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

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20 November 2015

I’ve got news. I think I’ve got myself my first English student. *fireworks*

It’s not easy trying to find students when you’re starting out in unfamiliar territory. I never had a problem when I used to give lessons to friends and acquaintances who are aware of my skills. But with strangers it’s a different matter. I can’t exactly present them with a miniature talking version of myself as a preview.

Nor would I want to, now that I think about it. It would be weird having mini copies of myself out there doing things completely outside my control.

Anyways, the first lesson is to happen this week. Here’s hoping that all goes well and the student is pleased with my unique(?) teaching method.

I’m at the mental hospital (gosh that sounds so wrong) right now waiting to see my doctor. It’s my monthly psychiatric appointment. (For those who don’t know, I was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Details here.) It’s always a long wait. Most happily the hospital now provides free WiFi so here I am writing this post. I did bring a book (Catch-22), but it gets boring after a while and writing makes the time go by much faster.

I’ve written about Catch-22 before on this blog and on my other blog so I’m not going to go into it again. I’m just going to repeat here that I find it a most wonderful book and I’m happy to be re-reading it. *happy sigh*

Oops. Doctor arrived twenty minutes early and got called in to consult. It’s all done and now I’m waiting for my prescription. I think today’s hospital visit is going to be the shortest yet. The only thing left is paying for and getting my mood-altering drugs. Hmm.

Before I go, I just wanted to report that my learning German is still going strong. Happily I have mastered die Öffentlichkeit and moved onto tackling other tricky words (so many of them!). Duolingo informs me that I am now on a 50 day streak. This is very good. I am pleased. So pleased that I am considering learning a sixth language (after Thai, English, French, Spanish, and German). I won’t say just now what language it will be. I will be back to let you know once I’ve actually started.

Love,

Val

p.s. Re: the novel… *radio silence*

30 September 2015

I got the job. Almost.

I was all set to start tomorrow. But then salary negotiations happened, and we could not agree on the value of me.

It’s all for the better, I guess. I don’t think I was ready yet to re-enter full-time employment, especially after the painful experience of the last one.

Plus, the more I think about it, the more I think I’m not cut out to be an office worker. I like being the boss of me too much to cede control to a third party.

So we (read: my mom and me) are going to explore a new venture. I’m going to try to sell my services for a living.

I had always sidelined as a proofreader. It paid well, but never became my full-time occupation. I’m going to try and focus on that more. I’m also going to see if I can give English and French lessons in my neighbourhood. This is a new thing. I’ve given lessons here and there, but I’ve never actively marketed myself as an English (and French) teacher before.

The French economist Say said (confusing, I know) in the 1800s,

Supply creates its own demand.

Though said law (I’m enjoying the wordplay) has long been refuted in economic theory, I am hoping against hope that it will now apply to my case. I’m going to put out flyers next week and see where that leads.

Again, fingers crossed.

Wish me luck!

Mucho love, as always,

Val

27 September 2015 (Part 1)

Dear reader,

It has been almost a year (well, ten months) since we last met. I am deeply sorry for my absence. I hope you have been leading pleasant lives, full of pleasant encounters and pleasanty things.

A lot, and nothing, has been happening on my end. Let me give you a summary:

  • First real job ended two months after it began. For a variety of reasons. You could say we were incompatible. I did not find meaning in the ups and downs of marketing, and the company did not find a suitable employee in me. I simply could not make myself passionate about the work I was doing, and this proved fatal to our match. In any case, I retain pleasant memories from my short tenure; and valuable lessons in sociology and psychology were learnt.
  • I went crazy. Literally. I don’t remember if I ever told you about my depressive episodes, which occurred recurrently in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014. (2012 was an entirely happy year, thanks to the wonderful offerings of Paris where I was spending my Erasmus exchange.) Anyways, I swung to the other end in late 2014, around the time I was leaving my job as Internet Marketing Analyst. By mid-January I was entirely out of it. I was deluded and I believe at one point hallucinating. My brain had gone haywire.
  • So, I was hospitalised. This was late January. To say ‘hospitalised’ is a bit misleading; I was forced to enter a mental hospital, where I was confined to the company of other crazy people for a month and a half. It was entirely traumatising, though the food was excellent. I gained weight and a disease: officially becoming a sufferer of bipolar disorder.
  • Reeling from the myriad effects of my medication (drugs that made my brain not go crazy), I was released from hospital in mid-March, from which time I have been home (hence the ‘nothing happening’ on my end). The drugs’ side effects wore off one by one. Apparently, for weeks after leaving the hospital I walked like C-3PO. Then the neck ache (never understood what that was about; my head was fine, it was the neck that hurt) disappeared. Gradually, the morning naps became shorter until, very recently, I was finally able to go the whole day without feeling sleep deprived. So yes, many months went by without nothing much happening. I watched Korean TV, Korean series (this one was my favourite), and Korean singers. I became something of an afficionado. (Like my mom, I must add. One of these days I shall surpass her knowledge of South Korea’s entertainment industry!) Apart from that I ate and walked. My father had kindly bought me a treadmill which I used daily to hill-walk in the (ever desperate yet futile) attempt to lose my hospital weight (the stress of being confined behind locked doors having been thoroughly relieved through overeating).

Recently, however, I have been writing. And that is why I am now here updating my precious baby. For many months I had planned on picking up a novel I had begun to write when I was seventeen. And finally, at the gentle yet firm urging of my doctor (whom I like very much) to find something more substantial than Korean entertainment to occupy my time, I opened the eight-year-old file and started writing. It’s a fantasy novel, a cross between Star Wars and Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire (ah yes, I forgot to tell you I have also been spending my time digging up old novels to read), with just a hint of Pop Economics and International Relations. It’s tentatively named The Gems of Azora and takes place on, you guessed it, the planet of Azora.

I’ve been writing everyday, but the book is advancing at a snail’s pace; I swear time disapparates (random reference) when I’m writing. I had left the book at 114 pages when I stopped writing eight years ago, and now I’m at 14. Wait… what? Yes. Sadly, I’m having to rewrite most, if not all, of what I’ve written. It turns out one’s command of English and general writing skills do improve over time. I shudder thinking back to my first reading of the sloppy, grammatically-inaccurate, and overly-complicated 114 pages I had produced as a teenager. Anyways, I’m rewriting it, and if I may I have to say the book is looking much better than it did before. I read and put the finishing touches on the first chapter yesterday, and I must say it is good fun. Fingers crossed, when the time comes, publishers will agree. I won’t tell you anymore just now, but I’ll surely be back to report on my progress.

That’s it for now. I hope you found this entry entertaining.

Much love,

Val

p.s. I’m thinking of taking up a part-time job as a waitress. There’s this trendy little restaurant near my house. I really like the atmosphere and the waiting staff is polite and efficient. I think I could have a good time working there while I finish my novel. Yes, maybe I should. We shall see…

 

 

 

19 September 2014

No one told me job hunting would be fun.

So. Much. Fun.

No. Really. I’m not being sarcastic. I’m actually really enjoying the process.

This enjoyment comes completely unexpected – I had pictured job hunting to be a long and torturous process, a soul-destroying endeavour that takes and takes and never gives, and that ultimately saps away all your confidence and self-belief, leaving you with an empty shell, an unemployed empty shell.

Granted, my expectations were rather exaggerated. And deep down I knew it couldn’t possibly be that bad. But still, I had expected the process to be a negative one: time-consuming, energy-consuming, confidence-draining, so on and so forth.

It has turned out to be quite the opposite, which has taken me by surprise. But a good surprise, the kind of surprise you get when your boyfriend gets you a gift for no apparent reason (birthday, Christmas, etc.), just because he wants to.

*pause so you can go awwww*

Anyways, to get back to my point, I’m finding this job hunting business to be surprisingly stimulating and self-affirming. For starters, producing customised CVs and cover letters is turning out to be an extremely rewarding process. It gives me a legitimate reason to sit down and spend hours thinking about all the good things I’ve done in life and how I’ve learnt and grown from past mistakes – something you don’t necessarily have the time or the inclination to do when you’re busy studying, or working for that matter.

And then, with each job application comes a whole world of possibilities. I happen to have applied for very different roles. Picturing myself in these different scenarios is, I think, one of the few times in my life where I’ve come close to actually understanding the saying “life is full of possibilities”. And it’s an extremely empowering feeling/realisation. It’s amazing.

Of course, this brimming optimism is most likely due to the fortunate fact that I haven’t had an application rejected yet. So of course life is full of possibilities. Get back to me when I’ve had my first rejection – we’ll see how full of optimism and self-belief I’ll be then!

On an unrelated note, I got back into teaching. So I was rooting about in my teaching folder and discovered my teaching log from when I was giving English lessons – and what on earth was I writing in that log?!? I had painstakingly come up with a system of notation that must have seemed clever at the time but now just gives me a headache. Over-complicating things – how typical of old me. I’m all for simplicity now – simple and effective! That could be my rallying cry. I should start adding that as a tagline in all my job applications – what do you think? *chuckles Sheldon-style*

On another unrelated note, I walked into a plant today. And it hurt. Yes, it really did. The leaf (you’ll understand when you see the picture) hit me right in my left eye socket, missing my eyeball by an uncomfortable 5-millimetre margin. I was sweeping the leaves on the patio and thinking about which long article to work on for my other blog when BAM. There I go for not paying attention where I walk, for letting my guards down in the perceived safety of my own garden. I’ve learnt my lesson.

2014-09-19 18.00.22

Meet the offending plant.

2014-09-19 17.59.59

The ‘leaf’ in the middle of the picture is the one I managed to poke my eye with. It’s like walking into a block of wood.

I’m lucky to have escaped without a black eye. To have escaped with both eyes, even. So yes, sweepers beware – look before you walk. It’s not for nothing that they say most deaths occur from accidents in the household. Just think, I could have lost an eye. *shudder*

With love,

Val

p.s. Oh and do wish me luck for my job applications. I am taking my time, as I so emphatically wrote in my last post. But still, it’d be nice to have some offers for me to take my time considering. Choice is bad, but money is good. *evil grin*

p.p.s. How random was this post? How did I go from the empowering effect of job applications to a murderous plant?! I must be a torture to read. Thank you for putting up with my writing antics!