Boldly Stepping Into The Future (Or Re-Applying for EPIK)

It has been an awfully long time since I posted on here. November, I believe, was the last time. When I left you last, I was undertaking my teacher training and stressed about work. Well, what has changed since then? Not a lot. I am still stressed. I am still in teacher training. But my future path may be different, dear reader. For I have made the decision to re-apply to go and teach in Korea with the EPIK Programme again. Those who read my sporadic blog posts will know that I miss Korea. I miss EFL. I miss basically everything about those glorious two years. So this should really come as no surprise.

Continue reading “Boldly Stepping Into The Future (Or Re-Applying for EPIK)”

The beginning of a new adventure!

I haven’t posted on here in a while. But, dear reader, I do apologise for this. For you see, I have been undertaking the beginning of a new adventure and it has kept me quite busy. Yes. I have finally begun my teacher training. And it is hard work. I feel as though I am constantly behind, needing to do something, not having enough time to do something or that I should be doing something else more productive than the productive thing that I am currently doing.

But I guess this is preparing me well for the busy life of a teacher. I’ll admit, I had it easy in Korea as a teacher. I didn’t have to do any marking. I didn’t really have to set any massive tests. I didn’t have to attend meetings. So seeing how it really works in the UK in comparison to teaching (ESL teaching, that is) in Korea has been interesting. I am five weeks into my course now and I have loved every minute. I have especially enjoyed the placement at my school. Being back in the classroom again is a great feeling, even if I was only observing most of the time.

So, why am I telling you all this? Well, I plan to keep you as updated as I can with my progress, the realities of taking a PGCE and my life in general as I learn over the next year. I have no doubts that the next 12 months will be among the toughest of my life. As I said above, I already feel like I don’t do enough, and we have only just started.

For anyone reading this and planning on taking a PGCE – it is really difficult. It starts out hard and gets even harder. I feel that, in order to do my work, I have recently been neglecting my general health, friends, girlfriend and wellbeing. That isn’t a good thing. So my solution is to try and take some time for me every weekend because otherwise I am going to burn myself out and that won’t be productive for anyone.

But also know that a PGCE course is a lot of fun too. I have loved learning different teaching methods and classroom activities to use (and even tried a few out with my class that I solo teach at the moment). It is fantastically rewarding to put the time into planning a lesson and having it go well. In fact, it is fantastically rewarding in general.

Taking this course has also made me realise something else – I miss ESL as a career. I think I have mentioned before that I didn’t think I was finished with it and now I know that I am not. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to go and do some ESL teaching. But that adventure will have to wait, for these lesssons aren’t going to plan themselves.

Until next time, dear reader.

Ricky

Brexit, First Left…

So, those of you not living in a cave would have heard the news – on Thursday 23rd June, the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in an historical referendum. I don’t know how much you would have heard about it in the aftermath (a lot, if you are on my Facebook friend list, I can assure you) but today I feel the need to post on this topic. It is something that was a deeply important issue to me for both personal and political reasons.

First, a little background for those out of the loop. We (the citizens of the United Kingdom) voted to leave the EU 52% to 48%. What caused this? It is a movement against and a discontentment with the so-called ‘establishment’ (what the ‘establishment’ is has yet to actually be properly explained to me by anyone that hates it) that has been growing since my arrival back in the UK in January. It is an issue with immigration that has not been addressed in the eyes of many and who feel left behind by a political elite seen as ‘out of touch’. It is the problems that people have with an institution that is seen as not completely democratic (which is ever so slightly rich coming from a nation with an unelected upper house and monarch as head of state). At least, this is what I have come to understand from those (including members of my family) who decided to vote leave.

Me? I voted Remain. I believe that the UK is stronger in Europe. That turning our back on the continent that we belong to, especially in such uncertain times, is an unwise move. That we were more secure, economically better off and generally more prosperous in Europe. I had wanted to believe that we were an outward looking nation. A nation that wasn’t taken in by vague promises and lies. That wouldn’t be hoodwinked by media spin and catchphrases. I think, in part, I always feared that we could be that nation though. And I believe that June 23rd proved it.

What is the result of all of this? It means that my generation, who voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, and will live with the consequences of this for the next 50 plus years have had our futures decided by the older generation, who might have to live with it for the next 15. It means that the economy has already begun a slow decline downwards, with the pound hitting an historic 35 year low against the dollar and something like 2 trillion dollars being lost off worldwide markets. It means that the possible friendships that could have developed with the movement of young people may never happen. That possible relationships will now no longer blossom. It has already seen the rise of xenophobia and the beginnings of a resurgence of fascism in my country.

Yes. On the 23rd June, the UK decided to leave the EU. And I think it is the most un-British I have ever felt. We left to ‘take back control’, but what we’ve been left with is a series of broken opportunities, a heavily damaged economy and the Leave campaign backpedaling on the promises it made. The possibility of the UK ceasing to exist as there are calls for a second Scottish referendum. An arrogance that the world needs us much more than we need it. This insular view is embarrassing at best and dangerous at its worst. We 48% might be stuck with this decision but it is up to us to make it do as little damage as possible. Now, more than ever, the UK needs us to fight for what we believe in. Fight against narrow-mindedness and xenophobia; fight against this hatred of anyone foreign or different from us. If we don’t, I fear we are going down a path that will be very difficult to return from.

The Writer’s Struggle (Or Why Haven’t I Been Posting More?)

So, it has been several weeks since I last posted on here. Despite my promises, you once again find me apologising for not posting. But it was only because I did not want to bore you. I have not really had much going on in my life worth writing to you all about.

So, what is happening at the moment? Well, the big news is that over in the UK we are on Easter Break. That means two weeks with no school, students or (hopefully) stress. This last term (or semester for any American readers) went by pretty quickly but did bring with it a rather large amount of stress right at the end.

“What is this stress?” I hear you ask. Well, let me tell you. I recently found out that I am not likely to be funded (or I think it is unlikely – people keep telling me to think positively) for my PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate of Education). This is because I have not been in the UK for the past three years, diligently working some crap job for little money in case I decided to apply for further student loans. Instead, I was abroad working (temporarily) in the ESL industry. As a teacher. Getting teaching experience. But apparently, that is not what they look for. I know what you are thinking – it makes perfect sense. I know. This means Marta and I seriously need to think of a Plan B, as I can’t be stuck in the UK for six years. I bloody hate it here.

So, fellow travellers, be aware that you too may run into difficulties if you have been abroad teaching ESL and want to come back to the UK to qualify as a teacher here. I know that if I don’t get funded, that particular dream will have gone for me and I will be thinking seriously about what I want to do.

Apart from that, Marta and I took a trip to the West Hill and enjoyed a wonderful lunch of jacket potato (Marta) and a sausage baguette (me) with some delicious cake for desert. The West Hill is very pretty in the springtime sun and I regrettably only took  a few pictures the entire time we were there. I must get back into using my camera again. But being back home has left me uninspired. I want to go back to Vietnam and Cambodia, where I was happily snapping away all day long. You can see my picture of the West Hill above, and you would have seen it if you clicked on this article from my home page.

Well, that is it for me for now. I will write again soon about the trials and tribulations of trying to get my life in order. It might not be easy but I will work it out.

Ricky

A Week Late (But Still Here)

So, dear reader, after a strong start of one post on time, I must begin this one by apologising for not posting last weekend. I had a rather busy Sunday, and consequently, ran out of time.

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The High Street

So, last week (for those who don’t know) was half term here in the UK. That meant that I had no school and was free to wander the Old Town in Hastings. I did this with Marta and the highlight was the time we spent rummaging through a store called Albion Books. This is one of the best second hand book stores in my town. With books literally spilling over the floor and piled as far as the eye can see, you can find almost anything there. I got a few old Sci-Fi books and a great bargain in Brighton Rock by Graham Greene. Apart from that, my half term was pretty quiet. I spent much of it recovering from the almost non-stop schedule I have had since I got home.. It isn’t easy being so in demand, you know!

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A church down the High Street, Hastings Old Town

This past week,  I was back at school. I finally got my time table sorted and began going to the lessons without anyone else (my period of shadowing was at an end). This, admittedly, terrified me. But I think it went OK. Nothing caught fire, the students seemed to benefit from my presence and I am slowly settling back in to being in a classroom again after so long.

This upcoming week, I have my first aid training for school, and then two normal days. Seems a bit strange to think I have not had a proper week at school yet (last Friday was a drop day – the kids do one subject all day and it is supposed to be more fun).

Stay tuned for more exciting updates on my life. It can’t get more thrilling than this.

Ricky

Back Into The World Of Work: My First Week

So, dear reader, I finally entered back into the world of work this week and it was interesting. For those who don’t know (i.e. all of you) I am now a teaching assistant for SEN (Special Educational Needs) children at a local secondary school. My role includes supporting the students when they need it in the classroom and offering any support required (for example, reading) during an exam. By doing this, I hope to work towards becoming a fully qualified teacher.

My introduction to my new job was a little overwhelming. Along with an information overload, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it. Needless to say,  I was worried. Not for me, but that I wouldn’t be good at it and therefore would let my students down. However, after meeting them this week and spending some time in their classes helping them, I am much less worried. I feel like I can actually help them and have a positive impact on their education.

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Phew!

The other big news I have from this week is that I took (and passed) my professional skills tests. For those who don’t know, or don’t live here in the UK, I will explain what these are. They are two (or three, if you want to teach primary level) tests you have to sit on English and Maths. You have to pass these in order to be able to train to become a teacher. I studied pretty hard for them, and may do a more in depth post in the future about exactly what they entail.

Outside of work, I have not done much at all. I visited Croydon and met up with my friend Rosie and her lovely boyfriend Pete. It was great seeing them…Less so seeing Croydon. I warned Marta all about it and it’s…’charms’.

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What is better than Croydon, Smaug?

Well, that is about all from me this week. Come back next week for a (hopefully) more interesting post and catch up on my excitingly dull life.

Ricky

So…It’s Been A While.

Hello, dear readers, and once again welcome to the East Of The Sun. I know I have not posted on here in a long time. Since last September, I believe and you may have thought I had left my blog to die by the wayside, like so many expat blogs out there. But fear not – your dose of incessant rambling and oddity has returned. For many reasons, I have not posted much since my last post detailing my arrival in Chambly, Canada, and asDavid Bowie sang, my life has gone through many “ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” since then.

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The Shard, from a recent trip to London.

The biggest change is that I am no longer an expat. Yes, I have finally returned to that little isle I call home and am back in the United Kingdom at last. After around two and a half years away, I am finally back in Hastings. And, to be honest, I am rather disappointed about it. I wish that I was still out in the world travelling, and instead I am back at home, remembering all the reasons that I left in the first place (the weather being one of them).

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Good old English weather.

Another big change is that I now have a job after four and a half months of being a tourist in Canada. I am due to start next week as a Teaching Assistant at a local Secondary School. This blog is going to be my way of updating you on my (mis)adventures during that. From September I will be undertaking teacher training and will keep you updated on how that goes as well. My current plan is to post around once a week, probably on a Sunday after I have had time to process everything that has happened and get it into a form that you might all find interesting.

I hope you all had a fantastic New Year and look forward to continuing my adventures with you all in 2016.

Ricky