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

 

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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

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 another online content provider. 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 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 another provider. 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

30 August 2017

Another big news: I went in for a second interview yesterday at what I’ll now call the company, and I really liked what I heard. So this morning I shot the managers who interviewed me an e-mail saying, word for word, that “I’d really like to take on this challenge if you’ll give me the opportunity”.

I had turned down said opportunity once before, in an e-mail from what seems like light years ago. This was after my first interview for a Coordinator role. They hadn’t given me the job, but I withdrew my application before I could find out either way.

I thought long and hard this time, and finally decided to go with it. It’s a scary new journey (if they take me), but ultimately I believe it’s one worth taking. The position I interviewed for this time is a crossover between a project manager and an analyst role. I’d be in charge of – and I’ve said this a million times to a million people in the past 24 hours – coming up with and implementing measures to ensure effectiveness of training, within and outside the classroom. The job would be project-based. I come up with them. I run them.

Sounds good, right? I’m not sure if you know this, but I’ve always been interested in behavioural economics. I could say I was ‘obsessed’ at one point. Game theory and all. I used to tear through volumes and volumes of ‘pop economics’ books and lap up theories about how people make decisions and what influences them. And now, in what appears to be a culmination of my studies, I’ll get to apply the science in a real-world situation. A mass experiment, if you’d like. And get paid for it.

So it’s a pretty sweet deal from the personal interest side of it. The downside of it is that I’ll have to work in a quiet partitioned office (which I hadn’t been so keen on in the past). On the (literally) bright side, the office is nice and small, airy, and I can have the table by the window (according to my would-be boss). The glare from the sunlight will be horrible there though, so I don’t know. Whoa, slow down. I’m getting ahead of myself.

The real downside of it is that I’ll have to give up a large chunk of my subtitles work. I think I’ll be okay with the provider I’ve always worked for. But the other company I’m not so sure about. There’s a set requirement of how many programme hours their freelancer has to undertake per month. It’ll be really difficult, probably impossible, to reach that requirement, so I may well have to give up being their contracted freelancer.

In any case, it’s decided. I’ve sent the e-mail. There’s no going back. Now what’s left is to sit tight and wait for their call, be it the heralder of yes news or no news. The wonderful thing in all this is that there is no bad news. There’s just one scary path, and a comfortable one. If I don’t get the job, I’m perfectly happy with what I have. If I get the job, it’ll scare me to death but I’ll learn a lot along the way, wherever that way may lead.

So, let’s wait and see. We also never got round to discussing the salary. I’ll be happy if they don’t skimp and offer what I asked for. But I also can’t help hoping for just a little bit more…

Humans, what greedy creatures we are.

With love,

Val

25 August 2017

Big news: I quit my job two days ago.

And I realised one thing about myself: I make major decisions pretty quickly.

The decision to go part-time was made over the course of one evening, and this one was too, well overnight if you count the time I spent in bed calculating how much I can earn from only translating subtitles.

Here’s how the decision came about.

On the afternoon of the 22nd, I was at home working on my subtitles (a Turkish historical series that’s a right b*tch to translate). Then I started having a conversation with my subtitles supervisor at my new company (I’m officially freelancing for two media providers now, yey!)

We were negotiating my monthly workload, and it became blindingly clear during the intense discussion that it’s just not going to work. I’m starting my CELTA teacher training course on 3rd October, which is going to be 13 and a half hours per week, then there’s homework on top of that. Then there’s the ten hours of show that my supervisor and I agreed on, then there’s my teaching (I got 3 new students hooray!). And then I still want to continue working for my first subtitles company. The shows are varied and interesting. I get to translate Korean content (from an English source though). Plus, the new project coordinator is super nice and I don’t want to disappear from her radar.

And that with 20 hours at Wall Street English on top? I might die, or go crazy, which is entirely possible.

So on the morning of the 23rd, I called my manager and informed him that I am resigning at the end of September. I’ve filled in the resignation form and will tender it first thing when I see him today.

Life without Wall Street English will be strange. It’s become a big part of my life in the past year and a half – the people, the place, the atmosphere. But life must go forward, and something’s gotta give.

Hello freelancer life! May the Gods be kind.

Love,

Val

7 August 2017

The beginning of a post from 2 August 2017:

I’m sitting in an air-conditioned café, sipping an over-heated americano. 

It’s been a long morning. 

I woke up at six. Got ready. Had muesli for breakfast, then left the house around seven.

Oh how things change.

On the morning of the 2nd, I was waiting for my subtitles translation interview and testing session at iflix, where a former manager at Wall Street English is now working.

I had the interview, did the test, got the job. My future in the subtitles translation world was looking rosy.

Then my universe was turned upside down when, a few days ago, I was approached by the former National Service Manager of Wall Street English regarding a job opening.

As you may or may not know, I am not currently looking for a full-time job. I’m happy with my part-time and freelance work. 

But – and you’re going to think me shallow for this – it pays so well. So, so very well. Well actually if you take into account all the revenue I get from my freelance work I’m currently earning higher than the base amount. But salaries can be negotiated and the high base salary is an indicator of the significance of the position.

And that attracts me.

So I expressed my interest, sent off my CV and cover letter, completed the online personality questionnaire, and this morning finished my 10,000-word long interview answers. (Overboard? That’s me.)

The more I prepared for this interview and though about it, the more I want it (which is probably a good sign). The job is a coordinator position in a large multinational. It will be challenging. It will utilise all my skills. It will expand my business horizons and grow my potential. And hopefully I’ll be working with competent, passionate people if the HR department have been doing their job properly.

I think I can do it. I really do. I think my skills set is a good match for the position. I think it is about time I had a challenging job. I’ve been coasting along for the past few years, time to buckle down and do some serious work.

The interview is tomorrow, at 8:30am. I’ve arranged to meet my grandfather – a corporate veteran – in the morning to ask for his advice.

The rest of today will be me reviewing my answers and trying not to think about the interview. I’m on my way to three appointments: coffee with a dear, dear friend, an interview with a PhD student/university lecturer who’s doing research on subtitles translation for her dissertation, then dinner with my group of friends from school. Which I think is perfect. 

I wonder if I’ll be able to sleep tonight. I’m glad it’s happening sooner rather than later though. 

Phew.

*Deep breaths*

Here goes…