1 August 2018

Good morning from Luang Prabang.

I’m sitting at Saffron Café overlooking the Mekong River. I have a book in front of me, but am taking a break from the slow reading to check in with you guys. (It’s really quite labourious reading a book when you don’t connect with the way the author is writing – it just doesn’t flow.)

So I want to finally share about the significant change that I mentioned previously: I had met a man and gotten into a secure, loving relationship. But as things go, the relationship ended three weeks ago.

So here I am, alone and boyfriend-less in Laos. It was difficult at first. But after a call with said man (we happily remain good friends) and happy events of last night, I am now truly content and enjoying my solo, relaxing holiday of books and cafés and spa (singular) and cocktails.

I have always enjoyed traveling alone, though I have to admit the prospect of being alone in Luang Prabang for four days having broken up with my boyfriend only three weeks ago was initially daunting. But all is fine now. I am happy. Truly happy.

Life is funny. It throws curveballs at you when you least expect them. On the morning of the big fight, I had no idea events would take such a dramatic and unfortunate turn.

Well, unfortunate is not the right word. As someone once said, good or bad, you have to wait and see.

In any case, what happened happended. I cannot take back what I said in that moment of flash anger, and in a way I don’t wish to. I want to take responsibility for my actions, and deep down I believe things happen for a reason. Our decision to break up was a sober one. Whether good or bad remains to be seen.

Since the break-up I’ve felt like a different person. More… grown up in a way. It’s hard to explain. I have truly surprised myself with how well I have handled the break-up. Yes, there were tears. But in general I have held up and continued to function effectively at work and in my personal life.

This break-up has also stirred up my long latent desire to get into shape. I have re-engaged my personal trainer, and as soon as I’m back in Bangkok I will go to the (somewhat pricey) gym near my condo and sign up to their Pilates and cycling classes – see, I’ve put some thought into this. Now all there’s left is to put the plans in motion. I want to be fit. I want to look fit. I don’t necessarily feel bad or ashamed about my body, but I want to feel excellent. It’s the only area in my life now that I’m not 100% happy with, and getting a body I’m proud to parade around (for lack of a better phrase) is now next on my to-do list.

A side note before I get back to my not-so-enjoyable book, I discovered a new favourite author: Kazuo Ishiguro. I’ve read three books by him so far: Never Let Me Go, When We Were Orphans, and The Remains of the Day. All three are excellent. Writing of the highest calibre. Strongly recommended. Too bad I only brought one book by him which I already finished in three sittings. Now I want to labour through the one I’m reading and hope that the other three I have left are more engaging.

So that’s my check in. How have you guys been? No unhappy break-ups on your end I hope. (Happy ones are okay.)

Until next time

Much love,

Val

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23 May 2018

Hello stranger.

Or to be more accurate, hello from a stranger. I’ve been away from my baby (this blog) for so long that I feel like a stranger on my own page.

I’ve been thinking about writing an entry for many weeks now, perhaps even months. And one thing has held me back: the most significant change in my life these past months is one I want to keep private. So every time I thought about updating my blog, I couldn’t answer the question of what I’m going to write about.

But here I am, not to tell you about the change, but to check in on other aspects of my life and re-connect with the blogger in me.

I am sitting in the training room at my company, DKSH. It’s been almost six months since I officially started in my role, and I feel increasingly like a fish in water. I am in today’s training as an observer. The fact that I am able to give valuable feedback both on delivery and content I consider an achievement. And I am taking meticulous notes, which I’ll consolidate (I use this word a lot now) and share with the facilitator over lunch, which I’ll organise in the next two weeks.

Except that, of course, right now I’m not listening and am here writing you guys. In my defense, the participants are sharing findings from their group discussion and the content here is of limited value to me.

In my last post, I mentioned signing up to the gym. Well, the gym is closing down at the end of the month. I have only a few classes left so I’m not too bothered. I’ll miss the community aspect and the nice ladies at reception (shame on me for not knowing their names), but one very positive thing came out of my subscription: I now have a personal trainer. He was one of the trainers I was having classes with, and I have now engaged him as my personal trainer. He is trained in many types of exercise and is pretty responsive to my body condition and requirements, so I’m pretty happy.

I’ve been very bad with exercising in general though. For about a month I was doing a stellar job: going to classes, swimming, running. But it petered out and I haven’t had the discipline to get back into it.

On the whole though, life is good. I am enjoying work at DKSH. The few students I’m teaching I enjoy interacting with. And the subtitles jobs keep coming. Not on their own, but – and I’m proud of this – because I’m proactively asking for them. I’ve got a regular show every weekend which I enjoy watching and translating, and am beginning to get some other stuff during the week. It’s a bit of a crunch to do subtitles during the week, but I’m able to do them fast enough now that it’s possible.

There’s one thing that I should change in my life though. I might be spending more money than I should be. Well actually I do know that I’m spending more than I should. I still save up a few 10ks every month, but I can do much better. If I’m more restrained in my spending, fewer fancy meals at restaurants. There are perfectly acceptable, much cheaper options in my neighbourhood.

But overall I’m happy. Life is good. I was thinking this morning while walking to work: “I’ve got this. I’ve (to an extent) figured it out.” And that felt good.

How have the past months treated you? Where are you now in life?

Until next time.

Much love,

Val

4 February 2018

2018! One month in and it no longer feels weird to write “2018” in dates. I no longer live in the past! Weeeeee

I hope the beginning of 2018 has been good to you. It certainly has been to me. I made a lot of positive changes, of which I’ll mention the most important: I subscribed to the gym!

To be accurate, it’s not really a gym, but a cardio gym with only classes. I’ve been struggling for (and I checked my dates) a month now to get back into exercising. Though my condo (which now feels like a home away from home) has a gym and a pool, the number of times I’ve been to use both (gym: 2; pool: 1) is abysmal. What happens is that when I get home, I feel all sweaty and have an irresistible urge to shower. And once you’ve showered and had dinner and feel all full and sleepy, then… you know the story.

So after many weeks of raking my brains for a solution to this self-created problem, the solution presented itself in the form of a brochure by the coffee machine in the office which two weeks ago caught my attention. It’s the brochure for said cardio gym. The price (though not low) is reasonable. And it solves the “get home feel tired shower then sleep” issue because I can go straight after I get off work! I went to visit the premises. All is new and clean, so I signed up.

And I’ve been twice (one BodyCombat class, which was a bit boring but good nonetheless, and a BodyJam class, which is basically a dance class and was amazing). The classes were practically empty (I was the only one in the BodyJam class), which I like, and the instructors were good. So I’ve sorted out my exercise issue and am optimistic going forward. I plan to go twice a week (which is how often I need to go to use up all my classes before my package expires), and at least once if I have a particularly busy week. My only fear now is that the gym, empty as it is, will close down before my 4 months are up. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen!

My next issue to solve now is that I’m completely useless after dinner. That’s problematic because I have to teach some nights and (starting tomorrow) will take Korean classes myself on Mondays. Because I have dinner as soon as I get home and am showered, the rest of the evening (a good two hours) is completely wasted in a haze of sleepiness. I mentioned this to my dad this morning and he suggested going downstairs for a walk by the canal to digest, which is a pretty awesome idea. I’ll implement that starting Monday and see how it goes. Another issue solved!

Last time I checked in with you guys, I talked about my concern about not being able to manage time effectively. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem anymore. In January, I had (if I remember correctly) six big subtitles projects for the two companies and though the stress level was high in some weeks, I survived fine. Going forward the workload will actually be less because one of my subtitles company changed its policy and will no longer be giving work to freelancers, which works in my favour. So now I can focus my efforts on the one company and can take more projects from them. A slight issue now concerning that is that my project coordinator changed (this is the third person now), and he still hasn’t assigned me any projects. I’ll give it a few more days then write him on Wednesday to see what’s going on. With my high expenses (rent and living in the city and social taxes and all that), I do need the subtitles if I’m to save up for the future.

So yes, 2018 has been good to me. I hope you are also having a wonderful start to the year.

Until next time!

Love,

Val

 

26 December 2017

I’m writing this post from my condo. I’m not sure how to call it yet – room, condo, home. It feels like a bit of everything. Home is still a bit of a stretch, but we’re getting there.

I’m very happy with myself for choosing this room. Of all the rooms I went to view, this wasn’t the best-looking, the most well-decorated, or the most well-situated, but probably the most “homey” room. I didn’t even think it was the most functional room, but it has turned out to be. This was one of the only rooms where the table isn’t in the kitchen, and now I’m very glad that this is the case. It’s so much nicer to work in the wide space of the living room, with light streaming in through the large bedroom windows, rather than in the cramped and not well-ventilated kitchen.

I was initially a bit skeptical because the table is right next to the shoe cabinet, but smell hasn’t been an issue at all. In fact, the room smells very nice thanks to the scent I bought from Bath & Body Works (where I properly splashed a considerable chunk of my money on my first visit – sure to be the first of many).

In short, life at the condo – at least the beginning of it – has been very nice. There have been spells of loneliness in between work and in the evenings when I come home and no one is there. But I’m sure that will change soon as I get used to the solitude of living on my own. So far I’m loving having the space all to myself.

I mentioned in my last post that a visit to IKEA was in order. And visited IKEA I did. 6,602 baht later, my room is now equipped for living. I didn’t feel like I picked up that many items while browsing, so when the cashier lady announced the sum I had to ask her to repeat it one more time. I’m particularly happy with my cushion (I have a big thing for soft, cushy cushions) which I’m now using as a bum-support (I don’t have a better word to describe it) for my work chair which is super hard.

I had my first visitors yesterday. My closest friend and his girlfriend came by and we celebrated Christmas together over (almost) a bottle of wine. We spent half the afternoon catching up (we hadn’t seen each other for a while), then went for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant at the community mall. Oh boy was the food good. My beef stew served with a fresh, warm baguette was delicacy to a T (I looked up how to write that).

I’m looking forward to the New Year when I’ll start working full-time. I’m slightly dreading it too because I’m not 100% certain of my ability to master time management. I’m going to be working at DKSH, doing subtitles work for two companies, teaching my private students, and on top of that I’ll have to find time to spend with myself and (ahem) my significant other (this is another new development), and my family and my friends. Now that I see it in writing, I’m dreading it indeed. It’s going to be a crunch but mankind has accomplished much more!

Did I mention my condo has a garden at the back that opens onto the canal? It’s a great space for relaxing, and possibly jump-roping in the mornings/evenings. (Yes, I bought a jump rope in the (hopefully not misguided) belief that I’ll dedicate a significant portion of my day to regular exercise – yet another thing to add to the list…)

Speaking of the list, I’ve got to get back to subtitles. I’m translating a documentary on African wildlife now. Not the most entertaining project I’ve had so far, but the process itself is fun.

I hope you’re all well.

Happy Boxing Day!

Love,

Val

9 December 2017

Today is the last day of my CELTA course. Ten weeks have flown by, like a dream. I’ll really miss doing the course and seeing the other trainees, the tutors, and the students. I was already feeling a bit teary at our last feedback session on Thursday. I can’t imagine how I’ll feel today. I hope I don’t cry…

Actually, in the end I’m not so sure if I’ll get an A. My performance in the last 2 TPs which are the most important was subpar. But somehow it’s not so important anymore. For a very important and possibly life-changing reason.

Suffice it to say, I feel very lucky. Very very lucky.

Back on the work front, I started my job at DKSH part-time a month ago. And things have been going swimmingly well. The best thing is I love the team I’m working with. They’re such talented and nice and helpful people. No office drama or anything like that. I’m also in a very good place in a very big organisation, a big step up from where I was before. The cherry on top is that I feel the work is meaningful and I enjoy it. I’ve finished one project so far. It was daunting at first, but turned out to be just the right level of challenging.

And with the new year will come another big change: I’m moving to the city. I went condo viewing yesterday, and after 15+ rooms I found ‘the one’. Not a flashy room by any count. Just a simple one but spacious and well-equipped. It’s not ready to be lived in yet; a visit to IKEA is in order. But home-shopping is the fun part! Going to sign the contract this Thursday and if all goes well I’ll be moving in in just under 2 weeks. 

So yes, that’s where my life is. All is good and well. Life is pretty enjoyable right now, and I’m happy. 

I hope all is going well for you too.

Love, 

Val 

28 October 2017

I handed in my first CELTA assignment last week, and am about to hand in the second one today. There are four assignments overall, so it appears I’ve reached the half-way mark.

This Tuesday I will be teaching my fourth assessed lesson of eight. This course has gone by in a flash – it’s crazy.

So far, I’ve been pretty happy with the course and my performance. Observing other trainees’ lessons has been eye-opening, and the input sessions on Saturdays have all provided much information that can and will be applied to my own teaching. Having learnt all this, I almost want to turn back time so I can re-plan and re-execute the many classes I had at Wall Street English. In retrospect, they could have been much better. 

We received our global evaluation after one-third of the course last week. I’m off to “a good start”, which pretty accurately sums up how I feel about how I’m doing. I’ve put care and effort into my lesson plans, and they have borne fruit in class. We’re getting our first assignment back today. I’m excited to find out what the tutor thinks of it. I was very detailed in completing it and reviewed it many times. I hope he is pleased.

A pleasant surprise is that so far the work has been manageable, even with the amount of subtitles work I keep heaping onto myself. Apart from working on Asia’s Next Top Model Season 1 for iflix, I took on a 6-episode French crime series La Mante for Netflix. Which I probably shouldn’t have. And I did reject a project previously – one much shorter and more manageable than the French series. But getting to listen to so much French and putting my French to good use (for pronouns and nuances), as well as working on a whole series, that was too good to turn down. I’ve managed it fine so far though. I can work at a speed now where I can finish two episodes in a day if I really sit down with it. So I’ve been able to work through them alongside my CELTA work.

A good thing happened yesterday actually. My Netflix project manager wanted to assign me another French series, a famous one this time, Marseille. I knew I couldn’t possibly handle one episode every two days, so I asked for three because “I’m working and studying at the same time”. Then in a very nice way she said that it was okay, that I’d better not take the risk since the show seems complicated. Then she said that there are other shows and if anything comes up she’ll definitely let me know. That was very nice to hear. I guess putting in a lot of work to maintain a high standard is bearing fruit. It feels nice to know that she sees me as a trusted hand.

I start my new job this Thursday. I can’t believe it’s happening so soon. I went in to sign the documents last week and boy was there a lot to get through. “Learning and Development Specialist” – it doesn’t roll off the tongue yet and if you ask me I still have only a tentative idea of what I’ll be doing. I hope to solidify that vision over the course of the next few weeks. It’s a new beginning, and I’m excited. Not too excited because I don’t generally get that excited about anything anymore, except maybe for coming up with an awesome translation for my subtitles work. But yes, excited nevertheless.

Thank you for reading another long post. Much is happening in my life, for a change. I hope you are all well and busy doing what you love.

Much love,

Val

12 October 2017

Today is my fifth day on the CELTA course, and I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying it. 

I went into it not knowing much about what it would entail, except that there will be a lot of lesson planning and assignments and that I’ll be working late into the night. 

There has been no burning of the midnight oil yet, thankfully. And I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. 

I’ve taught one get-to-know-students class. It was twenty minutes of setting up and playing a game. Then this past Tuesday I had my first 45-minute assessed teaching practice – TP in CELTA lingo. I think it went really well. Barring that I couldn’t do all of the activities (I had to shelve two), I felt I achieved most of my lesson aims. The students learnt something, and most of all they seemed to enjoy themselves.

That’s how I’ve always assessed my classes: the laughter. Maybe I shouldn’t do that, but the classes I’ve felt have gone better at Wall Street English were all classes where the students were relaxed and laughing. It’s especially satisfying when we can share jokes as a class.

I’ll be teaching one class a week from now until the end of the course – 8 TP in total. Lesson plans are provided for the first two, but after next week I’ll be on my own (ahem, “free to explore”). I’ve looked at my lesson plan for next week. And already the guidelines are less specific and leave much room for imagination, which is a good thing I guess?

One annoying thing about doing the course though is having to lug my laptop around. I’ve requisitioned my dad’s laptop backpack, thank God for that. But it’s still a pain to carry. I’d buy a lighter laptop but that’s not really a necessity no matter how I look at it. As for the commute, I don’t actually mind it. It takes about an hour and a half, which for me is bearable; I’m sitting down for the whole journey and it’s air-conditioned.

Now that I’ve tackled my first TP, the next thing on the agenda is the assignments. I’ve got four in total, and the first one is due in a little over a week. It’s a language analysis task. I’ve looked at it twice. Today before class I’ll have another scrutiny of the examples and that will probably give me a much better idea of how much work I have ahead of me. But from what I’ve seen it’s nothing unmanageable.

If there’s one thing in my life that’s semi going out of control (apart from my eating), it would be my subtitles work – I’m having a hard time keeping the hours down. I do really like doing it but most of the time I wonder whether I’m taking on too much. I don’t want to rush through my assignments and have my quality drop. I just finished a series of documentaries on the wonders of the flesh (yes, I’m talking about sex), and was promptly assigned Season 1 of Asia’s Next Top Model. I’ve done Season 3 so I’m used to the style and sequencing and vocabulary, so it will be easy work, but 13 episodes are still a lot to get through. Also, I want to keep some time free on the side for Netflix. I’ve asked to solely translate a Japanese show for them and new episodes come out every week.

But I’m not complaining. It’s something I really enjoy doing. I’m learning loads. And I’m getting paid for it! *Mini fireworks erupting*

Anyways, back to the CELTA, I’m learning so much. It’s awesome. I’ve met some really cool people on the course – trainer, trainees, students. I hope over the course of ten (nine now) I’ll get to know them better as people. We don’t really get much time to socialise but we get a few words in here and there. And I’ve been trying to go in early so I can speak with the others before class. That’ll change next month though because I’ll have to work until 5pm and it’ll take me some time (hopefully not more than 40 minutes) to get from the office (in Bangchak) to the school (in Silom). We’ll see. If it doesn’t work out I’ll change one of my working days to Wednesday.

That was quite a long post wasn’t it? I began writing this when I got on the MRT train and now I’m only 3 stations away from my stop. Seeing that yesterday I was busy texting my dad and missed my stop, I should probably put down my virtual pen here.

I hope you’re all doing swell. Until next time.

Love,

Val