Friday, August 31, 2012

31 August 2012 -- Journal Log

Scooter's Journal Log
Earth Date 31 August 2012

Ok friends, remember when I told you the journal was probably going to switch to bullet points. That day has arrived. The days will be bullet points with special paragraphs written only to describe something special. I'm quite sure after a week now, you don't really want nor need to know every detail of my daily life now that the initial excitement of what daily life is like here in my neck of Beijing. If you want more details about something specific, just post a comment, and I will do my best to answer here on out.

Cereal for breakfast • met Lena to walk to school for 9 o'clock meeting • arrived on campus for faculty meeting • Todd went over details for 3 o'clock advisor meetings with students • advisors were assigned – I was given section 10 A (one of four sections of 10th graders with 24 students, there is one additional section of tenth graders which has 14 students, and they are the first IB students in the International Program) • we were given class schedule grids for the advisees to fill out • I visited my assigned cubicle in the large group office of eight people I will be sharing

"The Office"
While I cannot guarantee the same degree of comedy as the acclaimed NBC television show, I have a feeling my office is going to be the site of plenty of humorous occurrences this year. My cubicle in the office, room 508, is relatively close to my classroom while other teachers have theirs on the third floor and teach on the fifth. There are eight cubicles: four for international teachers and four for Chinese teachers. We also have one of the few laser printers and copy machines available for all of the faculty to use in our office. In that, it is the central office for the faculty of the AP Dual Diploma Program within the International Department. I got to pick my cubicle from the four available because I was there first! I asked around and everyone said I could pick. So, I picked. Then, as my four international teacher office mates arrived to look, I asked each if he would like to switch with me and each said, "No thanks." So, I immediately began setting mine up with all of the various artifacts, trinkets, keepsakes, and more all brought from my previous office in York, PA.

Slowly, but surely, my space was transformed into a little slice of home away from home. My cubicle is roughly equivalent to the size of my office last year when it comes to useable space. So, I have plenty of room to spread out. I can have two biology text books open, my iPad set up, and my school-provided lap top open, and still have room to grade papers! Meanwhile, the lighting above is a mixture of diffused and banked compact fluorescent bulbs and tubes. I can tell the room was designed to prevent eye strain with the diffused lighting from above and the bank of windows along the back wall. The color scheme is inviting yet studious and scholarly. Each teacher is also provided a tall, lockable storage cabinet with place to hang your winter coat and store things that won't fit on your ample desk as well as two, three drawer file cabinets that fit under the desk for supplies.  

Where to Eat Lunch?
A group of teachers, five of us or so, collectively decided we were hungry. Most of the new people were low on cash, and the school dining hall doesn't take cash anyway. The only acceptable form of currency there is the school-issued smart card which we had not yet been given out to the new people. So, Santosh decided to treat us to lunch on his card. It was really quite gentlemanly of him, but he still had several hundred CN 元 on his card left over from last year and lunch costs an average of 8 CN 元 ($1.27 USD). We headed over for what was to be my second meal in the giant multi-level dining hall. Only the faculty dining area was open, so, he helped us pick a meal and swiped his card.

A School with it's own Wu-Mart

After lunch, Santosh took us to our school's campus-based Wu-Mart. This is exactly like a mini Walgreen's located in the same building as our cafeterias with the on-campus faculty housing towers above. The store, again, only accepts the BNDS smart card, so Santosh treated us to beverages here. This Wu-Mart carries sundries, school supplies, flour, cooking oil, milk, juice, cookies, candy, nuts, sandwiches, crackers, fruit, instant noodle bowls, school uniforms, ping pong balls and paddles, badminton birds and racquets, and probably about 300 other items including Arizona® Ice Tea and bottled Starbucks® Frappucinos!

The School Lunch Card
When we get ours, it will be preloaded with 2,500 CN 元 ($398 USD) to use to purchase food and items in the Wu-Mart for the first semester. I grant you on the one hand, that does not sound like a huge amount of money. However, I should mention that one can eat a rice bowl topped with chicken and veggies for 8 CN 元 ($1.27 USD). Technically, you can use the card for any meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's no problem. You can also buy all the ingredients to make your own lunch at home and bring it to school. That also is no problem. There are no rules like, "you have to buy and eat the food there." If you what to have McDonald's everyday for lunch and use the lunch card to buy candy for your desk, that's fine. It is no problem!

I returned to International Department HQ Building • volunteered to be on team to organize and stamp all the text books • not all of the text books are quite in yet • the rest are anticipated to arrive on Wednesday • still we stamped and got hundreds of text books ready including books for Linear Algebra (14 Seniors will be taking Linear Algebra), Catcher in the Rye, and countless others that would be familiar to any high school book store manager in the USA! • met with my 10A advisees and found that their Chinese home room teacher had already typed up their schedule for them so they did not need to fill out the blank grid I gave them inducing many blank stares and wonderment as to why I was asking them to fill this blank thing out • as their homeroom teacher had used an older version, there were a few room changes they were able to notice and make however so it wasn't a total loss • I was told by one teacher to let them loose to find all of their classrooms while I found out later that other teachers were actually taking them around as a group for a tour since the 10th graders are all new and do not know their way around • their homeroom teachers returned to pass out books for their Chinese courses in politics, geography, math, SAT prep, and TOEFL prep, and I and the other International teachers were dismissed • my feet were absolutely killing me as is always the case the first two weeks back at school and the monumental degree of standing, so I limped back home where I promptly loaded the washer with shirts and rested on the futon sofa • I read • answered emails • ate a sandwich and potato chips left over from yesterday • I drank a lot of water from my big water cooler which has just passed the 1/4 left-mark • fell soundly asleep at some point and awoke around 11 pm • I hung the clothes to dry • checked email • read the Denver Post • set the alarm • went back to sleep

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