Claire in China

China – 6 weeks later

And I still haven’t received a single penny.

I’ve had enough now.

Last week I had yet another email full of contradicting statements and it was basically ‘we will pay you for the hours you’ve worked TO THE PENNY even though head office don’t want to pay you’

Yet again showing that contracts in China mean nothing, and if someone is the ‘director’ of a company it actually doesn’t mean anything either.

If someone has to keep shouting about what a great person there are, they’re obviously trying to reassure themselves that it’s true, even though it’s the complete opposite.

I honestly hope no one ever has to deal with the person I’ve had to.

I enjoyed some of my time in China but I absolutely regret believing that this man was a good person to work for. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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Claire in China, Photography, travel

Monkey Mountain – Walking in Lianyungang, China

Hey everyone!

I’ve been slacking and I apologise.

I finally got WiFi at home yesterday which means I can actually use the internet again. It’s been almost impossible to get online outside of Starbucks, and trying to blog has been a nightmare. I promise I’ll do my best to update regularly again, and I still have a Shanghai post to do ASAP.

So! Today, my friend Dean and I went on his bike to a mountain called HuaGuoShan (花果山) which doesn’t translate to monkey mountain, but that’s it’s English name, apparently.

It was warm by 8:30am and as we drove through this deserted city, looking around at empty buildings and flat land, we kinda knew it was going to be a good day!

The drive was less than 20 minutes and our first view was a small pagoda in the middle of a lake, then suddenly we realised we’d arrived at the base of the mountain.

You could feed Koi Carp with a baby bottle, buy toy monkeys and strange rainbow hats! The ticket cost ¥100 (£10) for Dean, but free for me because I have a ‘tourist card’ #winning

And we saw little goats too!

We couldn’t take the bike through so we started walking, both claiming how unfit we were and that we’d never make it too far. Oh boy did we prove ourselves wrong!

First stop ✋🏻 we had to take photos, of course

We decided to take the 349 steps up, because why take a bus when you’ve only just arrived – right? They nearly killed us! Or so we thought.

We came across mini pagodas, look out towers, blossom everywhere! And, wait, even. more. stairs.

The views were unbelievably beautiful and we knew the more we walked, the more amazing it would be. We met people along the way who wanted take selfies with us, with their kids, they were videoing us or chatting. It was lovely! One old guy was RUNNING up these stairs, encouraging others to ‘keep going’ and he was telling us how we had to go to this temple because it had thousands of years of history, so we joined him. And found monkeyyyyyys!!!

Dean was desperate to find the waterfall, so we kept on walking to reach it, stopping only very briefly to catch our breaths. Everything we passed was fantastic and so interesting! The waterfall was a welcoming sight though as we could walk (err, run!) under it and cool off

(And then go through this awesome underground tunnel – very dark, full of water and Dean nearly knocked himself out because the walls were so low!)

More monkeys, pagodas, caves and an insane view followed as we tried to make our way down the mountain! We met these adorable children and their parents who wanted to take photos with us! And we met them a further 3 times after that. They kept calling us ‘a yi’ and ‘shushu’ which mean auntie and uncle, usually just a form or respect for any man or woman older than you. It was so sweet. I just wanted to hug them all.

You’d think coming down the mountain was easy right? Hell no. We were both struggling with bad knees, leg cramps… we were like a super old, injured pair! It must’ve been quite funny to watch. But, we made it! It was 30°C and pretty clear skies, not much pollution over the mountain which made it even hotter. For some reason Dean wore jeans, I was smart and wore running gear!

Once we hit the bottom of the mountain we slowly wandered back to the bike, and decided we both deserved food and beer – at my favourite Taiwanese restaurant.

#wemadeit

We drove back through the empty city and on the way saw an awesome fountain!! So of course we had to pull over and we discovered a beautiful, enormous local park!

Although we could barely stand up, pulling up outside the restaurant felt like arriving at the gates of heaven! (Okay, slightly dramatic but I really thought I was going to pass out!) food, beer and coffee went down extremely well and after 5 hours of walking, we absolutely deserved it.

I’m obviously now waiting for my six pack to suddenly appear, and have been extremely healthy all day. I can only hope I do the same tomorrow but I almost know that I won’t.

Apologies again for not updating sooner, I hope you at least enjoy this post!

Lots of love xo

Claire in China, Uncategorized

48 hours in China

Mayday mayday… I’m homesick as BLEEEEEP.

I apologise for not updating yesterday, I’m using my UK SIM card for internet on my phone and it’s costing me AN ABSOLUTE FORTUNE!! Thank god I left money in my UK bank account. Wow. So far £8 per day. My entire phone bill, when I finally get a China SIM card is only going to cost £11 per month for UNLIMITED DATA and UNLIMITED HOME WIFI!!! £11 guys!!

Okay I’ll back track a little,

Thursday morning we woke up in Ringwood to a fair amount of snow. Like, more snow than we’ve had in Ringwood for about 7 years. Bournemouth had more! My sister and I layered up over our PJs and went outside to take photos before we froze to death. 2 days layer there was about 2ft of snow in Bournemouth. It’s safe to say I’m quiet envious of everyone. ,y colleagues and students went sending me photos of the snow, snowball fights, classes were cancelled. I can’t believe I missed out!

On the hand… this is what I got up to.

My first flight was cancelled so they put me on one at 8:35pm, after my parents dropped me off at 1pm. I was 3kg over on my baggage allowance and I could see the woman wanted to charge me but after about 30 seconds of contemplation she just warned me about being more careful next time. If only she knew how much I had left behind already. My hand luggage was heavy and killing my shoulders, but thankfully UK security is always really easy and well organised.

I wandered around and around terminal 3 for hours, had some food, coffee, walked some more… I won’t lie, I hate terminal 3. It’s so boring. The shops are totally overpriced and pointless. Finally 7:20 arrived and I could go to the gate. Everyone was running around like headless chickens and at least it gave me, and the guy next to me, something to laugh about.

Luckily, I sat next to two lovely ladies who were on their way to Hanoi! And I had no one sat behind me! So the flight was relatively comfortable, even though I have always struggled with flying. I can never, ever sleep. I’m never comfortable. This flight wasn’t too bad. I watched Coco (it’s ADORABLE!! You have to see it!!) and my favourite, Walk the Line (I’m still singing the soundtrack now) and Wonder (with Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) which was a truly moving film. I think I cried at least 4 times! Plus, ordering an Indian vegetarian meal was the best decision ever – absolutely delicious!!

Unfortunately we were delayed by an hour, which meant we landed AFTER my connecting flight had taken off. There were at least 10 of us in this situation and the minute we stepped off the plane there were about 5 different ground staff helping us. Each passengers name was on a big board and we had new boarding passes issued. I still only had 30 minutes before the next flight took off so I ran through the airport, getting totally lost as I forgot you go through a transfer security check in Hong Kong and absolutely no one was helpful in directing me on WHERE THE HELL I NEEDED TO BE. I was the last one on the transfer bus and finally made it onto the plane.

That flight was also delayed by 45 minutes and they had no vegetarian food, despite offering me the choice of pre-ordering it. So I had a salad and glass of Russian orange juice, which was bright luminous orange and tasted bizarre! I’m still alive though.

Once I arrived in Shanghai, it was all quite simple and I was pleasantly surprised, thinks ‘ooh this is easy’. WRONG CLAIRE. WRONG!!!!! My bags arrived very quickly and as I looked for the exit I felt something just shy of horror. A SEA OF PEOPLE. AN OCEAN. OH MY GOD. And what were they waiting for? Yes, the exit. But why the queue? A bag scan. At the exit. So everyone was queueing up to have their bags scanned before they leave the airport. In theory this makes sense, but it is NOT PRACTICAL AT ALL. There is one X-ray machine, one thin line and about 400 people all trying to push, shove and barge their way through. Twice I had my ankles clipped by some douche with a trolley. As if that’s going to get you anywhere faster mate! Ugh.

My boss’ stepfather in law (lol) was collecting me, but he was nowhere to be seen. Nor did he accept my friend request on wechat (basically Chinese what’sapp) so I messaged my boss and his wife to see what had happened. 20 minutes later he finally showed up, it turns out he had been waiting in the car lol. Not very helpful, especially as I was hungry, tired and very cold. We took a taxi from Shanghai Pudong airport over to a hotel next to Shanghai Hongqiao airport, which took over an hour as we dropped one guy off in a different part of town. This was a culture shock, this drive. Ready for this? 1, they chain smoke IN THE CAR! Now for some people that might be normal, but I felt like my asthma was coming back after 20 years. And 2, they spit. All the time. With noise. With force. Oh my god it’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever experienced. I really, really hate spitting. I find it vile and offensive (you may remember my previous post on manners? Haha)

When I finally arrived at the hotel, the staff were rude. Their English was fine, I didn’t really need to use my Chinese but they were very short tempered and were happy to let another couple push in front of me WHILST THEY WERE CHECKING ME IN. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! No way. I don’t think so.

It took them half an hour and 3 phone calls to check me in. My boss was going to pay over the phone and they just weren’t happy with it. It was gone midnight before I finally got to my room. It was noisy. Kids were running up and down the corridor, people were shouting, etc. So I jumped in the shower, spent forever washing my hair and then ages drying it. Everyone else was making a noise so why not, right? I fell asleep around 1:30am, and had to wake up at 5:30 to get the shuttle bus to the airport.

TWO COUPLES shoved me out of the way to get on the bus. Not a single person helped me with my 4 bags. And this kid was jumping around and shouting. Talk about a painful start to the day. And at the entrance of the airport was that bloody X-ray machine!! Aaaagh it’s such a nightmare! It’s logical in theory but not at all in practice. Again, no one offered to help me, but they certainly didn’t mind shoving me or my cases out of the way!! Check in took ages and the place was like a zoo. I had to pay for excess baggage, which I knew I would. For 13kg over I only paid about £20! They charge £30 per extra kilo back home so I was ridiculously lucky. I barely had time to grab a croissant from costa before heading to the plane. Of course I was the only white person. And I had a window seat next to a rather large woman who was immediately hacking, coughing and spitting into a bag, all whilst shouting down the phone to someone. I was horrified and I think it showed on my face. The air hostess looked at me and said, ‘excuse me mam, would you like to sit at the front?’ YES I BLOODY WOULD!!!!!!!!! I could have hugged her, or cried. I did neither. But I did enjoy my flight in peace and with a little extra space.

The flight was less than an hour and weirdly, we had to have the blinds down and all of the lights off as we landed. Very bizarre. The airport was minute. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a small airport in my life. We were inside within about 30 seconds of stepping off of the plane. It was dark, dirty and very eerie I must say.

One of my colleagues came to pick me up, which was certainly appreciated, and the drive into the city reminded me so much of Phuket, except for the tropical island thing. It was run down, barren almost. People were working in fields, little huts were people’s homes. The traffic is as mental as I remember. No one follows any rules, everyone beeps continuously for absolutely no reason and you almost feel like you won’t make the drive.

We went straight to the school were I met my boss’ wife and some other colleagues, who all seem lovely and the school itself is amazing. So many lovely pictures, paintings and BOOKS!! The cutest book corner. After dropping off my heavy bags we went to Starbucks for breakfast, and later on I met my boss. I first interviewed with him 3 months ago, so we’ve spoken quite a bit since then but he is just as nice as I imagined. Very professional but a decent person, that’s already obvious.

The contract for my apartment had just been signed so he helped my take my suitcases over, and I finally got to rest. The apartment is awesome. There is so much space!!! I’m fully expecting people to come out and visit me, ok guys? I have TWO BEDROOMS!!! The only thing I find odd is the bathrooms in China, and I know Taiwan is the same, but a toilet and a shower right next to each other?? With no shower basin?? So the shower sprays aaaaaall over the toilet. It’s bizarre and I totally do not understand this! And my hearing doesn’t work at the moment, but that’s apparently because the remote batteries are dead. Even though the remote turns on. We’ll see what happens when I replace the batteries later. Haha. “This is China!”

So I tried to sleep but I was cold, hungry and didn’t yet have a kettle. Or any water. Which meant nothing to drink, eat and no hot water bottle. I had awful stomach cramps and really needed medicine and some comfort. But hey, I survived. Around 4pm Vivi, one of my colleagues, brought over some things for the flat and took me to try and get a SIM card, which didn’t work out, so I took a walk along the river and then a taxi to one of the nearby malls. It was awesome!

Wan da plaza

It’s brilliant. Loads of restaurants, some fresh fruit stalls, fruit juice, ice cream, whatever you’d want!

Plus, my favourite kind of stores. The stationery, random crap, weird phone cases types of shops. Of course everyone was staring at me or following me around, but I felt happy. I could buy things and not break the bank. Of course it’s not as cheap as it used to be when I first lived in China but it’s still much cheaper than the UK! Then went to the supermarket to buy a few essentials. Some girls asked if they could have my trolley because they didn’t have coins, I said yes,and they were adamant that they wanted to send me the 1 yuan (10p!) by the Chinese version of PayPal (more of less) and they were horrified when I said it didn’t matter. That was a funny, odd, experience. I also bought a stove kettle for £2 – hahaha! Who even uses those anymore?

The taxi home cost me £1! What a bargain hey?!

I couldn’t be bothered to cook so I had some koala crackers for dinner and made myself a hot water bottle. Out the new bedding on my bed, grabbed my hoodie and fluffy socks and jumped into bed.

10pm to 9am of sleep, with a 3am snack and quick chat to my mum.

I’m not going to lie to you guys, I cried myself to sleep last night. The homesickness hit hard just before bed. Actually whilst making my bed. It’s the only household chore I hate and my mum almost always helps me do it, this was just another reminder of how far away she is. I didn’t think homesickness would really happen, and certainly not this quickly, but it has. It’s here.

I woke up feeling it. I’ve cried at least 6 times today and it’s only 3pm.

  • I cried when my jeans got soaked in the rain.
  • I cried when they couldn’t issue me a SIM card.
  • I cried when I heard despacito playing.
  • I cried when this kid pointed at me and called me American.
  • I cried saying goodnight to my mum
  • I cried because the ‘taco’ restaurant is actually a steakhouse.
  • I cried when I couldn’t find Starbucks.
  • I cried when I instagrammed about being homesick.
  • I’m crying now as I write this.
  • I’m crying stupidly now about how much I’ve been crying.

Dear god please make my brain realise that being here is a good decision.

I keep trying to remind myself that being here, on my own, without my ex, is so much better than if he was here with me. Being here in my own is 100% the right decision for me and my future. I just hope I am strong enough to stick it out, and not run home like a little baby.

So as I sit here in Starbucks, trying to feel a little normal, I realise I’ve been writing this blog post for an hour, and during this time about 40 people have stared at me, 5 or 6 have pointed at me. I realise that things could be worse. I could be out of a job, struggling for money, trying to get people to notice me, like me, talk to me. I’m certainly not short of the first and third thing here. Everyone’s looking, everyone’s trying to talk. Tomorrow I am meeting so foreign locals for dinner and from talking to them online they seem really nice! Tuesday is football day. I have a lot to look forward to, I just hope it works out.

On a side note, I took a weird electric tuktuk taxi thing to get here, thinking it would be cheaper, the bloke charged me more than double what the taxis do and then had a fist fight with a guy and wouldn’t give me my change…. are you freaking kidding me?!?

I’ll wrap this post up now, I want to head off and find some food and craft stuff. Possibly an extra jumper and a pair of slippers, as it’s only 5°C here!

Addition:

I’m back to where I started this morning, all because no where in this city seems to have working wifi.

ALL I WANT TO DO IS TALK TO MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY!!!

Ok so the second mall I went to was good fun, I already like it there. I managed to buy a sketchbook, FINALLY some nail files, after looking in about 7 different shops!! I got called ugly, by a woman who definitely wasn’t attractive, and then I cried some more.

I took a taxi home, thinking there was a cafe with wifi nearby. WRONG!! Then I walked to two different cafes and neither of them had wifi, so I kept walking, for 25 minutes just to use a western toilet and finally get to a Starbucks with working wifi. All I wanted to do today was talk to my mum. I can’t wait to get a working sim card so I can stay at home and talk to people.

Anyway, I’ve also decided to start a YouTube channel, please let me know if you watch it and if you have any tips! My username is gzxklair and I’ve also made a hashtag for Instagram #gzxklairinchina

Link: https://youtu.be/xkIvv22VLbk

Happy Sunday everyone and stay tuned!

xo

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.

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.