Believe In The Power Of Santa!

I bought myself an early Christmas present the other day, an MP3 player. That’s right folks, I own a cell phone AND an MP3 player – technically an MP4 player. Man, have I embraced the 21st Century or what?

Though it’s no iPod or Lycra, it’s not bad. It only holds 256 MB of stuff, but it has a little video screen that I can watch video on, it does voice recording, has an FM tuner and a couple of other things (ebook reader, phonebook, games).

The best part though is I paid the ripe ole price of 350å…ƒ (about $50 CAN). I mean, it’s not Sony, or even a Korean brand, in fact… it’s some generic Chinese brand, but it’s got a warranty and all that, so meh.

In other news, this morning I went to see the new school I’m going to be subbing at for the next four weeks or so. I’m going to be working there for the next four Wednesday afternoons for about four hours. It’s quite decent because I’m going to be doing it as over time hours, which Future School pays 100 RMB for. For all those folks back in Canada, that’s about $15/hour.

This was my first foray into a public school, and I must say I’m impressed. The school is massive and has just loads of kids/classes. Each class is well-sized though, at only about 30 kids per class (not bad considering that the country’s norm is between 50 and 80). The other big difference over Future School is that because this is their regular school, regular school rules apply, which means the kids are on their best behaviour. At FS we get the kids after they’ve spent a grueling week under the pressures of ‘fail and die!’ They get to our school on the weekend and most have figured out that if they piss about, nothing really happens to them. The result is a chaotic mass of kids that can sometimes be hard to control. Mostly it’s alright, but it will be interesting doing these hours at the regular school and seeing how it compares.

The other thing I did today was meet with a woman about where I’m going next. Last week we had a rather cool guy named Jason sub at our school for one of the girls while they were in Beijing and he told me a bit about his job at public schools. He used to work at FS, but moved to the public sector in August. He mentioned they might need people for March (when my contract at FS ends), so I called the woman that sets it up and we met this morning. It looks like the deal is thus: About 7,000 RMB ($1,000 CND) a month for 11.6 hours a week – ah, yeah. That’s $22/h CND… granted it’s not FULL TIME, but even if you take out 800 RMB for an apartment (they don’t pay for it), it still leaves me with more that I’d make a FS working twice as many hours. Needless to say I told her I was well interested. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.

The other cool thing Maggie and I are doing now is Mystery Shopping. I can’t say what we’re mystery shopping, as it’s a breach of our contract, but it’s ace. Basically we just go to the place, check out some pre-established criteria of how the staff should act, how the place should look and the quality of the product, fill in a form, and voila! 50 RMB (plus the cost of the product) in our pockets. Pretty nifty for like 10-20 minutes work.

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