I feel like my daily routine is like a normal work schedule. Not much time to rest, but definitely constantly a learning opportunity.
Apparently, this is what the real world feels like.