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Dalian Institute of Light Industry - pretty good!
Thomas Wang
Dalian
tw@canada.com
July 1, 2004 (Happy Canada Day to all fellow Canadians!!!)
I came to Dalian expecting the worst. To my pleasant surprise and maybe because I have learned to adapt from my previous experiences, my first term here at Dalian Institute of Light Industry has been pretty good. Oh sure, the school is a public school so I did not make that much money. But thanks to luck and obvious good impressions I gave the school's leaders, I was given TWO foreign teachers' work load and as such, I have been living comfortably on what many people know as the highest salary earned by any teacher in this school.

The school has its good and its bad. The bad include unmotivated students (mostly first-year students) but that's common when teaching public school students in China. The infrastructure is quite run-down because the campus is quite old. The noises from airplanes and jet fighters taking off daily from the airport which is about a 5-minute drive from the school (one of the take-off runways is actually right across the road from the school's front gate) can be quite unpleasant during lessons and when you are trying to take a nap in the afternoon (but one can get used to it soon). Things are a bit costly (5 yuan for a 1.25 liter bottle of Coke) as compared to Carrefour. Also, daily hill-blastings resulting in buildings shaking and trembling can make some people quite nervous. Last but not least, the school is located in one of the most remove areas of Dalian so there is not much happening around here other than restaurants. Downtown Dalian is 40 minutes away by bus which stop running after 10pm or 11pm and the apartment building gets locked up after 11pm (a "curfew"). If you have a good relationship with the caretakers and you want to have a night out on the town, then they will unlock the front door and let you in if you tell them in advance.

The good being an attentive and honest FAO. My concerns and needs are always met and resolved (including a revision to my contract's supplement) in a very short period of time. They have wined and dined me and the other foreign teachers more often than I ever did while in Qingdao (birthdays, welcomes, goodbyes). The apartment is BIG! I sleep on a queen-size bed. There are TWO airconditioners in the apartment. I have a Pentium 3 (or is it 4?) with 24/7 high-speed connection to the Internet (though during school days the speed can be brutally slow because in the afternoon thousands of students maybe online in the various computer labs throughout the campus). I have all the essential cooking utilities including a microwave oven in the kitchen but I have yet to used them because I always eat out. The bathroom has a bathtub and the sink has hot water too. On the downfall twice there was no water resulting in my not being able to take a shower in the morning. The living room has 3 comfortable sofas and a pretty big TV (I think I will buy a DVD player soon). The apartment is actually more like a hotel and any and all repairs needed are taken care of within 24 hours. There are so many drawers and cabinets. If you like loud techno music, the school has a small little bar that functions as the teachers dining room in the afternoon and a disco on weekends. The school's restaurant, though a tad dirty, offers many delicious northeastern dishes and also simple food like dumplings. There are plenty of small restaurants around the school so you can have a solid meal for less than 10 Yuan.

Because I don't look like a foreigner, it may explain why I haven't had any requests from students to come visit me (except froma few boys who wanted me to help them improve their English -- for FREE). I have had a few small gifts from my second-year students (how I will miss them) that all cost no more than 5 Yuan. It is the thought that counts and I will keep them forever. I am not here to score females (there are MANY gorgeous female students because this school has a modelling major) so I don't care that I don't have a personal fan club (I think most students still don't realize that I am not a student here though many have said I look a lot younger than my age). I do have a very good friend here and it saddens me that she is going to quit her job here.

I hope my second term will be as pleasant. If asked to return next year, I will seriously think about it. Dalian's weather resembles that of Vancouver's and it's also a very modern city with plenty of Western style restaurants and bars to offer foreigners.