Personal

When the teacher becomes the student.

Since it’s Monday, now’s the perfect time to reflect on the weekend, amiright?

Well, WOW.

I wish every weekend was as wonderful as the one just gone.
Since I’ve only got a week (ish) left in England, some of my students wanted to organise a day together as a thank you / goodbye for me.

I’m not going to lie when I say my anxiety kicked in. I thought of all the millions of things that could go wrong, such as, they’ll realise I’m actually a complete moron, I’m the world’s fussiest eater, I’m not at all funny, I’m really lame, I’m totally boring…

Thanks for that little visit anxiety.

I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

We met for breakfast in this tiny, but amazing, Mediterranean cafe and had huge plates of falafel, hummous, breads and really delicious tea! We sat for about 2 hours just relaxing and eating – I wish every day started off that way!

We took a bus over to Poole (it took an hour!) but the weather was absolutely gorgeous, which meant walking around the town centre and along the harbor was just lovely! And much to two of the boys’ disgust, we went into the local museum. They weren’t impressed, which made us giggle like school girls.

I enjoyed it! But I’ve also been there before. It’s four floors of history about Poole, the harbor and has lots of artifacts and pictures – some of them are really, really, old!

Due to our trip to the museum we missed the last boat of the day, and that was probably the only disappointment of the day, since the skies were clear blue and none of us had been on a boat trip in absolutely years! Thankfully the boys rescued us with their AMAZING Arabic coffee – I’m completely in love with that stuff and really need to find out where I can buy some so I can make it at home.

We sat under one of the gazebos, drinking coffee, eating chocolate and laughing about the most random of things. It was such a calm, simple 30 minutes but it was perfect!

Since we missed the boat, and the guys didn’t want to play crazy golf, we decided to head back to Bournemouth so we could go bowling! I haven’t been in years and since the new place opened in the centre it made it really convenient. After Ahmed and I totally smashed the others at table football, we had two extremely competitive games of bowling!

Thankfully I won the first game (huge surprise! I’m usually terrible!) and the second game I was, true to my normal standards, absolutely awful. It didn’t matter at all because we all had some terrible goes, a few spares each, but mostly it was just such fun. We laughed almost the entire time we were playing, despite the obvious competitive streak some of us have!

It wasn’t late enough for dinner once we’d finished but we all agreed on one thing, we needed coffee. We sat on the balcony at Aruba for about 2 and a half hours just talking about everything and nothing. Families, football, travelling, languages – everything! 

I’m still processing some of the things I learnt that day. I learnt so much about Spain and Saudi Arabia and it’s all so fascinating – we could have talked for another few days about it all and it still wouldn’t have been enough!

Dinner was the same – we barely stopped talking! Pizza Express was extremely impressive and we all shared pastas and pizza – delicious food! We sat until nearly 11pm, until the restaurant was closing. I’d never thought it was possible to spend 12 hours with people without running out of things to say, but it is!

I honestly wasn’t ready for the day to end and I can only say how much I wish every Saturday was just like that.

For once, I wasn’t teaching (well, not really), I was listening, learning, being taught new things! I haven’t enough words to say how grateful I am for everything that happened on Saturday.

It’s been hard to socialize lately. Friends have moved away, or they work full time, or they’re not free until I’m finally home relaxing or without the car. Which made this day even more amazing that my students took time to plan a day out with me.

Plus Laura got me this adorable mug!

Thank you so, so much guys.

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health, Personal

Stressed not depressed

Firstly let me apologize for the slightly ‘down in the dumps’ topic, but then I’m being hypocritical really, as I like to remind people as often as I can that it is okay to talk about how you feel. Never apologize for sharing your thoughts. 

I’m stressing.

I’m stressing badly.

I feel absolutely overwhelmed with the amount of things that are racing through my mind every minute of the day. I don’t think I’ve had a decent night’s sleep in nearly 3 weeks and it’s drastically taking it’s toll.

I’m tired, grumpy, snappy and beyond emotional.
I keep welling up over the most stupid things.

This is what lack of sleep does to you.

But, what I have learned in the last year or two is that “one bad day, is not a bad life”. One day of hysterical crying, feeling like it’s the end of the world, doesn’t make it so.

It makes you human.

My depression has not come back. I am not depressed. I will not be depressed.

I am stressed.

And there’s a difference.


If there’s one thing I wish for myself, it’s to never have to experience the pain of depression ever again in my life. That feeling where you’re so low you’re breaking your own heart. I couldn’t experience that again and I truly hope that none of you do either.

However, if you are… REACH OUT AND TALK ABOUT IT. Promise me? Don’t do it alone.


Just lately I’ve been absolutely fine throughout the day, but the minute I get home I turn into an emotional wreck. I don’t want to hear any sounds, talk to anyone, do anything but lie in bed and cry. Or read, then cry.

Is anyone else feeling that way lately? Is it the weather? Am I not managing my time properly? I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong… Maybe it’s my diet? Whatever it is, I need to up my self-care game.



Things that have made me cry this week:

  • People thanking me for my work / help
  • Seeing all 12 of my students read silently for 20 minutes, with no phones or talking at all – their choice! and then ask to keep on reading
  • Finding out one of my students got a 5.5 on his IELTS and accepted into Cardiff (starting to well up now just thinking about it)
  • My students writing an entire page of homework, when 10 weeks ago they could barely write three sentences
  • Books. Always books.

I hope I’m not going crazy, but I really needed to put this out there.

I hope you’re not feeling this way either, but if you are, reach out!

xo

Book Reviews, Education, Personal, travel

2017 reflections

Initial plans

Before 2017 started I was determined that this year my main goals were:
1. to beat depression (my new year’s resolution that failed in 2015)
2. to hold down a proper job and pay my bills, and
3. to re-ignite my love for reading

What I have accomplished this year is more than I, and more than my family, could have possibly imagined. The first thing that changed was I decided to stop going out every day to ward off my depression with coffee and talking to random people in coffee shops. What this first step did for me was gave me time to relax at home, in my own space, and focus on myself. What happened was, I stopped wearing make up, took time to write and, wait for it, READ. I told myself to read for 10 minutes every day, that’s all, but within days I had gone out and bought new books. I was reading two a day, sometimes three! It was like magic that my passion for reading flooded back.

Once I’d realized it was back, I looked for a reading challenge and decided to go with PopSugar’s version! I’ve enjoyed it immensely and recommend any book-lover to do it too! Total books read in 2017: 44!

This is honestly one of the best parts of 2017. I had forgotten how much reading influenced me. How moving words can be and what an effect they can have on us.

I’ll briefly share a few of my favourites with you.

A man named Ove, by Fredrik Backman – This had me laughing, crying and feeling so many mixed emotions as I saw parts of my grumpy self in Ove, but also parts of my Grandpa in that the love between husband and wife is unbreakable even after death.

Mad Girl, by Bryony Gordon – The first book I read this year that I couldn’t put down and without a doubt reminded me of how much I’ve missed reading. Despite the struggles of Bryony, she lets us into her world through humour and showing us that it is okay, ‘not to be okay’. I can’t thank her enough for sharing her story.

Baby Doll and The Walls by Hollie Overton – wow! Neither of these books were read lightly. Absolutely gripping at the pages as I read both of these, each in one sitting. The Walls actually gave me nightmares, it was that good! Twisted, warped stories that had my heart racing start to finish! Must, must read!

All the bright places by Jennifer Niven – oh my poor heart. What a moving story! It took me a few days to read this, as I started back in January when I wasn’t fully in the swing of reading but by the end of it I had quotes on little post-it notes around my room, I wanted tattoos, I couldn’t stop following Niven’s fans on instagram and twitter. I was sucked into the world of Violet and Finch.

My weight loss

This was a pivotal part of my year because growing up I was always extremely skinny, and sporty, and even at Uni I wasn’t ever more than a size 8, but once the depression crept in, then the medication, I ate and ate and ate… I never stopped. Dr Pepper, doughnuts, pizza hut, crisps, chips, chocolates, beer, wine… whatever I wanted, I ate. Immediately. I was eating anywhere from 5 to 10 times a day and I didn’t care. It wasn’t long before I was pushing a size 16 and 70kilos. My family were shocked, my friends of course didn’t say anything, and I felt repulsive. This year I put an end to it. How? Believe me, people have asked.

  • I started off by cutting out eating after 7pm. This made a huge difference to my bloating and discomfort.
  • The next stage, I stopped eating dairy products. No milk, chocolate, cheese, none of it! This made a massive difference and the weight started dropping quite quickly.
  • Then it was time for some hard work, I had to stop eating junk food. I cut out cookies and crisps, I went nearly 6 months without a single pizza (this was painful!). It meant daily smoothies, veggie sticks for snacks instead of crisps, soups when it was cold rather than 2 plates of pasta or pizza.
  • Then the real work, exercise! This was tough. My knees are weak and running is always painful for me… so I had to buy some weights and do things at home. Mostly squats, sit ups, crunches, jumping jacks, lizard crunches (seriously guys, do these!!) Plus the occasional swim or trip to the gym…

I’m still working on my weight, and I hate my stomach, but to lose 16 kilos in 12 months is a massive achievement for me and I feel surprisingly proud of myself!

First real job

After a few part-time job stints in 2016, I wasn’t satisfied with what I’d been doing. I’d enjoyed my job at the Little Red Roaster immensely, but because of my mental health I had to resign. My boss there was amazing and most of the customers were lovely, and in the jobs that followed I didn’t find either of those bonus points.

Someone recommended I apply for Coffee #1 in Winton and I had a great trial shift… two days later they called and asked if I wanted to train up as an Assistant Manager. Jeez… Where do I begin? A week after signing the contract they said I couldn’t stay in Winton and that I’d have to go to Eastleigh. Every day. I agreed, since I had no other option but that journey was awful. Getting the bus to Southampton, then a train to Eastleigh took about an hour in the morning, but coming home was awful. I had to get a train back to Southampton, which depending on what time I closed up that night could have me waiting in Eastleigh for an hour. The coach times changed and sometimes I was waiting in Southampton for an hour, or longer. On average, coming home took between 2 and 4 hours, for a 30 minute car journey. I didn’t get paid for my travel time, as promised. I didn’t get compensation half of the time either. I enjoyed the job I was doing but most of the time, I was on auto pilot. The hours were awful, the travelling was even worse. I’ll skip the other finer, irritating details of what I had to put up with, but eventually I handed in my notice. It was absolutely the right decision for me and I’m so glad I walked away from that place.

No money

With my first solo trip booked, Switzerland!!, and no job… I was in panic mode. Do I cancel my holiday? Do I retract my notice? No no no! I went to Zuerich for three days and had the best holiday ever! I saw old friends, went to the FIFA museum, walked along the river and I barely bought a thing except for food. Have any of you been to Zuerich? What did you think of it??

The turning point

One of the biggest points of 2017 was my Taiwan holiday… Leigh and I had argued, big time, before I flew out and I was back at a really low point. I didn’t know what to do next with my personal life, my career, my education. Everything felt like a complete mess. However, I took myself off to a little coffee shop and explored my options.

I started working on my mindfulness, writing a journal again and learning how to be more reflective on situations.

NOW was the time to step out of my comfort zone. I signed up for a CELTA course. After years and years of uhmmmmmm-ing and aaaaaaaaah-ing about whether to go forward with teacher training, this was it! I started the day after I arrived home in Bournemouth.

I’ve said it time and time again lately but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. That CELTA course pushed me to study again, to make some wonderful new friends and, believe it or not, almost cure my stage fright! I honestly had no idea if I was going to pass the course or not, but I applied for a summer teaching job at the sister school, BEET. I had a few interviews and finally, as long as I passed, I had a 4-week contract!

Now I won’t go into too much detail about the job, because I’ve blogged about it a fair bit already but this job has changed my life. I have found a passion. I love this job with my heart and soul, and the people that I’ve met through it have inspired me, supported me, and some have also left me feeling totally drained (but that’s a rare few!)

I’ll be forever grateful to those two people who gave me this opportunity, and to everyone who has supported me along the way. If I could work there forever, I would.

 

If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it…

Okay. We did. But I’m not going to blog about that now…
August 30th 2017 – Leigh and I got engaged.

Closing

As the year draws to a close, I’m still glowing from my wonderful holiday in Germany with our friends, a lovely Christmas with my family and Leigh and I are in the process of signing contracts for teaching jobs in China.

We went up to London yesterday for our medical exams, and have a week to wait for the results. In the mean time, we are going to enjoy THREE WHOLE DAYS OFF together! Then it’s crunch time. Packing up my things, throwing away what I don’t need, etc etc.

I cannot believe that I’m about to move to the other side of the world and finally move out of my parents house. Hopefully for the last time! Does this mean I’m officially an adult now? Let’s hope so.

I hope everyone has a lovely New Year’s Eve and that 2018 is absolutely wonderful for you. Please let me know what you’re looking forward to, if you’re doing any book challenges or if you’re also going to be teaching abroad!

 

Lots of love

Claire

xoxo

Education, Personal

The last teaching day of 2017

Well, I know I haven’t been updating my blog as I should have but I feel as if today is definitely deserving of a post.

Today has been my last day of teaching for 2017 and I’m feeling fairly emotional about it, as I knew I would be.

Not only does Christmas bring lots of goodbyes and holiday wishes, but today felt even more emotional saying goodbye to student that I’ve been teaching for 2, 3, even 6 months! People that have taught me about different countries, religions, traditions and most importantly, friendship.

Watching these students come together from totally different worlds, some with almost no English and others with a seriously impressive standard of English, has been wonderful.

Working at BEET has inspired me more than I thought could be possible. I’ve finally found my career path, I’ve found something that I want to do forever. A job that makes me feel, mostly, positive, happy and yet at the same time drives me crazy and causes me to lose hours of sleep over planning the best lessons, trying to help students focus on their weaker areas and excel wherever possible. I’ve never lost so much sleep before.

My colleagues are extremely inspiring. They are intelligent, intellectual, hilarious, kind, thoughtful and have made me feel completely welcome at the school.

I will miss them in many ways and I can only hope my new colleagues will be half as amazing as them.

6 months ago I would never have thought I was capable of teaching, but thanks to the people around me and the students I’ve taught, I have a new found confidence in myself, and a new passion.

Education

Monday morning writing’s calling.

My first class tomorrow is based on writing, and I really don’t want to jump in straight away. 

I’ve been wracking my brains for an hour or so over how I can kick start the class with interest.

I came across a website with 15 ideas 💡 but two that definitely seemed relevant for tomorrow’s class…

(What do you guys think?)

9. With A Write-Around

Hand the first student in each row a piece of paper with a sentence stem, question, or topic on it, tell them which direction to pass when they’re finished, then give each students exactly 30 seconds to write and pass. This is a powerful way to get hesitant writers and speakers to give their opinion, and build off the statements of others.

AND / OR

15. With A Write-Around

Write a “conversation starter” or thinking stem (e.g., ‘Summer reminds me of…’) on a sheet of paper. Actually, try four sheets of paper–different stems on each. Place them at different points in the classroom, explain to the students how the papers are to rotate so that everyone gets each sheet in even time.

HUGE THANKS TO TERRY HEICK FOR WRITING THIS ARTICLE ON TEACH THOUGHT 💭 

Education

Back to school

(Not just for the majority of the UK, but also for me.)

I’m heading back to BEET language center for another 3 months and I’m ecstatic!

My classes will be different once again as I go on to teach Pre-intermediate first thing, followed by an Upper-intermediate class before lunch. I’m super excited and I’ve been told that the majority of my Upper-ints will be Italians… So I thought I’d brush up a little.

Key phrases to remember

  • Buongiorno! (bwohn-johr-noh) (Hello! and Good morning!)
  • Come si chiama? (koh-meh see kyah-mah) (What is your name?)
  • Come sta? (koh-meh stah) (How are you?) (Formal)

I’m sure they will be absolutely wonderful and have no reason at all for me to speak any Italian, but I’m hoping with a few greetings they’ll at least be pleased! I never did get the hang of Italian.

On another note, teachers, what’s your favourite way to start your first lesson on a Monday morning? Surely not everyone wants to talk about their weekend, right?

Let me know in the comments if you have a favourite ‘opening’ chat or activity.

xo