Daily Life

Fall 2016 Semester Recap

I just finished my fall semester at Nan Hua University and I want to share some of my favorite things that happened with my students and friends in Hengyang during the past few months!

Teaching University Classes

This semester was great – I taught 7 Oral English classes to freshman at the University’s new campus.I’ve seriously loved getting to know my new students. The first few weeks are always a blur – when you have 200 students, its hard to remember names and faces in the beginning. But it gets easier, and each class takes on a personality of its own as they start bonding with each other. Every week just got better and better because I had more time to interact with them and learn more about them.


The main goal of their Oral English class is to gain conversational skills. We spent time discussing different kinds of speaking (impromptu, persuasive, storytelling) and also practicing intonation, emotion, and fluency skills. The best part about teaching Oral English is that I get to introduce these ideas and concepts and then have fun practicing it with them. We do a variety of activities in class – partner dialogues, group presentations, speaking games, etc.

There are so many things I wish I had known and done last year, and I know I still have lots of room for improvement as a teacher, but it feel so great to see them making progress and becoming more confident in their English speaking abilities.

This semester the University also asked me to help teach a weekly English class to doctors and nurses at the hospital affiliated with the school. Every week was a new department and we would introduce vocabulary and role play dialogue. Sometimes I would pretend to be a patient and it was so fun for them to cure my problems.


English Corner/Culture Lecture/English Events

Every semester the foreign teachers are asked to host an English corner and give a culture lecture at both the new campus and the old campus. Last year we chose our topics, but this year the topics were chosen for us. Other universities in China have these kind of events as well.

English corners are great because it’s an opportunity to meet other students who are interested in English, but it’s a little overwhelming because there are so many students wanting to talk to the foreigner.

My culture lecture was about English slang words – this was so fun! We had a great discussion about Chinese/English slang words and Chinglish phrases – the older students especially had some great comments. (The freshman still asked a lot of foreigner questions: Do you like China? Do you like Chinese food?”) My lecture was in November during the week of the American Presidential election so they had a lot of questions about that, too.

So Rachel what do you do besides play English games and take lots of selfies with students?

Great question 😉 We actually have a decent amount of free time and it’s fun to try some new things.

Learning Ukulele

One of the foreign teachers here (Alli) had an idea to buy a ukulele and learn it while she was here in China, and then Meredith and Dylan bought one too. I bought a guitar here and love playing it, but after seeing them learn to play ukulele, I wanted to try it too! We’ve all been practicing and will have jam sessions together sometimes.

Jammin with Dylan one night

The foreign teachers were asked to judge the English Association performance and also invited to perform. Meredith and I each played a song alone and then played a song together! It was fun to perform for the students.


Also the music store owner where I bought my ukulele and guitar is my friend, and he was playing and I was singing one day when he asked if he could take a video: http://www.meipai.com/user/1462465174

Chinese lessons

Our Chinese friend Young started giving Chinese lessons for foreigners last year, and he continued that this year for us. We meet weekly and go through various pronunciation exercises and vocabulary lessons. Wo de Zhongwen bu hao (my Chinese is bad), but it is improving little by little!

Laoshi (teacher) Young Ge

Chinese KTV and the Cinema

The Cinema and KTV are very popular among Chinese people! (And we foreigners like these things too.)

For New Year’s Eve all the foreigners went to KTV to sing and celebrate.



It’s also fun to go to the cinema with our friends – I’ve been to the movies more this semester than I did my total time in China last year. I’ve seen Dr. Strange (twice), Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, The Great Wall, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, and Star Wars Rogue One. While China’s movie release dates are a little delayed, it’s not such a long wait that we’re out of the loop.

The Great Wall gang


One weekend in October Meredith, Alli, and I took a girls trip out to Changsha, the capital city of the Hunan Province, to go shopping. We also went to Japan at the end of November! Read more about that here.

When I’m not doing those things, I spend time with my Chinese friends, eat wayyy too much Chinese food,  go to the gym (sometimes) and hang out in coffee shops (this happens more frequently than I want to admit).


All in all, it’s been a great semester. I’m so excited for this holiday though! We’ll be going to Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia (very briefly), and then Australia. If I don’t post again soon, have a happy Chinese New Year! (January 28).

Lots of love,



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