First, let me apologize for our absence. We’ve been super busy lately and, unfortunately, our blog has suffered by becoming stagnant. Our bad. In the works is a post all about our visit to Zhuhai to see the world’s largest “aquarium” and our walk through Macau. This past weekend, we spent our Dragon Boat Festival holiday in Hong Kong with Spenser’s family (it was a delightful treat to finally see some family members after being away for so long), and this week our school is preparing for the College Entrance Examination, otherwise known as the horrifying gaokao (pronounced GOWCOW).
Now, if you thought the SATs or ACTs were scary, you’re wrong. At least you can take those tests multiple times in one year. The gaokao can only be taken once a year and it is the ONLY way you can get into a university in China. It’s so important that students do nothing but study and review for the gaokao in their entire last year of high school (that’s why none of us teach senior 3 students–they’re already occupied). The pressure to do well on this test in order to get into a good college is ridiculous and forces months and months (and years and years) of anxiety upon student’s heads. Basically, this test determines your entire future and, guess what?! It’s happening THIS WEEKEND.
Currently, it seems like our entire school has been turned upside-down in preparation for this massive test. It’s only Thursday and all of our students have been shipped home early so the school could clean and prep the rooms. If this was an American high school, this would be no big deal, but remember that our students don’t change classrooms. Ever. They’re always stuck in their classroom and the teachers must travel to the different classrooms, not the students. In turn, a surprisingly large amount of books, bags, and general crap accumulates in the classrooms so the deep cleaning is definitely necessary. And remember how most of our students leave Friday afternoons to go home for the weekend and come back Sunday evening? Not this week. No one is allowed within the school except for the senior 3 students from Friday to Monday which is going to be just great for Spenser and myself because we have to grade finals in our office this weekend as well. Breaking in to our office tomorrow should be…fun.
Did I forget to mention that it’s also finals season? Well, at least it is for us. Our teaching contracts are finally up on the 15th which means that next week is our official last week of school, even though our students still have school until July 12th. The senior 2s next week are going on a field trip to an amusement park in Dongguan, so I’ve already had my last class with some of my favorite (and, not so favorite) classrooms. They all wanted to take pictures with me at the end of it and we were all equally sad and somewhat excited to be done (ok, I was excited, but most of them were sad. Except for my Wednesday classes…I think my 8:00am class was just happy to not have to see my hyperactive face in the morning anymore. HA! Suckers).
The school bused out all of our students today. It was kind of sad to see them go. They were all waving at me as I walked by so I took some pictures.
Four classes left. That’s all I have. Spenser has 6. I won’t know what to do with myself until we get home in July. Wait, yes I do! Spenser and I are in the planning stages of one last China hurrah before we go home–Shanghai, Xi’an, and Chengdu (PANDAS!). It’s unbelievable that we only have 33 days left.