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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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

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 Netflix. 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

21 June 2017

My work star is on the rise.

I recently got my first writing gig (articles on psychology for a foundation based in Chiang Mai), and subtitles work is flowing in. I’m on the fourth episode of my first Korean drama, and I was asked today whether I’d be interested in editing other translators’ work (Surely that must mean my translation isn’t too bad, right?).

I’m slightly concerned what it’ll be like come 3rd October when I begin my CELTA course. I’ve finished my application but have yet to submit it. I’ll do it soon. Now I’m wondering how it’ll be like time-management-wise. I’ll be working four days a week, studying three days a week. Granted, most of those are half-days. But there’ll be homework from CELTA. On top of that there’s the writing and the subtitles. And teaching my one private student. It’s going to be a tough 10 weeks.

I’m preparing for it though. I’ve started cutting down my sleeping hours to a maximum of 8 (from 9-10). I want my body to get used to sleeping less, and I think 8 hours is a pretty solid amount. I’ve also cut down on my nap time. No more long naps, 30 minutes maximum.

I’m also trying to not be lazy and get on the treadmill. I want my body to be in better condition. Plus, my weight has been creeping up these past months. So it’s a win-win situation.

Overall, I’m pretty happy though. I’m doing something that I really like. The subtitles job has truly been a blessing. And I’m enjoying it even more now that it’s a Korean drama. For some reason, it’s much easier to translate. The first time I watch the video, I already have a running commentary in Thai in my head. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched so many of them that I know how they work. Plus, this drama is really fun. It’s a medical investigative drama. The production and acting is solid, and the storyline imaginative.

So yes, I’ve been doing well. Slightly iffy about the future, but you never know until you try, and I’ve been pretty easy on myself these past few years. Time to buckle up and push forward.

Hope you’re all doing well!

Love,

Val

 

9 May 2017

Today has been a super productive day so far.

I woke up at 5:20, got up around 5:30, drank coffee and chilled for half an hour, then did subtitles work for 2 hours straight.

And translated exactly 425 lines. You may not know how much that is, but it’s a massive amount. I usually average just above 100 lines per hour.

In minute terms, I was taking 4 minutes to translate each programme minute. That’s like a million light years away from my speed (as of Saturday) of 1 programme minute every 7 minutes.

That’s like… WOAH.

Then after that I prepped my class for tomorrow; I’m teaching two students at 7:30 and 10am. I finished prepping the first and outlined the steps for the second. Then I got tired of working so I stopped. It was about 10:47am. (Ok fine, it was exactly 10:47am.)

So I did one-third of my current subtitles project and finished more than 60% of my class planning in less than five hours, with a half-an-hour break in the middle watching Hannibal.

That’s an incredible improvement on the 4th of May, which I wrote about here. I blame George Lucas. The Dark Side must have been at work.

So yes, I had an amazingly productive morning, which I’m super happy with. Then I got ready and left for town.

I decided to take the bus the whole way today rather than the usually bus-purple line-MRT-BTS combination, and lo and behold, it was faster! At a fraction of the cost! I’m only taking the bus from now on outside rush hour.

And here I am now, one hour away from my “Amazing Service at Reception” training, blogging in a café. I wonder what they’ll train us today. I’m prepared to be amazed.

After the training my friends from school are having dinner to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I haven’t seen them in many months, so that should be nice too.

Today’s set to be a good day!

Time for me to go work on my second short story. It’s called “One Seventy-Two” courtesy of my friend.

Love,

Val

5 May 2017

I was up at 4:30am yesterday. To do – you guessed it (or maybe not) – subtitles work.

My work coordinator wrote me earlier this week to ask if I’m now available to take on assignments, to which I happily replied with an affirmative. So she gave me a project to work on, a Korean variety show which is being aired by Netflix. (I didn’t know Netflix does Korean programmes.)

It’s fun. It’s different. There’s a lot of on-screen text – you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve watched Korean variety shows. And the style of translating is different from the American shows I’ve worked on, though I can’t describe exactly how. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched many more Korean shows with Thai subtitles; that’s why I have a clearer idea how the mood and tone should be for this kind of show.

I woke up at 6am today to continue working on it. 6am is now considered late for me, which I think is a good thing. I’m generally an early bird when my laziness isn’t preventing me from getting up. I feel fresh and work best in the mornings. So by getting up earlier my productivity should go up.

I had my first part-time day at work yesterday. Damn 4 hours is short. I arrived and left before I got bored. Today I’m working the whole 8 hours though so we’ll see how I feel towards the end of the day. I’m not looking forward to doing the full day, though I’m looking forward to picking up my old duties and seeing how much I remember. This Coaching job is primarily about execution. Not much creativity and planning go into it. Bad in some ways, but good for me to work on my recently lacking discipline.

One alarming thing I want to mention though, is that although I woke up at 4:30am yesterday and only left for work around 3:30pm, I managed to get in only 3 hours of subtitles work. Yes, I did have a class to teach, but it was a one-hour class and I only spent one and a half hour preparing for it. Let’s say I spent 30 minutes eating and another 15-30 getting dressed. I would still have had 4 and a half hours, which I managed to spend doing God-knows-what.

I need to be more careful with my time if going part-time (and cutting my salary by more than half) isn’t going to go to waste.

Talking about time, I should get back to my programme now. I was working on it for a little over an hour and wanted to take a break. I figured writing a blog entry is a much more productive use of my time than scrolling through Facebook, so here I am.

Here’s to productivity and Korean shows! *raise invisible glass*

Val

p.s. I had the talk with my boss by the way. It went well. I don’t think he grasped the gravity of the situation from my point of view, but I was straightforward and I think we both gained something from it.

p.p.s. I was teaching in the Speaking Center yesterday and it was great. I hadn’t ‘taught’ so much at work for a long time, and I really did feel that I was making infinitely more impact helping students in the Speaking Center than sitting in my room planning students’ studies and giving advice on how to practice using English. I used to hate being in the Speaking Center but I’m seeing it with new eyes now. I hope I can keep up the enthusiasm as the months roll by.

p.p.p.s. I’m really struggling with my beanbag. I was sitting on it for many many hours yesterday, with the result that I woke up today with an ache in my back. My dad and I had gone to pick out a desk and chair. The problem is though that the desk in the colour that I want (black) was out of stock; they had only white ones which didn’t look nearly as good. We’ve been waiting on the black for over a week (maybe two) now. I have no idea when they’ll be re-stocked but I’m not about to cop out and go for an inferior model. If I’m going to spend 3k on something, it’d better be something I can’t take my eyes off!