A Day in the Life of an ELIC Teacher in Hong Kong
-Wake up at 6:20. You take five precious minutes to make yourself look presentable for the day.
-Leave the room at 6:40. As soon as you step out of the A/C, your glasses fog up, your hair sticks to your face or frizzes out, and your skin already gets a sweaty sheen. Congratulations! You’re now ready to face your day in the booming metropolis of Hong Kong!
-6:45. After grabbing breakfast to go, you walk down the steep hill. Pass the Chinese lady who walks up the hill backwards every morning. Smile at her politely even though she looks at you like you’re an alien, like she’s not the one climbing a hill backwards.
-7:05. Take the brown metro line to Tai Wei. Watch the morning news from a baby-faced twenty year old on the television. Understand exactly none of it.
-7:15. Take the blue line to Kowloon Tong. Take the first crowded entrance you see. Shuffle behind someone until they realize you’re serious about making that train and not waiting. Ignore stares. Try not to touch any butts accidentally. Accidentally touch butts and hands and mentally refer to yourself as Maggie, the Great American Toucher of Butts and Popper of Personal Bubbles.
-7:25. Take the green line to Ngau Tau Kok. Six stops. You know this because you tilt your head back while standing and fall asleep a little. Not a lot. Just enough to know when to get off. This is the Hong Kong way as everyone is on their hour commute.
-7:45. Grab the 23M bus direction Ning Po #2. Everyone will gawk at you. Ignore but if it’s excessive, just wave enthusiastically. It properly shames people into looking away.
-8:10. Arrive at the school. You’re a little frazzled-looking and tired but it’s time to begin!
-Set up your class until 8:45. Martin, your first student, comes exceptionally early and he doesn’t like to talk in the morning. Play music as you lesson-plan and smile at him frequently. He’s a hard nut to crack.
-9:00. Your students trickle in. You take attendance, testing out every funny English name they have chosen for themselves. From the old-fashioned Carol, Ivan, Winnie, and Kitty, to hipster Miko, Vanus, and Rainie, they sure did get creative. Ask Zero and Wifi to change their English names. They choose Philip and Zelda.
-10:30. Break. You play American music but they ask you to find Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Avril Lavigne. You oblige and realize your superb taste in music is not transcendent of culture. Or tweenage girls.
-Resume class until lunch at 12:30. Gary, your joker student, will act up frequently. DO NOT LAUGH AT HIS JOKES NO MATTER HOW HILARIOUS THEY ARE. Gary lives for smirks and laughs. Encourage him outside of class and try not to crack a smile when he acts up. Silently laugh as you remember the Jimmy Fallon “Ew!” sketch and how they say the name Gary like “Gawhrray”. Only refer to Gary as Gawhrray to the other teachers.
-Go out to eat with students even though the area is pretty low-income and you’ll probably end up at McDonalds anyway. It feels like the boonies, with all the shirtless elderly men playing ma jong with their birds in their cages next to them.
-Resume class at 2. Now all the classes rotate and you get the other teachers’ classes. Do your best not to realize how awesome your class is compared to these hellians. Try not to laugh at names like Penguin, Monkey, Super Traog, and Aries. Teach as well as you can and have fun.
-Leave the school by 3:45. At this point, you’ve taken about 50 selfies with students, was asked your Instagram name 50 times, and made plans with them for a later date.
-Commute back. Try to keep your energy as much as you can even though your feet keep being rolled over by wizened old people and their heavy trolleys.
-Climb the hill in the humidity. Make it up the mountain by pretending you’re the first woman to cross the French Alps and you need to smash the patriarchy or that you’re an Alliance spy delivering a secret message across an enemy’s mountain range. Feel stupid when you get to the top, out-of-breath and sweaty. Chill in those clothes until 9:00, after dinner and lesson-planning.
-You’re showered, ready for the next day, and in bed by 9:45.
-After school, head to one of the massive, massive mega-malls on any stop on the metro. Be amazed by the constant, intrusive media and ads. Feel bad about yourself because you don’t look like a hyper-sexualized Asian lady with the skin of an albino baby, but only think this for a split second. Even the Baby-Faced Asian Albino model doesn’t look like that.
-Grab dinner at any one of the restaurants. Feel horrified that you spent $40 on a tiny meal, then remember the conversion. God bless the conversion.
-Try to grab Wifi. Look at Facebook. Look at CNN. Check your 100 Instagram notifications from all your students. Within twenty minutes, you’re done with the Internet for the next four days.
-Take the metro back. If it’s your lucky day, you may even have a seat open. Begrudgingly give it to a bossy wizened old lady with a trolley who will continue to give you the stink eye for the rest of the ride back.
-Climb the hill, sweaty and disgusting. You’re in bed by 9:45.
Now repeat! That’s the perfect formula for the time of your life teaching in Hong Kong!