… kept me from an entry yesterday, or I’d have done one after classes. Instead my day went like this: woke for the day at 11 pm. Worked on last-minute course prep for 6 hours. Met my student assistant at 7 AM to have breakfast in the “canteen”, as they call it, then get a tour of the lecture hall and facilities where my classes would be held. Lecture TWO 3.5 hour classes (with an hour and a half for lunch in between). Make my first solo venture into the grocery store in the basement of the lecture hall where I teach to grab some crap so I don’t starve in my room; in the store I am faced with The Language Barrier, an intimidating obstacle I will forever have much greater sympathy for from now on; luckily they figured out that I was an illiterate monkey and helped me make my purchases without incident. It helps that my Faculty ID has a bank balance on it like most student cards in the US do now, so all I had to do was scan it. Slammed a tiny Chinese Diet Coke (standard can size is about the dimensions of a can of Red Bull) and hauled my dripping carcass uphill through Monday’s 93F smog-infused humidity to the Faculty Residence, took a cold shower, and dropped dead into my bed by 6 PM. I woke briefly for less than an hour at around midnight, but went back sleep and didn’t get up again until 4:30 AM, feeling like a champ.
This schedule, Lord have mercy. That was just the first day. 7 hours of practically back-to-back teaching is insane. First class was excellent, though, great group of kids. They applauded at the end of class, surprising but very nice, but I should have paced myself better; I was jacked-up so I was pretty high-energy and by afternoon I was feeling spent, with far less energy in the first half of the 2nd class. It moved more slowly and lacked the dynamism of the morning class for a bit, but by the time it was about half over I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, I was able to pick it up a bit. Engagement and interest improved dramatically.
Now I know better than to try to lecture for 3 hours twice in a row; bad idea. We managed to save it and had an excellent second half, with the kids enjoying themselves doing silly group presentations. My voice was suffering by the end, I was feeling the jet lag, and the adrenaline of Day 1 of my teaching assignment in a foreign communist country had dissipated.
Today *was* supposed to be my day off but I’ve been told that I have to attend some kind of orientation with the Dean and the department hosting me; my Student Assistant says to expect it to take all afternoon. Great. Oh well. It’s at the other campus location, and I am looking forward to seeing more of Beijing; I’ve been here almost 4 days and between jet lag and work have seen a little, but not a whole lot yet. The campus is gorgeous; everything on this site is brand new, including the lecture halls and the residence I’m staying in, and the place smacks of cash. It’s been no great hardship to be largely tied to things on the campus, finding my way around, and there have been a few excursions into the city — one the first day to a mall for dinner at a restaurant my SA recommended, a place called Green Tea, where the food was very good and we ate some kind of pork thing, some kind of peanut-sauce drizzled lettuce, candied steamed lotus flower, and some kind of green tea discs that were fried and rimmed with sesame seeds that were absolutely wonderful.
At least my sleep situation has improved. I still want to take some time to do prep for the classes before this orientation thing, so I better get going.