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

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

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.

phew
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’.

smaug-death
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).

dr-who
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