I wanted to document a normal day.
The first time I wake up is around 3am to kick my cat out of the room. She sleeps curled up next to me or on my head for most of the night but she wakes up before me and such as a cat does, licks my eyelids until I wake up. So I throw her out and go back to sleep for a few more hours to re-awake at 7 or 8am depending on my schedule. First I put the kettle on to boil and jump in the shower. After showering and dressing I make a cup of instant coffee, feed the cat and clean her litter. I sip on my coffee and stare blankly for 10m or so until the caffeine hits my brain then I review what I’m teaching that day and make sure I have everything in my bag ready to go. Most of the time I make breakfast at home – 2 eggs and 2 sausages, maybe a piece of bread. All covered in hot sauce. A few days out of the week I’ll get Mcdonalds breakfast to change things up. I live 20 steps away from a McD and you really can’t beat a 6 kuai ham sandwich and “bing kafei” (iced coffee). Especially good on those days I’m really dragging. The iced coffee unlike its counterpart – the HOT coffee – has sugar syrup and ice cream on top, stir all that together and you’ve got crack. If it’s a mcdonalds day I’ll get my food “da bao” (to go) but I eat the food in the restaurant, I’m not sure why I get it to go if I eat it there – I think it’s because I like the little bag they provide for the coffee. Once I inhale my food I always leave in quite a hurry, only to sit on the steps across the street from some old guys playing majong. I watch them and sip my coffee. People stare at me and my foreignness and I stare back, occasionally saying “good morning” to some of my students or their parents as they pass by. Sitting there I feel like I’m soaking up bits of China and chinese culture.
Eventually I pick myself up and walk to school. There are three different campuses I teach at but they are all on the same street within a minute or two of each other. All of them about 5 minutes walk from my apartment. My earliest class is at 8:45, not too bad. I usually teach 2-4 classes in the morning, each are 40 minutes long with a 10-20 minute break between. I like the routine of entering the classroom, turning on the a/c, turning on the breakers, the computer, the projector, loading my powerpoint , taking out all the papers and pens I need, ensuring the chalkboard is clean, checking the desks, making sure they are clean – and then I sit and wait patiently for my students to arrive. I teach the same lesson 4-7 times a day, two different lessons a week, but I don’t mind, gives me time to improve the lesson plan each class. I teach until 12:00 then I have a 2.5 hour lunch break. I usually grab something quick to eat, today I got some mushroom and beef at a little restaurant near by then I go home, play with the cat a bit, maybe chat online, rearrange my lesson plan if necessary and then I take a nap from 1:00-2:00 if I can. This is what chinese do, so this is what I do. I wake up a little groggy and grumpy but go back to school to teach another 2-3 classes. I’m always out by 5:30 at the latest. I get dinner -or if i’m lazy, I’ll order in pizza – and I pick up 2 beers from a little store near by apt. The man knows me by now, he practices his english, I practice my chinese. He says “hello” I say “ni hao” I say “liang ping pi jiu” he says “two bottles of beer.” We exchange the goods for money, he says “thank you” I say “xiexie.” The old man sitting off to the side smiles with several of his teeth missing, I smile back. I march back to my apt, give a head nod to the security guard and up my four flights of stairs to my incredibly chinese apartment and my incredibly chinese cat. I sit sweaty and stare blankly out my window for a few moments before turning on my computer and opening up a cold beer.”The day is over” i think and let out a sigh.