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SFU Co-op Student

Kite Festival
Weifang, China - The Kite Capital of the World
Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism
My work as a Development Coordinator is interesting. I teach English one day a week to elementary students and work on developing and marketing new English curriculum and programs

So since I last wrote to you all on the plane, I arrived in China after a gruelling thirty-hour journey.  The plane trip to China, looking back now over my first month here, seems to be an accurate reflection of the procedures in Weifang. Let me explain. 

the author on a bridge over a lake
Carlie posing on one of the bridges over the manmade lake on Weifang University Campus, where she works.

Upon arriving at the airport in Vancouver I was told my flight with Air China had been delayed six hours. This meant that I would miss my connecting flight in Beijing but the airline would provide me and my other co-op companion, Aron, a hotel room until another connecting flight was found. Awesome, I thought, but the reality was not so awesome. 

Upon arriving in Beijing there was no one there to tell us where to go, who to talk to, or how long we would have to wait for transport. We waited at the entrance to the airport for almost two hours, along with about forty other Air China passengers and only one employee, who didn’t speak much English, was attempting to organize all of us. After boarding a bus and driving for over an hour (because the driver did not know where the hotel was), we arrived at a hotel and had to wait for one person to check in forty people. We slept for about two hours before heading back downstairs to eat and board the bus to take us back to the airport. It turns out that the hotel was only twenty minutes away! Thankfully, the rest of our journey proceeded without any more problems and we arrived safely in Weifang. It seems like organization and planning are not priorities for businesses in China! 

the author posing with her roommate
Carlie with roommate Joscelyne in front of the apartment complex where they live

Over our first week, Aron and I were shown around certain parts of the city by the three other coop students here from UBC, Joscelyne, Jackie, and Jenn. It has been fabulous having someone else here that speaks English and comes from the same city as us. I think it would be lonely if there weren’t any other foreign employees, especially due to the huge language barrier.

Upon arriving at our apartment complex I was expecting the worst after hearing how small the apartments were. I was pleasantly surprised. My apartment that I share with Joscelyne is huge, though sparsely furnished. This is especially true since both of the legs of my glass kitchen table became unglued and the entire table fell onto my lap. And yes, it hurt. I’ve found that the quality of the products sold here leaves much to be desired unless you want to pay an arm and a leg. It may be worth paying though, as I would like to keep my legs from being crushed by a slab of glass again. 

It is not all bad though, I don’t want to give you that impression. My work as a Development Coordinator is interesting. I teach English one day a week to elementary students and work on developing and marketing new English curriculum and programs. I also help coordinate and manage the hiring of new foreign employees. My job also entails creating new procedures and forms, as the company is only a few years old and is still growing. I assist in specific projects which include preparing brochures as well as organizing forums and conferences. 

the city Qingdao in China
a local city Qingdao, China

And there are perks to working in China. Today I’m leaving on a nine-day trip with Aron, Jackie, and Jen because we get a week’s paid vacation for Labour Week, a holiday that all of China is given. I’ll tell you about when I get back!

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