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

The War and Peace Revival Show (Or Nazis…Nazis Everywhere)

Last Wednesday, I had the unique experience of attending the War and Peace Revival Show. Held at Folkstone racecourse every year around this time, it is a complete ‘celebration of military vehicles and vintage lifestyle’. This year, it spanned from the 19th July until the 23rd and attracted people from far and wide (both traders and attendees alike).

But many of you may be asking the question “What is the War and Peace Revival Show and why should I care that you went there?” Well, dear reader, let me tell you. First, I should really explain what it is. Put simply, it is a fantastic collection of military memorabilia and reenactors/living history enthusiasts. It is (I believe) the largest show of its kind in Europe. You can pretty much find anything there, from First World War bayonets to Nazi Living History enthusiasts. You can see a range of events over the course of the show and enjoy live music (though the music is obviously a bit old fashioned for some people).

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An overview of the Living History section. It went on and on.

I ended up attending this year alongside my best friend and his Dad, who invited me along knowing my absolute love of history. They attend as collectors of military memorabilia, whilst I went with more of an eye for the reenactment side of things. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy looking around the different stalls and merchandise they offered. I even purchased a few bits myself (a very stylish Hawaiian shirt and a new watch strap for my Timex). We spent many a happy hour following my friend’s Dad, who seemed to know the show like the back of his hand. He himself saw a few items that took his interest and would return to check them out on the other days that he attended. I could only attend the one day, however.

Once we had done looking at the sales stalls, we went to my favourite bit – the living history section of the show, where all the reenactment takes place. Though we didn’t have much time there, I took a few pictures of some American and German reenactors. That is to say, they were the countries they were portraying. Below are the shots I managed to get on my phone, as I annoyingly forgot to take my camera with me.

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Overall, I would heartily suggest this event to anyone with even a passing interest in history or military things or vintage lifestyles. What you can’t find here isn’t worth finding. The ticket for the day was £18 and it has great transport links so you can even get there if you don’t have a car (although for those buying anything big, a car/van is a must)!

Check out the website for the War and Peace Revival Show for more information and pictures.

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.

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Reflections On Moving Home

So, I have been home since January now. Nearly 6 months. Half a year. We are fast approaching a year since I left Korea.  And I decided it was time for me to reflect on this. What do I think, having been out of ESL for a year now? What are my future plans?

I don’t think it is a secret to anyone that since leaving the world of ESL I haven’t coped with life in the West that well. Although I loved being in Canada, I couldn’t work there so that was never going to be a long term solution. Montreal is a fantastic place to be (Marta is currently back there, and although it isn’t in the best of circumstances, even she can’t deny it is a great place). The people I met in Canada were friendly and treated me well. But most importantly – it wasn’t “home”.

The biggest feeling I have had since leaving Korea all those months ago is one of not really belonging anymore. Home, or what was once home, doesn’t feel like it for me. At first, I assumed it was simply reverse culture-shock.. But after a year, and still feeling the same, I know that isn’t the case. I am a traveler at heart and being at home provides me with no adventure. I get up everyday, like many, and go through the motions. But I have seen a glimpse of something different and now there is no going back. I took the red pill, and leapt down the rabbit hole.

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But in doing so, I discovered something wonderful. I discovered friends I never would have met otherwise who mean the world to me now. I discovered a way of doing a job that brings you joy everyday. A job that is always different, challenging but extremely rewarding. A way of life that is unique and a wonderful community of people to share that with. Given my chance to do the last year over, I wouldn’t change much. But if I had to make one change, it would be never leaving the world of ESL.

I miss it everyday, and though I enjoy my job now, it isn’t anywhere near what I felt doing ESL. I miss my friends, my little apartment. The ajumma at the corner store who gave me tomatoes one summer day because she had some spare. The ajusshi who ran a local glasses store, and provided Marta and I with the same service a year later. I miss coffees overlooking the city of Cheongju. I miss brunch with TJ. The smiles of my kids as they finally got that word right they’d been struggling with. Their enthusiasm for Sports Day. I miss never knowing what was going on.

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Cheongju, South Korea

I miss the life of the expat.

And friends – as great as it is being home, I count everyday down as one less until I can leave again. Once the travel bug bites you, and you experience that life, I honestly don’t think you can happily do anything else.

As a wiser person than I said, “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”

Ricky

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

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