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.

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A Return to the World of Fantasy and Adventure

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Recently, dear reader, I have been in a bit of a funk. Overwhelmed by work, feeling like no matter how much I get done, there is always so much more than when I started. And this has been grinding on me. I’ve needed an escape, somewhere I can go or something I can do that is completely disconnected from the world which is causing me so much stress. And I have found it.

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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.

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

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

Nobody Said It Was Easy (Or The Hard Part About A Life On The Road)

Today is my sister’s 21st Birthday. It is the day that, officially, she stops being a girl and is a young woman on the brink of graduating University and going out into the world to make it a better place. But it is also a day that has got me thinking. Thinking about life and travelling. And, despite what many think, travelling isn’t always easy. It can be bloody hard, dear reader. For, life at home does not simply cease to go on with your removal. No. It continues on much as before. And a hard part of a life on the road is missing out on the events back home. This year alone, I will be missing yet more of my cousins birthdays (they are all young – two of them have never met me before and one of them doesn’t know who I am); I have missed my grandfather’s 80th birthday; my sister turning 21; and two family weddings. Next year, I miss my father turning 50. The year after that, my mother turning 50. And missing these events gets harder and harder every time.

I feel this aspect of travelling is less talked about. After all, who wants to hear about someone moping in self-pity, when they can hear about the time you rode elephants in Thailand or tried some amazing food in Vietnam. But, dear readers, this is a reality of life on the road. It can get away from you, and before you know it, you’ve missed out on large chunks of life from back home. Tolkien once wrote that “It’s a dangerous business…going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” I feel very much like I have been swept up in the raging river of travel. After leaving Korea, I am planning to head to Australia or New Zealand. But the flip-side of this rather beautiful coin hides a less attractive face. I haven’t been home in a year and a half. I have no plans to go back home in the next year and a half. I haven’t seen my parents since the day I left. Nor my sister. My extended family, I haven’t seen in even longer than that. They are constantly changing, their lives evolving and I feel less and less a part of that each day. On top of this, friends move in and out of your life with a rapid fluidity. This February, I am losing one of my best friends here in Korea, and several other close friends are also leaving. You start to be less of a person in the lives of others and more…a part of a story that they will one day tell. Yes, you might be an interesting part. But you are a story, none the less. To my young cousins, I am nothing but a story. A man in a myth. They’ve no memories of me. No face to put to the name. If anything, I am just a guy who appears on the computer every now and then.

Yes, dear readers, life on the road is glorious and wonderful. I see things and do things many people only dream of. I live a life blessed with interesting tales, opportunities and adventures. But to go on one adventure, you must give up others. And every now and then you realise – it is a high price to pay.

Ricky