13 April 2019

Happy Thai New Year!

I’ve been thinking of updating this blog for a few days now, and finally found some time to sit down in front of my laptop and do it.

In the shower just now, I was thinking of how to position this post. And I came up with this opening sentence: I was always told that change is constant, but only now I am beginning to experience it in my own life.

As is my custom, I went back to read my previous post before beginning to write, and lo and behold! The first sentence in my last post:

Change is kind of nice.

Strange that the theme of last post was also change. I guess it only proves my point: change is constant.

So, why am I saying that I am experiencing change? If you remember, back in December last year many members of my team were laid off due to cost savings. Then I had that tumultuous period at work which I told you about in my two previous posts. And then, just as I thought the dust had settled, a few weeks back – maybe a month by now – my boss told me that she’s leaving the company.

Shock! Horror! My boss is somewhat of an institution at my company. She has been there for 6 years and there was previously no indication of her leaving. But she is. When she told me the news, I was shocked for a few brief instants, but then it sank in. There was also panic as I thought: shit, are they going to hire someone from outside to head the team? I didn’t like the sound of that.

Thankfully, they are moving someone internally to head the team, and guess who that someone is: my previous boss! So, I’m back in my old nest. My two bosses (past, present, and past-cum-future) are very different in management style, but I think I’ll adapt just fine. I’m just relieved they didn’t put in someone completely new. I know I should know better, but uncertainty still scares me.

So that’s the big change. And I have come to accept now that there will undoubtedly soon be further changes at work. Not that I know of anyone planning to leave. It just always is that way. (nods sagely)

There has also been a change on the personal front. Me and my boyfriend (can I call him long-term now that we’ve been together for over 8 months?) – oops – dad has arrived (he’s driving me to the airport). Well then, writing shall resume at the airport!

I’m back! So yes, me and my boyfriend were talking about where we could live from next year. And where previously we were only talking about Hanoi, now we’re also considering Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh city. It’s not my favourite Vietnamese city but I’ve decided to keep an open mind. We’ll scout it out one weekend later this year. So yes, personal life-changing plans also change!

I’m at the airport now about to fly to Hanoi on my third visit to my boyfriend since we started dating. I love Hanoi; for some inexplicable reason it’s one of my favourite cities. So I’m excited to be there for a few days. Tickets were rather expensive as it’s the long holiday (Thai New Year innit) but worth every penny.

I should go and get started on my next book. I’ve been reading regularly. I’m onto my fourth book of the month now, which is pretty good considering we’re only two weeks in: Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled. He’s one of my favourite authors and I’m just whizzing through his books. They’ve all been enjoyable so far. I wouldn’t say they were all “fun”, but certainly very immersive, which is what I look for in a book. Fun is overrated anyways.

I hope you’re all well and enjoying the constant change of life.

Until next time.

Love,

Val

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18 February 2019

Change is kind of nice.

The reason I’m saying this is I just read my post from 9th January and I’m realising how much things have changed, and how good I feel about that.

I’m not saying all change is good for everyone. Just that I’m rather fond of the the kind of change happening in my life right now.

So I just came back from an eight-day beach vacation with my (now six-month-long) boyfriend (confettis!). We spent twelve days together (counting the time we were in Bangkok), which is the longest we’ve ever been in each other’s presence. And it was fine! More than fine, in fact. It was absolutely wonderful. So we revisited the idea of moving in together (which requires me to quit my job and move to Hanoi).

Over the course of that conversation, we discussed what I’d be doing in Hanoi and what I should do regarding the job situation. The conversation was a short one, but where things stand after are miles apart from where they were before, hence the “good” change I’m talking about.

To give you a bit of background of the events of the past month post-talk with boss (mentioned in my previous post), I did feel better after sharing with her my plan to leave. She made some good suggestions, and the talk gave me perspective on my situation. With that new perspective and a new practice of reviewing my progress and development in our weekly meetings, I have been feeling better at work – re-engaged.

Whereas six weeks ago the thought of staying in this job for another eleven months was difficult to stomach, now it seems fine. More than fine, in fact. I’m enjoying what I’m doing again. It’s still not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life – that much hasn’t changed – but I’m choosing to look at the positives and there are enough to justify staying in it. For now.

So, going into the conversation with my boyfriend ten days ago, my feelings about my job were much more positive than what they were when I burst into hysterics mid-call back in January. And as we discussed my options regarding the move, I asked myself: why do I have to leave at the end of the year? After all, I only plan to move to Hanoi in July next year. Why not stay in the job for another six months and get a solid income, save up some funds for the move?

Initial reasons for leaving the job at the end of the year were two-fold: a) it gives me time to “prepare” for moving to another country and b) my housing contract expires in December. Looking at them again, b) is kind of silly as of course I can extend my contract at the end of the year for another 6-7 months (at least I think I can…).

And as for a), over the course of the conversation we began to look at the move differently. This doesn’t have to be the “be all, end all”. We’re not going to buy a house with a picket fence in Hanoi and settle down. The move may well be temporary. He doesn’t know yet where he wants to be long-term, and neither do I. Hanoi is good as a base for some time, but nothing binds us to it.

So I’m now looking at the move as a transition period. And I don’t think I have to leave my job six months before to prepare for a transition period. I can just leave, then transition, then during that time prepare for what’s coming next. Hanoi can be a place for me to pause and re-evaluate the different pieces of my life, and work out where I want to go next country-wise and professionally.

And now that I’m thinking like that, I’m not so stressed anymore. I don’t need to figure out between now and July 2020 what to do for the rest of my life. In fact, now it seems silly that just a month ago that’s exactly what I expected myself to do. And with the burden of stress now lifted, everything seems lighter. I’m enjoying my job more. I’m less confused, and no longer frustrated. And this is such a big change from just six weeks ago. The state I was back then and now… light years apart.

So yes, I’m happy. This has been a pretty drifty post. I’m in a drifty mood. I just wanted to drop by and check in with you guys. Now it’s time to focus and get back to work.

Lots of love and until next time,

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 

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

27 September 2017

Today is the first day of my last week at Wall Street.

It has come, the beginning of the end.

Strangely, the overwhelming feeling is excitement. I don’t know whether I’m excited to go to work or to not have to go to work anymore. In any case, I’m buzzing.

I start the CELTA next Tuesday. For that I feel more dread than excitement. For now. I’m sure it’ll be okay… I think?

So I’m working today – half-day – then tomorrow – a full day – then half-days on Friday and Saturday, and that’s it. I’ve organised to have lunch with some of the people from work this week, and I’m looking forward to those.

Saturday is going to be weird. I end my working life at Wall Street with a class actually. I’m teaching high-level students about aliens. I haven’t planned it yet. Wow, my last class at Wall Street already. There have been many – good and not-so-good ones. I’ll miss them all, the challenges, the laughs.

People move on and life goes on. Though I may be missed for a time, Wall Street will be just fine without me.

One week to go. I’ll do my best to get things done right this week.

Love,

Val