Published on:
February 23, 2018

by: Tom

Guest Post: Winter Course Teaching, a Hotpot Date, and the Staff Party!

Here’s the latest instalment from Francesca in Fuzhou, who this week reflects upon her winter course, staff party, and some delicious hotpot!

Winter Course teaching, and some seriously hard work…


In ESL schools around China, there is a common practise of running extra courses for a short period of time, several times throughout the year. Teachers will run these extra lessons alongside their usual timetable, and the goal is to bring in new students and extra income around the quieter periods.

It is run differently by every school, but the change in schedule for my own school meant coming in for an extra four hours a day, 5 days a week, and working one weekend day, resulting in one day weekends, and longer working days. Honestly, I didn’t think much of the additional lessons, and I eagerly welcomed the idea of a new class to work with. My school has been slow for opening classes since my arrival, so the fresh faces and new materials were exhilarating! At first, anyway.

For the first week at least, in the 4-hour break between morning and afternoon classes, I thrived, going to the gym and making my own fresh lunches. But having only one day to rest at the weekend, and having a million and one things to achieve in this break, I was already tired by the second.

The extra courses slowly took their toll, and during the first week alone, I came down with a stomach infection and my wisdom teeth decided to kick in. The cherry on the cake though, I had a surprise observation from Head Office!  Tired and not too well prepared, I could have passed it, however with my additional migraine, it was not quite the correct combination for a good lesson. Clearly failing, and a little overwhelmed, I left the lesson, and proceeded to have a little sob in the staff bathroom, to let it all out. As I went to wipe my eyes, I knocked my nose, and triggered a nosebleed. By this point, it was hard not to laugh at myself and the day I was having. However, caught by Chinese staff who clearly assumed I wouldn’t be as weird as to cry alone in a toilet, they insisted I visit a hospital in case it was something serious.  The following couple of days I received a lot of extra love, attention and question about whether I had visited the hospital recently.

To confirm, I didn’t. Stupidity isn’t a valid reason to go.

The extra love went a long way though, having supportive colleagues at work definitely makes things a lot easier when things can get hard!

Being active in my breaks was also definitely a good move – I found colleagues who would go home and nap would be sleepy and agitated for the rest of the work shifts. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to see people working out in tight clothing!

The Annual Staff Party…


Mid way through the winter course, my school threw its annual Winter party as an early celebration for the Chinese New Year, and a way to bring all of the branches together! My company is extremely generous, and held a massive raffle throughout the night, with prizes including large sums of money from 2000RMB!! Unfortunately, they didn’t think ahead, and held the raffle in Chinese. Whilst it was lovely to see our co-workers winning, I can’t say it wasn’t a shame that the raffle wasn’t opened out to everyone and held in English – what with everyone in the room being a very capable English speaker.

Fortunately this was swiftly forgotten by all as we plied ourselves with the surplus free alcohol, forgetting that we had work tomorrow. What 8:30 start!  Whilst I wouldn’t recommend turning up to work a little less than fresh, the staff morale was glorious as we all supported each other through, and the smell of Mcdonalds breakfasts was mirrored in both staff and TA offices. And not that I promote drinking the night before work – but it was my best day of classes in the three weeks! (I dread to think what that says about my teaching style).

A HotPot Date…


When you’re starting to fall a little weary from too much work, you might need more than just a staff party to salvage you. This is where my favourite little APP, TanTan comes in! Finding two lovely men on it who shared a mutual interest for languages and eating Hotpot (MY DREAM), my friend and I eagerly turned up to a new mall that’s just opened by our apartment. It was HEAVENLY. As a strict vegetarian, my friend insisted heavily on vegetable based food items only, but this did not negatively affect our meal in anyway. Hot pot is a meal made by the heavens, with infinite possibilities for ingredients, and I find most places have A3 menus that are often double sided. The dream, right?

With our stomachs fit to burst, we waddled home, ready to take on the end of term before the Chinese New Year, in which we get a full 10 days holiday for Spring Festival!!!

Excitingly my friends and I have planned a few short trips around the city and one to Wuyishan. As part of my goal to learn Chinese, I chose against travelling abroad to Cambodia with most of my school, and instead decided to keep it local. I couldn’t be any more excited, and I’m sure a great story or two will follow next time…

Francesca is currently teaching in Fuzhou as part of the Teach China Graduate Program.


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