Come Monday and the madness begins...kids will be looking for their classes, some will be lost, inevitably. The day begins early with students needing to report to Student Affairs to get their personal pack containing textbook lists, stationery, uniforms, class locations etc. This will probably take half a day to get settled. Students' briefing begins at 2pm after lunch. Each department head is expected to give a short speech on their respective subjects.
It will be a cranky start for most of the new students but I suppose it will straighten out by end of the week. Since most of them can't speak proper English, the local teachers will have their plates full translating. Teaching assistants will be the hardest hit since most new students will mob them after school hours for tutorials. By mid semester it will be much better.
The older students will be sitting for semester commencement tests and like before most will fail miserably because of the long summer holidays. Most of them will not revise or even touch their books over the holidays. However, there are those who aim for top scores, these will do very well, scoring As all the way. I've come across students getting straight A*s for every paper they take. I can understand if it's subjects like History, Math and even Biology where you can study by rote and spill it all out during exams but how do you study Social Studies by rote? Some of these kids are just incredible. And they do speak respectable English to be fair, not near native but still very good English with little grammatical mistakes. We had a few who transferred to the Imperial College in the UK and they've returned with very good results.
I was thinking, why would parents spend hundreds of thousands sending kids to top universities overseas, get top grades and then return to work for RMB5,000 a month? It doesn't add up. I know that several of them actually stayed on when they graduated, took jobs, got married and settled over there but the majority came back after graduation. These returnees (sea turtles in their lingo) come back and start comparing what they had overseas and what they got here - most are disillusioned. We have a few local teachers who've returned from Australia, UK etc and find it hard to adjust back to local living standards. Many of them yearn to return to their overseas lifestyles and they do. The few years there must have given them deep impressions of how bad it is here for them and how they can better themselves overseas. I sometimes interview students who want to transfer to overseas universities. Most of the questions revolve around lifestyles and living environments, how they can benefit from it. You can see the excitement in their eyes when we show them images of people living in other countries. I suppose those who can afford it will want to go, for those who can't, they can only dream. Whatever it is, we can see that young people want more than what they have now and are willing to give it all up here to go to a foreign country where the pull is so strong. In time, I would imagine China will have it's problems of talents leaving the country. That is another story.
Last semester we had cooking classes where teachers had to come up with a dish they can do and demonstrate it. The school believes that students should grow up knowing how to take care of themselves. I think it's a great idea. Some of the teachers cooked very interesting dishes. With the different nationalities we have, the assortment was good and I had a good time eating much of the food.
This semester will be a long one, more than 4 months but with so many holidays in between I guess it's still manageable. Mid Autumn Festival is from 6th Sep to 9th Sep, then there's National Day holidays, so it isn't that bad.
The weather is cooling down a lot the last couple of weeks. Today is only 19c. With a few more days of mid 30s this and next month, the weather will be very nice and cool and I can start walking to school again. My office is on the 6th floor and without lifts I need to climb the stairs at least twice a day. I got into the habit of counting how many stairs there are, it makes the climb less tedious. Anyway, there are 128 stairs to the top and it makes good exercise for all. Everyone will be gasping and wheezing when they get up there.
Let's see what the new semester brings this time. Hopefully another good crop of students. Write more next time....
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