Classes began yesterday for me. I'm teaching two sophomore English majors classes, two non-major oral English classes, and one non-major elective class. All of my classes are either mid-morning or afternoon classes. Last semester I had either early morning classes or night classes so having to teach in the afternoons is an adjustment for me. My elective class has 69 students in it which is the largest class I've had yet. I think it's too many. It's hard to be constructive with such a large class, especially in an oral English class. At least two thirds of these students have taken one of my classes before which means I need to come up with all new material for them (so much for regurgitating past lesson plans!).
Life is back to normal. All of the students (and our friends) are back from what I understand was a month of dull existence and are already busy with classes. We haven't been very active the last couple of weeks. The weather has been rather dreary so we've stayed inside and found various things to entertain us. Derek has been rediscovering his love for computer games. I've been organizing my computer. And, Brian? Well, perhaps Brian has been the most constructive of us all. A couple months ago I purchased a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of a beautiful green forested, grassy scene. The Monday before last I decided to lay it out on my coffee table and attempted to put some of it together. It wasn't long before I realized this was a puzzle from An Kang (the most horrible place in the world). There are only two puzzle shapes which means that every piece can fit together with nearly every other piece. Since the puzzle is all green (green trees and green grass), many of the pieces look like they could fit with many of the other pieces. So even if two pieces fit together perfectly and look like they should fit together, it's very likely they aren't actually a match. On the back of the puzzle is a lettered grid, without which the puzzle would be impossible and with which the puzzle is nearly impossible at worst and unbelievably frustrating at best. Brian has spent the past week meticulously matching each piece with its location in the picture on the box and placing it in its location on the table. He has shown more patience than most people could and at 11:59 last night, he finally finished it! Well, all of it minus the one piece our friend Orange kidnapped earlier in the week. We thought it would be funny (at least to us) for Brian to finally complete this ridiculous puzzle only to realize one piece was missing. I did feel mildly bad about the whole thing, but it was pretty funny to hear how he threw my furniture around looking for that one lost piece of the puzzle! When the notorious piece is finally returned, we will be giving the puzzle its proper farewell by watching it go up in flames. Now as you can tell by this rather long paragraph about the effects of a jigsaw puzzle on our lives over the last week, we have been rather bored since returning from vacation and having no classes to teach!
One of the American teachers at the medical school, Brad, will be getting married in April to a Chinese lady from Nanning (southern China). Her name is Min. Derek, Janis, and I got the chance to meet her when we went to Nanning for our Vietnam passports in January. She doesn't speak English, but she is so nice and friendly (and cute!). Anyway, last week we learned from Brad that she went swimming in January! She will be moving to Shiyan sometime after the wedding, and we are really looking forward to having her here.
Two nights ago, Michael, a student from our school, decided to go swimming as well. He's a really thoughtful guy and very intelligent too. Michael will be searching for a job in the coming months. I think he already has one job offer in Shanghai, but he seems to be looking around for better deals.