HLiuyang No. 1 School, Hunan Province
Liuyang, also known as “The city of Fireworks” is located in the Hunan Province. It’s one hour away from Hunan’s capital, Changsha. Liuyang has a population of about 1.3 million. It has a blend of both city live and a mountainous countryside. Changsha Huanghua International Airport is located 40 minutes from Liuyang.
The Hunan Province is known for their spicy food. Many times, if you go to a restaurant, they will ask you whether or not you would like spicy food (they understand that foreigners are not too accustomed to their style of spice). You can find many types of food here. There is a KFC and McDonald's. As far as Western restaurants are concerned, there is a place called The Brass Cafe. There are two of these restaurants located close to both entrances of the school. There is also a pizza shop called Nala pizza. If you walk around the city, you can find various BBQ restaurants, along with many on-the-go places if you need to grab something quick to eat. The school will give you a lunch card. Again, the food can be a bit spicy at times, but not overly spicy.
3. Things to do.
West Lake Mountain and Liuyang River are very close to the school. You can climb the mountain and there is a tower located at the top and you can view both the city and countryside at the same time. You can go for a walk along the Liuyang River and view many of the various places located along your journey. An iMax movie theater is located 10 minutes (walking time) from the school. There are also many fresh fruit shops located all around Liuyang. There is also a walking street in which you will find many clothing shops, restaurants, and places in which you can purchase small necessities and goodies. If you would like to escape Liuyang for a day and experience a much larger city, you can take either a bus or carpool to Changsha. It's about a 70-minute drive and you can find anything you need there, whether is items from Wal-Mart to more Western cuisine options.
If you ever need to take a taxi back to campus, tell the taxi driver (Yi Zhong Nan Men). This means, "Number 1 school, south gate". The south gate is the main campus gate.
Most of the adults in Liuyang speak very little, if not, no English. Many children and teenagers speak enough English for you to be able to communicate with them. Many people in Liuyang will stare and some will want a picture with you. They are only staring because they are curious. Most of the other foreigners here are for the fireworks business and a few other teachers from local schools in Liuyang.
In the summer, it is very hot. In the winter, it gets a bit chilly, but there is never any snow. If it does snow when you are in Liuyang, then it is a rare occasion. Most of the time when it is not summer, it will rain quite often.
6. Liuyang No. 1 School
My personal favorite part about teaching at Liuyang No. 1 School is the students. Don't be intimidated by the size of the class. The students are extremely friendly and eager to learn anything and everything about you. Also, don't be shy to join them in a game of badminton, basketball, or soccer when they have free time between 5-6:00pm. They really enjoy just being around you.
The teaching staff is very friendly. Many times, I will join them in a game of badminton or a hike up the mountain. They are also a great resource for any questions or concerns you may have.
The school itself looks like something you would find a picture book about China. Behind the senior level 1 building, there is a beautiful koi pond and garden where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll and relax. There is also a Confucius temple located right in front of the entrance to the school. They will ask for 10 yuan to walk in, but let them know you are a teacher and it is free.
7. The apartment
The apartment is basic, but it includes everything you need such as an office, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. It's quite spacious for a one person. The apartment is located between the female student dormitories and the senior classroom buildings. The apartment has 2 air conditioners/heater fans. It also has a washing machine and Internet connection w/wireless modem. There is also a washing machine included and a clothesline in front of your apartment to hang clothes. In hot weather, they will dry very quickly. During the winter, it takes a few days.
8. My Experience
I can honestly say that I have had a great time in Liuyang. Liuyang No. 1 School is a great school with good facilities. It's very easy to make friends and I would definitely recommend the school. My advice is to be open minded, try new things, be patient, and take the time to talk to people. You will have a great time!
Frequently Asked Questions & Quick Facts
City Size: Small city located in the northeast Hunan Province with a pop. of 1.3 million.
Regional Climate: Subtropical climate zone. Annual average temp. is 17.3 degrees C. Sunny during the summer.
School Size: 5000 students, 300 teachers (apprx.), 30 English teachers (apprx.), 2 foreigner teachers
Class Size: 65 students
Students' ages: 13-16
Students Skill level: Senior level 1: Intermediate - lower intermediate
Classrooms: Modern – computer, digital ceiling mounted projector, wall clock, 2 walls of blackboards, 4 doubled rows of desks, podium
Teacher's workload: 18 different classes, each with 65 students. You see each class once every week, and teach an average of 3-4 classes per day, each lasting 40 minutes. A schedule is given by the FAO. Weekends are free. One lesson plan will last you one week.
Nearby places: Changsha (capital of Hunan), Fenghuang (ancient village on the water), Zhangjiajie (The famed Wulingyuan Scenic Area)
Things to do for fun: Mountain hiking, the school's "playground" (basketball, football, ping pong, badminton), shopping in town and along the walking street, fruit markets, parks, relaxing farmland, many restaurants, KTV's, night clubs, bars, movie theaters, weekly fireworks.
Things to bring: Deodorant, cheese, bacon, syrup, microwavable popcorn, limes, western medicine, western snacks, alcohol/spirits, and Chinese/English reference guide.
Cost of Living: 300rmb-500rmb a month
The Confucius Temple located on the school's campus
An Overview of the eastern side of Liuyang
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