By Connor Ferguson
Today was a Wednesday, which for most people is “Hump Day” and signals the middle of the workweek. Some people love it, some people hate it. For me, today is my Sunday. I woke up at 9, went to the gym, went shopping, lazed around at home for a few hours, went shopping again because I have the memory of a goldfish, and forgot the one thing I needed the first time, and that leads us to now.
Being an ESL teacher in China who works in a training school, my workweek is a little different from most other teachers. To begin with, I work weekends as well as 3 regular weekdays (for me it’s Monday, Thursday, and Friday, but this varies from teacher to teacher, with the most teachers working Wednesday to Sunday). Secondly, my hours vary from weekday to weekend, with weekdays being 2 pm to 9 pm, and weekends being 9 am to 6 pm. Lastly, my classes consist of up to (but not always) 12 students, with many of my classes being 5 to 6 students.
There are many benefits to this workweek that I have grown accustomed to over the four years I have worked at i2 Education.
• The first is that you do not have to deal with busy supermarkets and malls during the daytime. As most people are either at work or at school, these places are usually quiet save for the occasional grandparent with their grandchild. In a country with as many people as China, it is nice to get a few hours a week where you do not have to worry about wrestling through hordes of people to pay for your groceries. The cinema too. It may seem weird going to watch a movie at 2 pm on a Tuesday afternoon, but for a training schoolteacher in China, it is normal.
• This ties in perfectly to my next point: travelling. If you like to travel, then the training school workweek is perfect for you! As your weekends are most people’s workdays, travelling is nearly always during non-peak times. Also, as transport in China is fast and relatively affordable, timing your travel right can give you 2 full days in a new city. Just last month I took a high-speed train to Shaoguan to see the beautiful Danxiashan scenic area. The train was cheap and fast, the city was relatively quiet, and the scenic area was beautiful and almost empty. Conversely, a friend of mine travelled to Zhangjiajie on a Saturday and Sunday and told me he spent hours waiting on the side of a cold mountain for a bus. When you compare these two scenarios, training school teachers definitely have a huge advantage over everyone else.
• Next, we have late work hours during the week. Starting work at 2 pm gives me time in the morning to do what I want. I could go to the gym, cook food for the day, attend a Chinese class, or laze around in bed until I feel like getting up. Most people only get to do this on the weekend, but I get it 5 days a week. I often find that I am too tired after work to do anything, so it is nice to have most of my free time be before work. The downside to this: it messes up your sleeping pattern, which can be a nightmare when it comes to the weekend. But I will get to that.
• Lastly, because many other teachers living in China have a similar working schedule to you (with maybe one-day difference), you are never completely alone. Living in a foreign country can be a daunting task for someone who has lived in the same place their whole life. You have a new culture, a new language, new food, new laws, new everything. In all that craziness, it is nice to know that you are not alone. You’ll always find someone to talk to and help you out when you’re in need.
Other benefits include:
• More free time – if you have Monday and Tuesday off, then you will finish work at 6 pm Sunday and start work at 2 pm Wednesday, which gives you 5 more hours of free time compared to standard Monday-Friday jobs
• No rush hour – if you must travel to and from your campus for work, your unique working schedule means you will almost never have to deal with rush hour.
• Relaxing when other people are at work – it may be slightly schadenfreude-y, but there is something to be said about being able to relax knowing most people will be working at that moment.
“That’s all well and good” you may be asking yourselves, “but what about the cons? Surely there are more than a few downsides to working this kind of schedule.” Actually, aside from shift from weekdays to weekends (which you actually get used to very quickly), there is not really anything about this type of schedule that I do not like. Besides, it is far better to only have to wake up early 2 days a week rather than 5 days – something I am sure most i2 Education teachers agree with.
I am coming into my 4th year of teaching at i2 Education now, and in that time, I have grown to love many things about my job, with the workweek being just one. Being able to wake up late, go shopping during off-peak times, catch a movie in an empty cinema, or even travel to a nearby city for a few days are all things I just love to do, and my schedule makes it very convenient to do. While it can take some getting used to at the start, once you have it you will not want to go back. What do you guys think? What do you love the most about this type of schedule?