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Re: [pcchina] couples in china

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  • carrie norbeck
    Hi Tina, Sorry it has taken me forever to write back--your message got buried in the bottom of my inbox and I just re-discovered it. I m happy to talk about
    Message 1 of 4 , May 4, 2004
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      Hi Tina,
       
      Sorry it has taken me forever to write back--your message got buried in the bottom of my inbox and I just re-discovered it.  I'm happy to talk about my PC experiences, especially about being married in PC!
       
      First, to answer your specific questions.  About being separated during training--this will only happen if you guys are in different sectors.  My husband was TEFL and I was EE, so we were split up.  If you are both TEFL or EE, than I'm pretty sure the staff will keep you guys together for training.  They were totally apologetic about having to split us up, and did everything they could to facilitate us seeing each other during the 3 months of training.  (You said something about yours being cut short--why is that?) 
       
      There was only one EE site, and they assigned Brandon to the closest TEFL training site to mine.  We were only about an hour appart.  Both of our host families were told beforehand about us being married, and they were so excited to have us come for visits on the weekends.  The host families are amazing, and will fall all over themselves to help you.  One of our training staff travelled with me on the bus one of the first weekends, so I could learn how to get back and forth to visit Brandon (my husband).  The PC staff was totally supportive of us travelling to see each other on the weekends, as long as we were still spending time with one of our host families.  (The idea being to not "skip out" on any of the host family/training time.) It was actually pretty cool to be split up for the summer. Not to be appart from each other, that sucked, but to have the opportunity to really get to know two different host families, two different training groups, and two different cities. And our Chinese was better, since we didn't have each other to talk to in English!  
       
      As for our time at site, being married was a pretty cool thing.  The Chinese hold marriage in great respect and seemed to treat us as more "mature" people (even though we were only 24/25 similar ages to most of the other foreign teachers/PCVs).  Many of the volunteers have a really hard time getting to know the adults and faculty at their universities because the Chinese faculty seem to think that the PCVs would rather be with the students.  (which may be true some of the time!)  But because we were married they approached us more often, invited us to dine with them, to do more "adult" things.  I know I really appreciated this.  I was able to develop many more peer level friendships with my co-workers at the college.  Plus, because we were married we were given a family apartment and a bigger bed!  (Your digs will totally depend on your site. It could be anything.) 
       
      As for banquets, being married was another bonus.  The Chinese are HUGE on banquets, and drinking and toasting..  You will learn to perfect your over the shoulder liquer toss.  A lot of the single volunteers have a tough time being at banquests and not drinking--there is a lot of pressure to do so.  Having a spouse can definitely help you.  For the girl, you can just plead utter feminity, bat your eyes and say you can't do it.  (Even if you do normally drink, which I do--I just tried to never do it in public.  That way the pressure ceased.  They just started buying me juice.  It was pretty sweet.)  For your husband, it will be more difficult.  The pressure on guys is even worse.  But, they can fake it too.  Or, my husband would use me as an excuse sometimes.  I didn't mind.  The Chinese can get pretty sloshed, it's not a pretty picture.  Also, single volunteers often feel pressure to go out to these things all of the time (the "I must be social or I'll never have any friends" panic) and stay late, and drink because everyone else does.  Being married, you come with a built in friend.  Not attending every banquet will not limit your ability to make friends with the Chinese.  So skipping some, or leaving early, is easily forgiven if you are married.  They assume you'll want to have alone time together at home. 
       
      Ok, I've babbled on quite a bit here.  If you have any other questions or need clarification on any of this stuff I've written please feel free to ask.  You'll notice that most PCVs are rediculously happy to talk about their experiences if you'll let them.  :-)  My husband and I just got home from Jamaica (where we transferred to after China) and we're loving talking all about PC to everyone who'll ask! 
       
      Hope your last few months are passing happily--enjoy all the variety in food.  Once you get to China, it's all Chinese!  Good Chinese, but Chinese nonetheless. (If you want any advice on kitchen stuff to bring, let me know.  We ended up cooking a lot of meals at home, just to have some variety in our diet!) Love, Carrie

      kowen9 <kowen9@...> wrote:
      sharlene-

      thanks for your willingness to share your expertise. more than
      anything, i feel overly fortunate that i get to serve in china with
      my husband, but i do have a few questions. i'm assuming that during
      training we will be split up, but can you tell me how often you got
      to see your husband, if at all? it shouldn't be as big of a deal for
      us because our training is cut short but it is still nice to know
      what to expect. also, did you face extra challenges at your site
      because you were married? i have heard a lot about the infamous
      banquets and am wondering how you handled those. we are so excited
      to get going and i can't believe that we still have 3 more months,
      but i know the time will fly.

      tina


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    • kowen9
      Carrie- You stories are so encouraging, and we truly appreciate you sharing them with us. I feel much more at ease, and even though we will most likely be
      Message 2 of 4 , May 6, 2004
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        Carrie-

        You stories are so encouraging, and we truly appreciate you sharing
        them with us. I feel much more at ease, and even though we will most
        likely be split up during training, it's nice to know that there is
        at least a possibility of seeing each other (when I was in PC
        Morocco, the couples had no way of getting together during trainging
        on our one day off a week). You asked why our training is cut short.
        Well... I can't say for sure but they told me it was because our
        original departure date was supposed to be in mid-June. Because of
        some logisitics, we were pushed back until July 20th, but they are
        unable to extend training longer due to the semester starting in
        September. Therefore, we only have about 6 or 7 weeks. Having been
        through a PC training once before, I am very relieved about this,
        although I know that the extra language training would be beneficial.
        It's a give and take. I'll keep the questions rolling as they come to
        me.

        Thanks again,
        Tina
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