Tag Archives: Teaching Abroad

Blog Official ~ I’m #Moving!

19 Jun

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time ⌚to make the official blog 🖋announcement📣 – I’m moving again!  I’ll be staying here in China🗺, but after 3 years in central Henan I’m going North. Way north. As in Arctic Circle ❄ level north!  

We will be moving to a city called Changchun in the province of Jilin.  For those of you living in China, it’s up by Harbin – land of the ice sculptures. For those of you who have no idea what those words even mean – it’s up in the arm of China that is surrounded by Mongolia (great! Horses 🐴!), Siberia (Brrrrrr💂), and North Korea (0_0)❌❗.  

china-provinces-map

See the blue circle in the map up there? That’s Changchun.  I’m moving clear up to the land of Winter Olympics⛷🏂⛸, Forests with wild Bears 🐻 and Tigers, and Deer Antler soup. 😵 Craziness I tell you!

No, actually it looks like it will be really nice.  😀 The university 🏫 is called NorthEast Normal (NENU) and I will be working with the joint program with Rutgers University 🏫.   I will be teaching Economics 💹 and International Business 📈 this semester.  Economics and maybe some other classes next semester. The hours are a bit more than at my current university, but the pay is better, the students are of a higher academic quality (1st tier univ. instead of 4th tier univ.), I get most of the same benefits🚪, and it’s a new adventure 📷 awaiting me!

I was delighted to find out that one of my students and good friends 👭(Simon and his girlfriend Alice) live about 15 minutes away from my school. They are moving home and already invited me to BBQ.  Such a relief to have someone in the area!  I have two students👩👩 from Mongolia that I am hoping to get a chance to visit, and the train goes from Changchun directly to Moscow💂!  🚉 Course it takes a week one way, but still – I think I can get up to see Russia.  Not taking time to see North Korea ❌ – I’m sure it’s lovely, but not my cup of tea. Still, that’s a lot of new open doors 🚪 waiting to be checked out!  😀

I’ll keep you up to date on the details as I go.  My schedule 🕔 this week is insane.  Tomorrow I leave at 7:30 for the city (one hour) to get a Physical 😷done (surprise! wasn’t expecting this – just found out this afternoon). Then on from there a 3 hour trip to Beijing 🚝 (+ 1.5 hour subway ride to my stop) for some government paperwork on Wednesday.  Then back to school 🏫so I can give Final Exams on Thursday. Friday, back to the city to pick up my physical 🏥results. Back to school 🏫to grade and get signatures.  Then on Saturday, entering grades into the computer. Sunday off to Changchun ✈to get all my paperwork complete. Monday back to school 🏫to pack and get ready.  It’s a wild ride, but I am so excited to welcome the new year! 

#Astrill VPN 2017

4 May

Astrill VPN

If you pay any attention to my blog, you’ll know that for the last 3 years I have been living abroad. The world has many wonderful aspects to it (the mountains are GORGEOUS!), but stable and safe internet service is not one of those. My friend recently took her computer back to the States after a trip abroad to be repaired and the tech guy said she had more than 200 viruses on her system.  

So if you aren’t looking to break firewalls and get into sites you shouldn’t be getting into, why would you want a VPN?  You can find my list of the pros and cons of a VPN here. In general, I like the security a VPN provides to me, whether at home or abroad. I still use my VPNs in the US, especially if at a public location to avoid the same hacks, viruses, and trojans I worry about while traveling.  A VPN can help keep you fast and safe. Sometimes. Depending on which VPN you choose.  Also, it sometimes helps me bypass technical issues in the system. For example, my university uses Blackboard, but it does have random glitches that drop it a lot.  About 25% of the time, it only works if the teachers use a VPN.   When other teachers are down and out, those with a VPN can still get on.

To be honest, I actually go back and forth between Astrill and VyprVPN which runs at about $80/year for 1 device or $100/year for 2 device. Another one recommended to be was ExpressVPN which runs at about $100/year for 1 device and 1 phone/ipad (I’ve never tried them so I have nothing to give you for Express).   

After more than 3 years as an Astrill user, I thought I would offer you a report on how it’s going.  Continue reading

Cheating #China Style

19 Apr



Cheating China style 😰  So annoying.  No notes mid-term exam, somehow they had magic notes under the keyboard.  ‘Teacher, It’s not mine. I Don’t know where it came from!’

Funny. . . You’re the only one in this seat. 😡  How do they even read a font that small?  

Dance-Off Party

12 Dec

These are my amazing students! As part of our Business Negotiations class, I asked them to prepare a group dance. They had to work together and we voted on who had the best dance. There were some GREAT ideas here, and I was really proud of them. Make sure you watch the last dance!

 

Exam Day!

19 Apr

Had our first major Mid-Term exam yesterday (your today). Then we took our online computer exams – Three classes of students in 6 hours (+ another 2 hour class I taught). Busy Day!

DSC_0909DSC_0901 DSC_0910

Life in China ~ Bring It (Managerial Econ Style)

22 Mar

😛 I am teaching a class of students whose English is particularly bad, but I had them last semester too and we have been moving along. It takes translating every couple of words (money, war, economy, market, cash, coin, card) to communicate, but we were happy with our steady if slow pace 🙂 

Then Today, I had two new students join the class from Int’l Trade 1 (the best students, include one who has excellent English). At the beginning, I asked the students to translate one of the words as usual. Normally it takes us a bit to look it up and figure out a Chinglish version. Now, immediately the new boy spits out verbatim the precise 3 sentence long definition from the textbook by memory. 0_0 It was the funniest thing. The entire class stopped, turned and stared at him. One girl threw up her hands, another started groaning. The entire group almost in unison went “ooooohhhhhh” and one actually WHIMPERED. LOL. He jerked back and looked around. After that he figured out pretty quick the others weren’t at that level. 🙂 Seriously, we’re working at “this is called demand” level and he’s off on QD = a + bP + cT + . . . . level. Boom. . . mic dropped, bar raised.

Life abroad: Vypr VPN

21 May

**I fixed the prices – I was doing it monthly, but I went back and re-calculated the price based on an annual purchase 🙂 Much cheaper that way!

Vypr VPN

A while back, I did a review of Astrill’s VPN service and quite a few of you were interested in learning more about other VPN services!  

The internet is a wonderful, beautiful place full of friends, libraries, travelers, and fellow photographers. It is also a dark and scary place full of perverts, hackers, and identity thieves. Personally, I want to be able to access the first group while putting myself at less of a risk of the second group! Wouldn’t you agree? 🙂

 

I’ve now tried a few VPN programs here and there, and I wanted to keep you updated on my findings.  

VYPR

I had heard about VyprVPN before, since quite a few people at my institution like to use the program instead of Astrill.  If any of you have been following my updates and the news, you would know that Astrill has been off and on recently.  I’ve had a lot of problems where it doesn’t work on my IPad, and it is frequently stopped working on my computer as well. I have days where it is not operating and right now, about once a day I have to turn it off and re-boot the program. Plus, they recently had to put out a warning that a government in Asia had seized their servers in an investigation. While that doesn’t affect me, a lot of users weren’t happy that they were that vulnerable.

So when I recently was given the opportunity to test out VyprVPN, I thought I’d give it a try.  The people I know who use it gave it pretty good references through last year, and now here I’ll give you info on my experiences with it. 🙂

In interest of comparing this with Astrill, I’ve used the same 2+ people on several devices as my basis for both.

Price: $100/year (billed annually).

Review:  There is a basic plan ($80/yr)  that has almost all the features (minus: the Firewall, some cloud storage, other protocols), but it only allows for 1 simultaneous connection. Given that my family has two people online most of the time, 1 connection wouldn’t be enough.  So I need to get the VyprVpnPro system at $100/yr.  It comes with everything I need, and includes 2 simultaneous connections.  You would definitely want to buy it annually, the price almost doubles if you do it monthly.

You can start with a 3-day free trial, and cancel it if you don’t like it. I like this process, because it lets me see if it will really work before I hand over that much money.

If you do decide Vypr is for you, go through this link for an extra 50% off your first month 🙂

Installation: Easy (very)

Review: There were no problems with Installation, it downloaded smoothly and started right up. One small confusing thing is that the website for Vypr is called GoldenFrog, so go to http://www.goldenfrog.com to set up an account.  You’ll start by setting up the account and getting your username and password.  Then you need to download the program.

Download process is easy, just double click to open the installation program and walk through the steps. Unlike with Astrill, there were no problems with the Proxy Settings on my computer, the instant I downloaded it, it went to work!

Use: Easy (pretty much)

Thankfully, the interface of the program is pretty easy to use. If you have a techno-dummy on your hands, they can use this without too much trouble.  

When I turn on my computer, I open the program from my desktop.  You can set it up to start automatically if you want.  The box will look like this:

Untitled picture

If you want to just connect right away, just click the blue connect button. If you want to change locations, click the exclamation mark looking blue button.  

The little gear in the top right corner is where you can change the protocols.

That’s all there is to it! Just click connect and then close the program when you’re done.

Access: Scattered 

First, let me say that this part may be unfair to Vypr.  Many people in my school swear by Vypr; they claim that it is tons better than Astrill and works great for them.  At least 2 other people though have had the same problem I have – none of the servers connect on our computers.

The technology is easy to use but works sporadically and is highly unreliable for me – remember others say it works fine in the same building.  Their website says that if Vypr is not working with a US connection, try hooking in to Netherlands or Hong Kong.  I’ve had a lot of problems with Vypr’s connections in the US, so I tend to rely on the Netherlands or Hong Kong system.  However, that is still very sketchy in regards to successful connections. Plus, there are several websites that require that you be connected to the US for them to work, such as Hulu.  

So far, on my Apple Products, Vypr is more reliable than Astrill.  However, Astrill is more reliable on my Windows Laptop.  It’s kind of a toss-up there. I have not attempted either on a Mac, but I would presume that Astrill is less reliable on a Mac as well. 

Customer Service: Good

Actually, I haven’t really had a reason to talk to their technical support. I have asked questions of my account manager though, and he was incredibly personable and friendly.  Vypr has been very gracious when I speak with them, and I haven’t had any problems on that front!

Conclusion: This service isn’t great on my Windows laptop, I have a hard time getting a connection, even through Hong Kong or Netherlands.  On the other hand, it’s been pretty stable on my Ipad, so there’s that.  Other users have conflicting experiences. Some swear by it and others say it’s not working much.

The program is expensive, more than some competitors, but if it works on your Mac when other programs don’t that might be worth the cost.  I don’t have any problems with turning it on and off, it’s incredibly easy to use. I like that I can change servers as often as I want!  I also like that there is a program no matter what device I use.  There aren’t any add-ons you have to pay for or consider which is pretty sweet; they just come with the program.

All in all, if I could figure out how to make the connection work more often, I would really like this system.  Maybe y’all have some tips?

This is my experience with Vyprvpn, anyone want to throw in their opinion of ExpressVPN to give a comparison?  How have you done with Apple Products here? Windows? Android?

Whew!

5 Mar



4 classes done, 2 more to go!  Feeling a little crazy, but the students are awesome!  Hoping for a good year!

Life In #China: Astrill VPN

5 Jan

Astrill VPN

Life abroad has many, many benefits for foreigners to reap – great food, cheaper cost of living, easy travel.  It also comes with slow internet speed in many places (just too many people online at once), and lots of online threats (the sheer technological ability of the people even in my student body is mind-boggling.) This is why I always work with a VPN (virtual private network), in fact I use one in the US too.

I like the security a VPN offers from those with bad intentions towards my laptop.

A VPN can satisfy the need for speed and security for me- the internet system here at my university is A. slow as heck (yes my VPN makes my laptop faster here for some reason) and B. filled with hackers and viruses waiting for me to seek them out.  A VPN can help keep you fast and safe. Sometimes. Depending on which VPN you choose.

I just hate the feeling that I’m that at risk to viruses, and I’d been using a VPN in the States to help combat malware and data theft.  I didn’t want to travel abroad and leave myself at risk to scams or bad people sneaking into my computer.   I’ve heard good things about VyperVPN which runs at about $80/year for 1 device or $100/year for 2 device. Another one recommended to be was ExpressVPN which runs at about $100/year for 1 device and 1 phone/ipad.  However, after some consideration, I decided to run with Astrill, recommended to me for its price and easy usability.

After more than 5 months as an Astrill user, I thought I would offer you a report on how it’s going.

Price: $70/year + $60/year for use on 5 devices (covers my whole family, phones, laptops, iPad, and more).

Review: The price was one of the lower ends of the group, especially if you want a family plan.  Honestly, I’m still paying a surprising amount, but it isn’t too terrible.  I get StealthVPN (a safer option) free if I tweet an ad for Astrill every month, which is nice.  One problem I ran into is that I attempted to pay Astrill in August, only to find out in October that despite having a confirmation number, the bill was unpaid.  I tried a second time only to find out the same again.  Their payment system kid of sucks. Conversely, they didn’t shut off my program for any of the mess though, so that was a plus.

Installation: Easy (sort of)

Review: Installation is pretty easy. You set up an account with username and password and then download the program.  It’s all fairly straightforward. There was a problem with my first installation because it screwed up the Proxy Settings on my computer so that NOTHING worked. I took it to the resident tech expert and he fixed it in about a second.  Something about DNS servers not responding. Not ashamed to admit I don’t know what went wrong, just that it was easily fixed.  

Use: Easy

The program is extremely easy to use as long as it is working. It automatically signs you in, you pick your server from a drop down list, and it connects you right up.  If you want to see what server is the fastest, go to Help-> Test Speed and just test all the servers.  I recommend using a server from the USA if you want to access all US websites. Remember that if you want to use websites not available in the US like Youku or Tudou you need to use a Chinese server.

Access: Scattered and Bumpy

The technology is easy to use but works sporadically and is highly unreliable.  Unfortunately, they failed to tell me until after I paid that Astrill rarely works on Apple Products right now. Something about IOS 7 and IOS 8 not being compatible. Astrill keeps dropping off on my iPad and often fails to work at all.  On my laptop, it is often extremely slow, even if I use multiple different servers or if the speed test says it is fast. I have had repeated days when it simply didn’t work at all.  I also got a pretty snotty email about a week ago on CHRISTMAS EVE!?! telling me that they “detected suspicious movement” and were freezing my account. Given that this was my only way to contact my family in America (one of the reasons I had Astrill), I was not impressed.  Upon responding to them, I was told that I was changing servers too many times. 0_0 well duh! I purchased a product that now rarely works and only then if I test out several different servers.  I wasn’t amused. That said, when it works it does pretty good. I don’t really have any trouble accessing Facebook or Youtube videos when it is working. It helps if you have a fast internet connection cause Astrill can slow you down. My mom’s internet connection is pretty week and Astrill OFTEN stops working at all for her regardless of the server chosen. Continue reading

Chinese Health Concerns

17 Nov

You know you drink too much soda when . . . the gas station cashier gives you a free bottle of water and looks disapprovingly at your drink selection. All the while telling you, “tsk tsk . . . water have more power.”  0_0

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