Large Breaks During Work
February 21, 2017 1:58 AM   Subscribe

I've started a new job as a teacher in a primary school in China. I only work 20 hours a week, but every day has large gaps where I don't have a class (1.5 hour lunches, 1 hour exercise, etc). What are some tasks I can accomplish during these breaks? Any great habits I should develop? I have access to a breakroom and a computer and will be working in a built-up area.
posted by Trifling to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm assuming you're non-chinese and an ESL teacher?

How about finding a language partner and learning /practicing chinese? Plenty of people will want to practice english with you and you can in turn practice/learn chinese with them; alternatively you can pay someone just to teach could get a text book or 'zi tie'(字帖) to practice learning characters.

Can you go off-campus? Take a walk and explore the city. Take your chinese book to a local coffee/tea place.

1.5 hours during lunch is for a nap after lunch...that's always an option.
Exercise is also good!

Read books...Peter Hessler writes interesting books about China. (River Town is about his experience teaching there).
posted by bearette at 2:14 AM on February 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

I taught in a university in central China, and during our lunch breaks, I ended up playing a lot of basketball with my students. Helped me with learning the language, getting to know my kids, and with exercise, too. Not so much my jumpshot, there's nothing that will fix that.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:07 AM on February 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Learn to do any of a zillion fun and interesting things! Here are a selection of things that you can do, that only require you to carry a small amount of stuff, read a small amount of guidance, then spend lots of time:

juggle, quilt/knit/crochet, tie useful knots, tie impractical knots

play harmonica, recorder, found drums, get really good at whistling

whittle art, whittle pointy sticks

learn to sharpen knives really well

sketch people, sketch rooms, sketch things. Use crayons, pencils, charcoals, pens.

practice taking artsy photos with your cell phone

practice chess problems, get really good at chess or checkers or solitaire. Learn Go, which can also be great as a sort of solitaire.

Throw cards into a hat, throw cards into a watermelon, make houses of cards

stack coins in to bridges and spires and interesting shapes

Learn the local flora and fauna, get a decent paper field guide, find some apps, etc.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:11 AM on February 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Going out for lunch now and then is a good idea! Working on your food ordering vocab is super-useful, as is broadening your palate. Go on your own, explore with someone who knows the city better -- mix it up!
posted by lumensimus at 7:06 AM on February 21, 2017

Just want to add that China has a fascinating array of stuff going on, even on a single street (and I see that you are in Harbin, certainly lots going on there) so if you can get off campus for a walk (and from my experience that should definitely not be a problem for you) you won't have to practice stick-whittling in your room ;)
posted by bearette at 7:43 AM on February 21, 2017

assuming you're non-chinese and an ESL teacher?

Since you are a teacher, why not start blogging on your experience? This should facilitate your time and routines.
posted by mountainblue at 8:16 AM on February 21, 2017

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