A Travellerspoint blog

Train Rides and Gloom

overcast 18 °C
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"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."
– Winnie the Pooh

As I sit here typing and eating peanut butter, it has now been 5 days since I last stepped foot in the bustling city of Beijing. I arrived in Dongguan, China in the Villas Royal Foreign Language School after a 25-hour train ride and 1-hour bus ride with my 5 other teachers-in-arms last Friday.

The first day was just us settling down and unpacking. I was a little disappointed as on the second day at 8am we were already at work and meeting important members of staff. The third day was also very casual with us showing our faces around campus as parents came to drop off their children or to tour the campus. Today started as a normal day, with all of us prepared to teach, when we got word that today was just a testing day. So instead of teaching the 3 classes I was supposed to today, I prepared lesson topics and reviewed movies and prepare to teach my 5 classes tomorrow.

My classes are relatively simple. I will be teaching around 10-12 hours of my own 1st and 2nd-grade classes plus an additional VIP class or two. VIP classes here are for children who have the highest English-language-levels in their classes. I am very excited about the curriculum here, as they are a movie based learning environment. This means that they use songs, movies, and video clips to enhance learning and aid in areas of pronunciation and natural speech. Since my colleagues and I are in the second semester, we have to teach the children things they didn’t learn in the previous semester, which might prove to be difficult to target. With the help of last semester’s notes and lesson plans, I am hoping to figure out what they know by the end of the first or second week so that I will have my lessons prepared and they will get jumpstarted into learning new words.

The accommodations I share with my roommate are spacious and surprising. I didn’t expect to be basically in the lap of luxury here. The area surrounding our two-bedroom apartment is clean and green! We live in a gated community complete with its own country club and lake area. The only thing I would love to have is a heater, an oven, and a separate shower so we don’t wash next to the toilet and make our bathroom a Sea World Splash Zone.

In addition to such nice living spaces and environment, nearly every staff member – guards and teachers alike – will smile and say “hello!” when you pass by. Tom, the head of the English department, made what was expected of us in the classroom rather clear the first day and always talks about the school with pride and enthusiasm. This is refreshing, especially since I have been worried about my placement school since Day 1. Billy, our intern manager at Villas Royal, is beyond helpful. He asks about our wellbeing each day and is always available to be contacted through WeChat. He goes above and beyond what he has to do.

Before I end it with you, the beloved reader, thinking that everything is lollipops and rainbows I need to lay down some honest words. Over the past month or so, I have never felt so emotionally and physically drained in a very long time. I miss drawing on my tablet and being able to gain creative inspiration from watching animations all night. I crave the company of my family, friends, professors and pets back home. I miss being in a place I could always find a friendly face in. I know I rag a lot about my home state of Texas, but there really are some extraordinary people with such generous and honest countenances there that I have yet to find anywhere else in all the places I’ve been to.

As I start to realise I miss all the small things, I also miss not having any real responsibilities. I went from being a live-at-home community college art major to an English teacher in China. I now have the weight of one of the top 3 rated schools in Dongguan on my shoulders, expecting me to get my 9 classes of 1st and 2nd graders to an acceptable English level for their next year of schooling. I have to live with not being able to talk to my friends and family on a regular basis due to our 14-hour time difference, some I can’t talk to for weeks at a time because of how busy we both are. I have to live with not being there for them in the most important stages of our lives like high school and community college graduation. I won’t get to celebrate with them in-person. With all of these thoughts suffocating me, I also have to remember that should I quit this program for any reason, not only have I let my school, my students, and my program down – I will let myself down.

My goal is to upload my teaching diaries, at least weekly, and picture blogs when I get the time (and pictures!). So for now, thank you for reading, and see you next time!

Posted by Kacey's Travels 03:12 Archived in China Tagged china internship dongguan efl immerqi Comments (0)

New Year Celebrations, Summer Palace, Hongqiao, & Acrobatics

sunny 10 °C
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Another week has come and gone, and I have many more stories to tell and pictures to share. Beijing continues to teach me something new every day, whether it be about myself, the city, or China itself. With it being the week of Chinese New Year, there is always something going on. Namely fireworks. There hasn't been a single day the past two weeks there hasn't been the sound of explosions and flashes of light out our 13th story window.

Which brings me to what we did for New Years Eve and New Years Day. For the first day since our January 21st arrival, my roommate and I had the opportunity to sleep in - which we did! Our day started around 09:00, which led us to a long walk around Houhai Hutong, then back to our dorm to watch the first set of nighttime fireworks. After about an hour or two, we ventured outside to take pictures of the people celebrating. When we got our shots and more fireworks started going off, we headed back inside, tried to make it up to the roof of our 18 story building, failed, and found ourselves watching the dazzling display of the city illuminated by sounds of explosions and light.


New Years Day was rather uneventful for us as well. We went to the Changdian Temple Fair to meet up with some of our program peers and had a lot of fun walking around the crowds and buying a few souvenirs for our friends and family. I really recommend the Changdian Temple Fair for those who wish to buy calligraphy, art, antiques, or old-looking items for souvenirs. After that, my roommate and I split up from the group and went on a mission to find a 7-Eleven. We ended up finding it at Glory Mall, which is a rather nice (but expensive) mall, before heading home to sleep before class the next day.

A Recap of the Last Tour Day
The last tour day started with a two-hour self-guided tour of the Summer Palace. My roommate and I found some out-of-the-way paths around the grounds, which I recommend for anyone to do (while still obeying signs and authorities, of course!).


The next stop was to the Pearl Market. I was a little wary at first since as soon as I walked in it was all a flurry of activity and haggling voices, suspicious merchandise lining every walkway. I wasn't too excited until I was able to bargain an item down to a reasonable price. Once you get the feel of it, bargaining gets easier and somewhat fun, and I was able to snag a lot of stuff. I got some Bose Noise-Cancelling headphones (we checked before purchasing), a t-shirt, a Fjallravn backpack, and a small shoulder day bag for all under 735RMB (~111USD). We plan on going back to purchase some shoes. The trick is to start unrealistically low and/or pretend to leave and always be firm in your final price (Or even better, have someone who can speak Chinese with you to haggle).


Right after the Pearl Market (Hongqiao) was a stop at Tian’anmen Square. I’d already been once before, visited Mao’s body, and walked around for about an hour, so there was nothing new to see here. Everyone ended up having to leave upon request of the guards as an important individual was arriving. I got brave and tried to take photos of the guards (I don’t recommend doing this).


The final stop of the day was the Beijing acrobatics show. I have mixed feelings about the show, because although it was beautiful, the audio and synchronization was off. My favourite part of the entire show was the motorcycles riding around in a ball. I took some videos (shhhhh, don’t tell!!) of it to show everyone!

Posted by Kacey's Travels 01:38 Archived in China Tagged china beijing internship immerqi Comments (0)

Long Time, No Talk

this took a week to post!

sunny 2 °C
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As I type this, it has been about 11 days since I arrived in the bustling city of Beijing, China. Although being away from those I love can seem daunting at times, I’ve not felt lonely or stressed here yet. The others in the ImmerQi program are a lively but fun bunch to be around, and I’ve made friends with some of them already. The city itself is always buzzing with excitement. Beijing is never lacking in new experiences – there is always something new to see and learn, from the historical to modern.


Over the past couple of days I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a more historical side of the busy city that is Beijing, China. The morning of the 27th of January found me at the Juyangguan Pass of the Great Wall of China. I have to say that the Wall is nothing like it is in pictures – it’s much better. I wasn’t prepared for the arduous task of actually getting up the Wall as it was a steep incline and it was very troublesome to climb the steps, but very worth it. The next stop was to the Olympic Stadium, and not much could be said about that. I wasn’t impressed with the outside like I guess I should have been, though I’m sure the inside wouldn’t have impressed me either. Houhai Hutongs was the next step on our tour day, which was very nice and quiet. Needless to say I was very ready for the day to be over.


Yesterday I found myself again in the act of exploring Beijing’s history in the Tien’anmen Square, Forbidden City and Lama Temple. Tien’anmen Square was a vast area of cultural importance that I found myself intrigued by. I learn something new about China every day (surprise, surprise). Next stop was the Forbidden City, which was well worth the trip. With over 800 buildings, there’s never a lack of something to see. One of my group members told me that if you were not invited into the Forbidden City by the emperor in the City’s hay-days, then it was cause for execution should you be found there. Between the Forbidden City and the next destination, we had lunch at a small restaurant located just down and across the street from the Lama Temple. We all ended up getting something different to what we’d ordered because we had pointed to the wrong Chinese names, so it was a forced opportunity to try something new. The last destination of the day was the Lama Temple. It was very beautiful and peaceful there. At the chance of sounding too comparative, I’d have to say I prefer Japan’s temples to China’s, but they both have something different to offer that the other doesn’t. The walking was tiring but we learned so many things that day, had so many good experiences, that I can only be left saying that I’d do it again - 100 times over.


On a more personal note, my roommate from Denmark and I get along very well, my professors are wonderful and very competent, and although the program itself could use more communication and organization, ImmerQi is wonderful. I’ve actually been ill the past week or so and the medicine here isn’t working as well as medicine I would get back in the States would be. The one thing I can vouch for are the cough drops – they taste horrible but they work miracles on a sore throat.


With limited internet access and classes that eat up most of my time, it will be hard for me to write over the next couple of weeks, so please keep that in mind in the absence of blog posts. But also keep in mind that I have been proactive in photographing all that I can here, as well as travelling to different areas in Beijing. Once I’ve moved to my placement, I will try to make blog updates more frequent, and I will try to travel around China as much as I can. Thank you for your understanding.

Posted by Kacey's Travels 01:51 Archived in China Tagged china beijing immerqi Comments (0)

On the Verge

7 °C

"Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one."
Dr. Seuss

As it seems I can't sleep (and will regret not doing so as I have to be up in 5 hours...) I should use my super-insomnia to write a last-minute entry.

Today really was fun. I met up with some friends to say our goodbyes and promises to meet up at the end of 6 months. It's weird to think that this time tomorrow I'll be in China. Walking through the hallway of the art department I came to know and love too little too late made me feel...weird. I was so happy to be there but I wouldn't let myself really think about it. I guess because I know I'll miss it all. I'll miss my professors, my classes, my friends. Of course, I'll miss family and pets just as much. I can't say that I'm sad, I can't say that I'm anything.

I put off packing and put on a load of stress. I waited until the last day to pack all of my things, which isn't how I normally do things. Everything fits now. My new life for 6 months in 50lbs (dramatic, remember?). I've had almost nothing but good news the past week. I guess this is what "ready" feels like; the relief of acceptance, the elation of excitement, the beginning of change.

I don't feel like writing anything specific now, just my thoughts. I'll make another post about what I packed and how that worked out for me in the near future. Stay posted.

Bonus: It's funny that even Momentum knows what's up. Check out that featured location and quote, maybe the world is giving me an e-sign?


Posted by Kacey's Travels 21:40 Archived in USA Tagged preparing Comments (0)

On The Road Again!

January 20th!

1 °C

Making a big life change is pretty scary. But know what's even scarier? Regret.
- Zig Ziglar

Random Winter Shot

Random Winter Shot

I couldn't have said it better myself, Mr. Ziglar.
Throughout 2015, change became my tormentor and instability my friend; some friends and family members became strangers, pastimes that brought me joy became arduous chores, and I let goals become nothing but far-flung dreams. Yet in the middle of it all, I made new friends, experienced new things, and gained a kind of determination that can only be won through hardship. At the cost of me sounding dramatic (you should know I am by now), I feel like this next journey is going to be the most important step I've ever made in my life towards realising my dreams.


On the 3rd of September I applied for an internship teaching English as a Foreign Language in China through ImmerQi, an internship organization that helps up-and-coming professionals all across the world get work experience in China (of course, this is a very brief summary, but I'll try to make a separate post about ImmerQi later). In my case, the Teach and Travel China program will give me the opportunity to earn my TEFL certification, while allowing me to gain real-world teaching experience, and the chance to live in and experience China first-hand for 6 months. After an interview, I got my acceptance letter the 15th of September, and just now got my Visa and plane tickets.

I'm very excited about the prospects that will come from this program but don't think I've jumped into this raging sea without a life-jacket. I made sure I was accepted to a university "back home" as they say (whoever they are), and will attend when I return to finish my degree! I'm too cautious to do what some of those awesome adventurous types do and just GO. Maybe it's a fault, maybe it's a blessing? Who knows? I sure don't.

Anyway, the main purpose of this post was to show everyone some über cool photos of what my documents look like and to give you cool cats the low down on what some future blog posts will be when I get access to this blog again!

My Invitation Letter, JW202 Form, and Plane Ticket Confirmation Sheet, Cautions Taken

My Invitation Letter, JW202 Form, and Plane Ticket Confirmation Sheet, Cautions Taken

The Real Deal, Cautions Taken

The Real Deal, Cautions Taken

Now that the blurred out pictures are out of the way, I'll give you a heads up on what my up-and-coming blog posts will be about:

+ Packing For China and Plane Rides
+ Learning Chinese (tips, resources and more!)
+ About ImmerQi (Teach and Travel China Program, specfically)
+ 4 Newspaper Articles - Life as a College Student in China
+ Final Newspaper Interview(?)
+ VLOGS (?!)

I'll be in China officially the 21st of January! Hope to see you in 2016!

Posted by Kacey's Travels 21:01 Archived in USA Tagged china internship efl immerqi Comments (0)

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