Day One in Luoyang. Today we spent the day orienting ourselves to our new surroundings. It was also an opportunity for us to go “back to school” – enjoy!

Originally posted 23/06/14 on TravelPod.

We arrived in Luoyang under the cover of darkness – and over 2 hours late. On the 40-minute ride in a bus without luggage compartments (kinda like the 40-30 to the Port Authority in NYC – inside thing), it was tough to see our surroundings due to severe humidity and external temps of 32 degrees Celsius at 10 PM. From what I did see, Luoyang appears to be much more of a provincial area with lots of industrial foundries. Numerous heavy machinery lots lined the companies along the highway. Interspersed between them was an uncanny mix of hotels, casinos, and extreme examples of poverty.

After a brief night’s sleep on a bed that was not much more than a bed sheet on a table combined with a pillow comparable to a Sac Magique, I quietly made my way downstairs at around 6:30 AM to get some “fresh” air – the sun still hiding behind the haze of smog. To my surprise, the track adjacent to our residence was filled with students gathered in groups. Suddenly, a voice booms over a loudspeaker that can be heard across the entire campus. Then, as if on cue, all of the students lined up military-style, and, seconds later, took off in perfect precision at a light run. Needless to say, I was shocked. Moreover, as the students rounded the corner and saw me watching, started chanting as if they were an army platoon. I later found out that this is how the students start each day. Mind blown.

After breakfast, we took a brief tour of the campus, and, just like in Beijing, it quickly dawned on us that we were going to be treated like rock stars. The Chinese are a very proud people, and making sure that their guest are treated well is paramount to them. The administration and staff at the Luoyang Language School went out of their way to hold doors, make sure we were comfortable, and repeatedly asked us if there was anything they could do to make our stay a pleasant one.

We headed to our first class of the day (Chinese) at 8 AM. As a teacher, it was nice to see that a school is a school no matter where you go. Kids in Luoyang laugh, smile, and are generally just like our students back home in Canada. They write on desks, forget their homework, and go thrashing down the halls yelling at the top of their lungs.

But one thing was certainly different – they were VERY happy to see us. We were mobbed as we walked down the halls. Students wanted to talk to us constantly. Some asked for autographs while others even offered us gifts. It was incredible. The genuine level of affection shown for us by our hosts is one of the most touching things I have ever seen. The admiration was echoed later that day at a luncheon held in our honor hosted by the Headmaster of the school. We were treated to a gastronomical feast in several courses. And, to top things off, we were showered with even more gifts.

Thought of the day:

The students here start class at 8 AM. They have 5 classes in the morning, 4 in the afternoon, and they another 3-hour study hall at night, ending at 10 PM. The children are in school for 14-hours/day and have some of the best test scores in the world.

Yay or nay?