In my last post, I complained (well, it wasn’t really a complaint, but more of a slightly unhappy observation, in my defence) that life had been getting a bit monotonous. This week has certainly rectified that! For starters, we’ve got exams coming up on Monday and Tuesday, so I probably should have got a bit more revision under my belt. However, a large chunk of proofreading work has come in to intervene (thanks again to dissertation season in the UK), and I’ve also been trying to get another few social engagements booked in.
It’s always good to get some work in – obviously the money earned from having a little business will never come in wrong as a student – but the timing of everything coming together at once led to what can only be described as my “Benny Hill day” on Friday (hence the music accompanying this blog entry)!
Oh, yeah – two background stories firstly. Mrs Zhou, admin staff, had asked if I would perform next Sunday night at what she termed a 晚会 (which I rightly interpreted as a “party”). This was no problem, I said, and thought nothing more of it. Secondly, our Newcastle lecturer has been over on a pastoral and business visit, so Will and I met up with her for a dinner late on Thursday night. That was pretty nice as a catch up; she was getting our feedback on the experience so far, as well as making sure we are both still alive and well…
Okay, so Friday began, as usual, with Listening and Comprehensive classes. Then, my usual trip to the gym. I had the afternoon from that point on planned out nicely. I should have been going to work at the TV station to do the voiceover for this week’s news broadcast, then coming back. There was a meeting organised for the aforementioned Newcastle lecturer with the Hainan University staff, which was meant to be followed by a meal out. I was told this meal was at 5pm, which, due to my work commitment, I had no way of getting back for. Anyway, back on track: as I left the gym, I checked my phone to see that I didn’t have to go to work any more, but could just meet the lady in a cafe near uni to learn how to do voiceovers. I wasn’t required to actually record it this week, so there was no point in trekking across town for that.
Still, the 5pm deadline was unattainable, so I asked a friend if she wanted to eat together once I was back. I would get ingredients on my journey and cook once installed again at the dorm. I ran to the meeting for a spot of light exercise, then as planned, bought food, getting back to the dorm just after 6pm. All was well! Until I stopped outside the dorm to speak to Vlad, and there – out of nowhere – appeared the group of teachers who’d asked me out for the meal. Both annoying and a little embarrassing! They said: “Oh, no worries – 5pm wasn’t the meal, but a separate meeting which you were involved in, then the meal was due for 6pm. Come along now anyway!” But of course, I’d already bought ingredients and made this plan to cook, so I apologised for the misunderstanding. BUT IF ONLY CHINESE COMMUNICATION AND INSTRUCTIONS WERE CLEARER!!!! (More to follow on this in the next paragraph…)
So I went up to my room, had a quick shower and went downstairs to put a wash in. On my way back up I stopped off at Paulina’s room to tell her this saga. As soon as I got there, I got a phone call. It was an unrecognised number, so I answered. “Hello? Is this Jack?” the voice said in English. “Yes,” I replied, in Chinese. “Can you speak Chinese?” she asked. “Yes, of course I can. Otherwise I wouldn’t have replied to the first question in Chinese, would I?!” Okay, I didn’t answer with this, but it set the tone for the rest of the conversation. It turns out, she was from the society organising the competition next Sunday evening. (COMPETITION?! I’ve really had enough of this crappy excuse for clear and open communication now. I wouldn’t have been willing to take part in another competition had I known it was a flaming competition! But I’m now signed up. As you can tell, I’m pretty angry about this, and intend to express this to Mrs Zhou next week.) She wanted me to go along literally right the next minute to go and perform a run-through for them. Absolutely no chance. The next two minutes of this phone call consisted of a circular affair; about four times, we went through the whole discussion of when I have free time to go and practise. After a five-minute call in total, we hung up, leaving me rather exasperated with the whole situation.
Fortunately, my friend had supplied wine for our meal, so I (on Paulina’s advice – but only after she’d taken a video of me in a rage for her entertainment) made my way up the 103 stairs to my dorm for a proper relax and healthy meal.
Plan for this weekend
So, now I’ve calmed down after 20 hours of yogic breathing and too much red wine, what’s my plan for this weekend (apart from a good amount of vocab revision)?
Tonight I’ve organised another meeting of our little running group. Hoping for a slightly better turnout than last time, but who knows. Then, depending on numbers, we’ll either go out for a meal or just go and sit somewhere for a quick drink. I plan to return to my room for a light bite, then to watch some of tonight’s Premier League offering. Now that Sunderland have a vague glimmer of hope again, it’s pretty tense and exciting. We simply have to beat Cardiff this weekend, then if we can win the game in hand against West Brom too, I think we’re well on the way to staying up. Easier said than done, though…
Tomorrow, I hope to go and find a swimming pool that is suitable (and will permit me) to set up the slackline for some waterlining. There is a lake near the dorm which would be perfect, but I don’t trust the water in there… Then in the evening we’re looking to get a group together and find a big screen to watch the Sunderland and Liverpool games back-to-back. Failing that, I’ll get the laptop out again.
Either way, I’m within nine weeks of my return to the UK now – not long to go! Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying it here and I know for sure that I’ll miss it in six months’ time, but I can’t wait to get stuck into the summer’s challenges. I’ve got a nice flat set up in Jesmond and will crack on with the internship. The world of work awaits (temporarily, at least)…