Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Day in the Life

After a week of adjusting and a week of training, my third week here in Hong Kong was closest to what I can expect for a typical one during my time here. That’s to say it was my first full week teaching at my school in Kowloon Tong. For my third post, I’ve decided to describe what happens during an average day in my new, vastly different life.

  • 6:00 am (all times are approximate by the way): Alarm goes off. I’m using a cheap clock I bargained for at a market in Mong Kok on Hong Kong Island. My goal is to leave the house by 6:45 to give me plenty of time to eat breakfast near work. I then walk through Mang Kung Uk Village to the bus stop about eight minutes away. Here are some photos of what I see on this walk.

  • (On a side note, Ben, myself, and our white Belgian neighbor are the only Westerners in are village. It’s a great cultural immersion to say the least and I'm excited to be living here on a more permanent basis. Ben took me in as a roommate! On a side side note, the Belgian guy lost his temper the other day and threw some of his furniture and stereo equipment off the balcony that I had to step around the next morning. I think he’s calmer now as I saw him walking around with his wife/girlfriend earlier today.)

  • 6:50: Catch a minibus to the MTR station. Minibuses look like this and carry a maximum of sixteen people, no standing allowed. If there are sixteen on board, they pass you by. But they go by so often that this is rarely a problem. I’ve only been declined a ride once so far and that was after work in the evening rush. There are two mini buses that come by and they each go to different MTR stations, both of which are on the way to work. I just take the first minibus that comes as the prices and ride times are similar.
  • 7:05: Get on an MTR train. MTR stands for Mass Transit Railway, which is a network of high-speed trains that can get you just about anywhere in the city. Sometimes they’re underground, sometimes above. The MTR is a masterpiece of efficiency and what every traffic-clogged American city should study. User friendly, affordable (my daily commute is about $1.50 US for a 20 mile trip) constantly running and expansive, the MTR system, at least from my perspective, is the ideal public transport set up. Of course, everyone realizes this and they are usually packed.
  • 7:30: Arrive at the Kowloon Tong MTR station. From there I walk to Pacific Coffee Company in the Festival Walk Mall where I get a nice muffin and caffeine of some variety. I savor this time when I can just sit and read or listen to music or both. It’s worth it to wake up earlier so I can have this period of relaxation before work. The school is about a hundred feet from the MTR station, as is the mall in the other direction. Sooooo convenient.
  • 8:30: The workday begins. The first class doesn’t start until 9, so I usually spend that half hour preparing for the lesson. Then, my teaching schedule has four consecutive classes that take me to up to lunchtime. For exactly what happens in a class, you can look at last week’s post. Four in a row is pretty tiring and by lunch, I book it back towards the mall.
  • 12:00: Lunch. I usually get something at the mall grocery store (called “Taste”) and head back up to the tables just outside the coffee place. Sweet and sour chicken, BLT, sushi, I have lots of choices and have only tried a few so far. After eating, I head back to the school and read or take a nap in the padded play area. Since our lunch break is all the way to 1:30, this is feasible and oh so very nice.
  • 1:30: Afternoon classes. My afternoons have either two or three classes depending on the day. This is the time I’ll make lesson plans for the following week or work on learning new songs to teach the group. The last class ends at 4:30, and that last hour is spent cleaning up, planning lessons if I need to, and/or browsing the web while waiting for 5:30 to roll around.
  • 5:30: Sign out. I head towards the MTR station and back to the house by train and bus. Since the house is fairly far from any major stores or restaurants, I’ll usually get dinner and random stuff I may need or want (like a guitar yesterday) during this time along my route. When I get home, I’ll usually just chill out and talk to Ben or read.
  • 9:30: Bed time. It seems very early, but I always fall asleep in a few minutes after hitting the futon. There are no two ways about it—this is a tiring job. But of course there are still weekends!

With a half day Saturday, Sunday’s the only full day off I have so I try to always make the most of it. Last Sunday, the 17th, I went to the Tian Tian Buddha on Lantau Island and took some rad pictures. Or at least I think they’re rad.

So that about sums it up. Free time is precious, but the salary is so good that we can do whatever we want with it. For example, for the summer break in late August, I’m currently debating between vacationing in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh or Taipei. Decisions decisions decisions. And for what it's worth, when I get around to it, I'll be posting tons more photos on Facebook. This is just an appetizer.

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