Monday, August 15, 2005


I had a job interview for an English Teaching position last Friday morning. I find job interviews uncomfortable at the best of times (don’t we all?), but when the interview is in another country it seems harder. Not knowing the ‘interview standards’ in this culture adds an extra element of nervousness.

My first thoughts upon waking up that morning was exactly what any girl in my position would think: “Oh my god, what will I wear?”

Allowing myself a morning cup (East Timorese ground coffee from Oxfam… yum), I finally settled on a fairly dressy outfit, knowing that English Colleges in Shanghai tend to view their foreign teachers as poster girls or guys for publicity purposes. Knowing that my skin colour is a consideration in the interview process is a very disconcerting thought, but today is not the day to protest: I need a job.

As it happens the college is just around the corner from our flat, and I can see it from the balcony while I dry my hair in the sun. Walking there I am conscious of the pit of nervousness settled in my stomach. “Take a deep breath Lou” I tell myself.

Oh, ew! I am overpowered by the stench of urine I have just inhaled deeply. Then I realize am walking past the public toilet. “Ok, take a deep breath through your MOUTH!”

In the five minutes it takes me to walk to the building I am drenched in sweat. What a great way to make a good first impression! After searching for a further five minutes for the lift I finally make it to the 6th floor.

True to form, the first thing my interviewer comments on is not my resume but my pretty pink top.


Addendum: The college caters for mostly young adults wanting to improve their English for business, study or travel opportunities, or just because it is the ‘in thing’ to do. I taught a trial class this morning and will have to teach two trial classes this Wednesday before officially being offered the job, but it looks promising. Finger’s crossed!

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