If one week took a long time to pass, the last three weeks must have shot past because it doesn't feel like that long since I arrived. Time milestones often don't really amount to anything significant other than a number and the end of a first month is hardly any reason to crack open a bottle of Chinese whisky; so let this just be a title to a blog, and let it at least trigger some appropriate, although premature, circumspection.
One of my original goals was to get my Chinese on the tracks and, although it is not great as I would have wanted it, it is definitely on its way - I'm reading The Reader, in Chinese. My plan to establish myself a mandarin life external to my English school loop hasn't even set itself up in the starting blocks, which is rather disappointing, but I haven't even really tried. I'm far too comfortable and routine now. I've completely revived my classroom teaching and am leaving my own stamp on the school, slowly but surely. Teaching in itself is a joy, anyway.
Some of the students are truly energising. There are two young men who do nightshift at their jobs and come in bright-eyed and busy tailed at the surreal hour of 7pm to start their days with English lessons. One was a complete beginner when I arrived - I was there for his introductory interview - who has probably the best smile of any student. He chats in a basic way quite happily with me now (I haven't been teaching him - just talking to him from time to time); I've tried to buy his briefcase bag off him for the last few nights but he is only just figuring that out. The other exudes the greatest exuberance for learning of anyone in the school; he doesn't stop smiling, even when he told me he was assaulted on the way to the school! Both have only just made their first steps toward learning the language yet look forward without fear. Talking to each is a great way to end a day, a shot of human delightfulness that, at the end of the day, is the best way to head home on.