Chapter 39: The Office
The letter of appointment was real and, despite the query as to his curriculum, he was permitted to enter the university unmolested, along with his bicycle.
As was expected, students and teachers operated under different rules, and teachers were given a designated area to park their vehicles free of charge. Lan Jue decided, by the way, to register the antique bicycle for entry.
In contrast with the strange alloy of the university’s gate, the interior gave the distinct impression of communion with nature, all fresh and new.
Old trees grew together in to a towering canopy that shaded the campus grounds, guarding the roads and walkways. Each area was unique in it’s foliage, and it was clear even at a glance that they were all painstakingly kept. The fragrant smell of mowed grass, the heady fragrance of fresh flowers, both mingled together and filled the nostrils. Walking the meandering paths of the campus was like reconnecting with nature.
What a wonderful place! Lan Jue silently praised.
The buildings, layout and tenets of the school were all in line with it’s teaching ideology. And, of course, the preferences of the administration.
But more than that Lan Jue felt drawn the National Eastern Campus and it’s adherence to nature. If he had to describe it; tranquil. That would do it.
Earlier whilst being directed through the campus he’d easily found the teaching affairs office where he’d registered. He was given his office key, as well the key to his apartment. He was indeed treated like an honorable associate professor.
Stepping out the teaching affairs office, laden with his things, he freed a hand to push his glasses up on his nose.
“I guess I’m a teacher!”
The quality of the NEU was well appreciated, and the pursuit of knowledge was rigorous. The dean of the teaching affairs office had subtly hinted that it didn’t matter what connections got him in to the university, and he didn’t know how he’d managed to get the administrators to agree to the so-called Etiquette Classes, but he wouldn’t be paid for doing nothing. As a result, his first class was scheduled for this afternoon, and the school would broadcast the advertisement for this elective course. Further the Teaching Director himself would attend the class to determine for himself whether Lan Jue had what it took to teach. If he didn’t, he’d have to face the administration, and have his class cut.
Simply put, his first test at the National Eastern University was just around the corner!
Recalling the stony visage of the dean, Lan Jue’s face couldn’t help but suffer a brief twitch. Why was it all deans of the world seemed exactly the same – or, at least, shared the same face, like they were cut from the same mold.
The thought turned over in his mind, although it was none of their business he certainly couldn’t allow himself to be dismissed. Otherwise he’d never hear the end of it from Zhou Qianlin.
It had been ages since Lan Jue had felt this eager about something. He still had the morning, how would he prepare?
The NEU was vast, and separated in to numerous areas. The most significant of these was the R&D Department, a place only teachers and graduate students were permitted to enter. Three large, white, circular buildings sprawled across it.
The rest of the campus was standard, separated in to various area like the Mecha Combat department, and the Mecha Manufacturing and Service department.
The departments themselves were separated in to many smaller units. To put it simply, the Mecha Combat department had units dedicated to combat exercises and mecha application.
Mecha Manufacture and Maintenance, meanwhile, dealt largely with research and mecha building.
The NEU was laid out so that the further reaches of the campus were considered of higher status than the front. After all, it’s how they displayed worth.
These two departments took up an area of roughly 150 hectares, and was separated in to the teaching building, research labs and so on.
Lan Jue had been assigned an office here, in the third teaching building with all the other elective courses.
What were known as elective courses here where all after school courses, mostly set up by students according to their interests and needs. Things like art, music and others. And now, etiquette.
The students themselves you could separate in to various ranks, and the difference between the status and future prospects of exceptional and average students was tremendous.
Teachers were no different. The income inequality and status of normal course instructors versus elective teachers was just as vast. This was especially true for post graduate and research instructors.
And so it was that all elective teachers were huddled here in the third teaching building. It was an open office, shared among some ten or more teachers. Their dormitory was nearby as well, in a small building behind the one their office occupied. It was without a doubt the shabbiest structure in the entire university.
Compared to teachers of normal subjects elective instructors weren’t treated very well, but when examined against other normal professions outside of the campus they still were paid quite handsomely. After all, of all the universities in the Eastern Alliance the NEU enjoyed the most appropriated government funds. Teachers benefited from that.
In the end, though, it wasn’t the salary that was an elective teacher’s greatest source of income. It was bonuses. How much was earned depended on how many students attended the class. Joining an elective required payment, of course, and a portion of those profits were given to the teacher in question. The better their class, the more students they got, the more money they earned. It was a decent incentive method.
As for the dorm, Lan Jue didn’t much care. He had no intention of living there. And so he went directly to the offices.
The door of the Number Three Teaching Building’s offices was cast open. It had been a difficult place to find in the round campus, and his bicycle required a fair amount of effort to maneuver.
Knock, knock. Lan Jue rapped his fist against the office door. He smiled at the milling instructors as he made his way inside, nodding in greeting.
“Hello everyone,” he began politely. “I’m the new etiquette teacher, Lan Jue.”
Few occupied the office at the moment, and to Lan Jue’ surprise the majority were women. The office was approximately three hundred meters with a few dozen desks. Nearly half lay empty. Of the occupied cubicles only eight teachers were present. Two were male, the rest women. Most appeared in their twenties, but for one older woman.
Every eye turned to Lan Jue. Regardless of gender each took in his tall, lithe frame and gentle demeanor. His gentle smile and elegant conduct immediately set people at ease.