professor abbey

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I received my schedule and textbooks Sunday, and the very next day I started teaching on Monday. I was originally told I wouldn't be teaching the first week, but if I've learned anything in China so far, it's that you have to keep and open mind and be flexible and ready for anything. 

I'm teaching eight classes this semester with over 30 students in each class. The freshmen have military training for the first three weeks, so I haven't had them in class yet. I am only teaching English majors (which is the actual dream.) They speak and understand English so much better than other majors. 

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The first class was just introductions. Classes are one hour and 45 minutes, so I introduced myself, explained the class rules, and then did get to know you activities with the students. My first class on Monday started at 8 a.m. I arrived in the class at what I thought was extremely early (7:30) because I had no idea where to go, but over half of my class was already in the room ready to learn. 

They were shocked when they came into the class. They didn't expect to have a Chinese foreign language teacher who is fluent in English. They love foreigners. I was very afraid they wouldn't like me because I didn't look "american," but if anything it has been a good conversation starter. 

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All of my classes have gone well so far. I basically start out with giving them a pep talk. I tell them they are the best English speakers on campus, and that they should be confident when they are speaking. I told them the classroom was a safe place to practice and that everyone makes mistakes. A lot of them are terrified to mess up in front of their class and in front of a fluent English speaker, but I definitely make mistakes in front of them all the time. 

They seem to respond well to my classes. I only have each class once a week so learning names with faces will be a little harder, but I am so determined to do it. 

They are all very intrigued about my life and how good my English is. They tell me all the time I was so lucky to be raised in America. In every class I have multiple people come up to me and ask if we can go eat or hang out sometime. They have been very sweet to me. They are all very helpful.

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Monday night my class monitor and his roommate gave me a tour of the campus. They spent a long time with me, and I felt kind of guilty because Chinese students spend much more time studying than American students. The boys were with me for probably five hours which means five less hours they could've studied. It was good to have meaningful talks with them though on the first day. 

I would say things are going well here in Wuhan, China, and I'm excited for the rest of the semester!

Abigail Cooper