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

Leaving A Job (Or How I Am Becoming A Student Again)

It has been a few weeks, friends, since I last posted. I believe my post was to do with Brexit and how I was feeling about that. Not much has been going on in my life of any great interest, hence my lack of posts since then. But then I remembered (well, I already knew but you get what I mean) that I was leaving school. The job I have had as a TA since February of this year comes to an end in a week and so does my time working at my school. I have had some great times and I am genuinely sad to leave. From my favourite students to the people I work with, I will miss this job as much as I miss working in Korea.

Yes, it wasn’t perfect or easy all of the time. Some days were filled with stress and anxiety; others with laughter and good times. I think what I will miss most is feeling like part of a team. I haven’t had that in a long time and the team of TAs I work with are fantastic. They are the friendliest people you could hope to meet (and some of the most under appreciated too).

What is my next big adventure, I hear you ask?

I will be heading out into the world of PGCEs. I am going to be studying teaching history to 11-18 year olds at Canterbury Christ Church University and I am really excited to start. All I know is that the start date is early September at the moment and that I will be working with some seemingly great people. My placements are a mystery though, so that is exciting.

After that, who knows where I will go? I will see where life takes me. But I know that whatever I end up doing, it will be an amazing adventure.

Check back soon for more updates, including the War And Peace show which I am attending next week.

Ricky

“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.

red-pill

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

Future Plans (Or How I Can’t Wait To Get Out Of The UK)

Here it is. My second blog post within a week. Shocking I know, but I must keep a schedule if I am to write on here with any kind of regularity. So, as you may have guessed from my title, this post is about my future plans. And they fact that they have solidified. Yes. I have a plan for my future. And it does not involve some dull 9-5 lifestyle here in the UK. I have been home now for three months and, my dear reader, I am bloody miserable here. The weather is crap. My future prospects are crap. In short, the UK has more crap coming out of it than Donald Trump’s mouth.

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The average British Spring day.

Naturally, I can’t be dealing with this. I was lukewarm about coming back at best. In fact, the only good point is my family and friends (so shout out to you guys for being good enough to get me back to this place). What, you are most likely asking, is your plan then? Well, let me tell you. I plan to work here for the next year and a half (or so), save up money and then I am off back to the glorious world of ESL teaching in Vietnam.

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Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS)

I miss ESL a lot (a subject I plan to cover in another post), and to those of you who know me, this is probably not a surprise. I completely fell in love with Vietnam when I visited it last February. The only thing that worries me is that I might be here for a bit longer than a year and a half. But I am determined not to be. Well, a year and three-quarters is more accurate. I am trying my best to save around 40-50% of my pay every month. That is how determined I am to get out of here.

I am extremely optimistic about this plan, and the future now. In a way that I wasn’t when faced with being stuck here for so long. Quite simply, I don’t feel at home here any more. I didn’t think I would before I came home and I was right. Much like many of my other expat friends, I miss ESL. I miss the life that comes with it. I miss living somewhere more exciting than the dreary place I grew up.

So that is all from me for now. Stay amazing, folks and I will do another blog post soon.

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

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