Finding the time…

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Time1I must be honest; I’ve found it difficult to get the time to do anymore TEFL this week. Thursday and Friday were taken up doing household jobs, voluntary work and I had University meetings about writing a dissertation proposal. Today it was a rare sunny day in Glasgow so I took advantage and went out walking with my little girl and we enjoyed a bit of Asian food for lunch. By the time we got home (walking is a leisurely affair with a 19 month old toddler) she was knackered and so was I!

Anyway, I have a confession – I could have been doing things in the evening but my favourite guilty pleasure was on TV all this week… Britain’s got Talent semi-finals! I know, I know, I think people either love it or hate it but I really do love it. When you read so much negative crap in the papers about the kids of today and just people in general, I find it so heart warming to watch how hard some young kids are working towards achieving a goal. Even the ones that aren’t that great I still find it inspirational that so many people are out there working away towards achieving something they want.

So I really need to get back working towards mine I guess!

I have been doing some stuff towards my theory test this week, there are online practice revision tests and mock tests that you can do for free. I took the mock test having done no revision at all and got 41 out of 50. The pass mark is 48 I think, so I’m pretty positive that if I do plenty of revision I’ll be able to pass it in about a month…. So watch this space!

My plan is to do some TEFL tomorrow night as there’s no BGT on the telly and then I’ll really step up a gear next week and try and do at least 2 hours a day. It’s early days but I’d really like to have this done by the start of August I think. Then I need to spend August getting a proper head start on my dissertation so I can go back to Uni feeling relaxed instead of frazzled within about 2 days of going back. That’s the plan Batman…

As always, thanks for reading!!

Do yourself a favor and buy that damn plane ticket already.

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backpacksandbabygrows:

This really resonated with me today – it sums up, so very eloquently a lot of my thoughts. Particularly the bit about thinking up all the reasons you can’t do something….

Originally posted on infinite satori:

“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.  I spent a large part of my youth traveling the world as a hippie. And what money did I have then? None. I barely had enough to pay for my fare. But I still consider those to have been the best years of my youth.The great lessons I learned has been precisely those that my journeys had taught me.”

-Paulo Coelho

I know you. You look through countless of travel blogs, browse through the travel section of the bookstore, read Lonely Planet guidebooks, and National Geographic magazines. You’re in love with city maps, atlases, and globes. You get shivers down your spine when you run your fingers down the tiny blood veins on a map as if it was breathing and coming alive. And it says to you, “Buy a god damn ticket and explore me.” But you don’t, because you…

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Pedants need not apply!

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pedantic

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and musing the last few days about my plans and the things that I want for my daughter and myself. I’m one of those people who gets completely motivated and excited about something straight away. My mind starts firing off in all directions and I just run with it. I’ll start researching all the little steps I need to make and how I can make them and then I’ll start trying to solve all the little hurdles that are arising. Now this can be in the 1st hour of getting an idea, and already I’m trying to solve hypothetical problems. Then I find I can’t solve the hypothetical problems and I kind of crash psychologically and get all demotivated. COMPLETELY forgetting these are my own imagined hypothetical problems!

I guess what I’m saying is, I’m learning really fast that I’m just going to have to let this bit of my personality go somehow. I think if my friends were to describe me then the words ‘organised’ and ‘pedantic’ would come in there pretty fast. Now being organised has some huge advantages but when it comes to making these big decisions, pedants really need not apply. I mean, I’ve found myself worrying about problems I might face to do with my daughters schooling when she would be high school age (she’s 19 months old!), I’ve been worrying about whether she, as an individual will mind travelling or living a slightly location-less life. Again, these are just massive hypotheticals, I can never know the answers to these worries until I’m actually dealing with them. But I end up letting it demotivate me because that pedantic side of my personality is demanding answers and it wants them now!

I forget that if I’d thought about every tiny step I was going to have to take to achieve any of the things I’ve done then I probably would never have done anything – for that matter nobody would get out of bed! If I’d thought about all the stuff I would have to do and all the problems I would face when doing a degree or having a baby or moving to Scotland or when i moved to London I probably would have cried and then curled up into a hedgehog ball for the next week so…

I’m thinking I need to start chanting out some clichéd mantras – you know the ones… I need to take a leap of faith, cross that bridge when I come to it, yadda yadda. But these really do apply, I don’t think doing this is possible without just jumping feet/head first into the unknown, safe in the knowledge I can always come back if it doesn’t work. But worrying about whether my daughter will take GCSE’s or do the International Baccalaureate is proper crazy time! I’ve been panicking about disadvantaging her, I can home school her through the primary years or most of them I’m confident of that; but I’ve been worrying about creating someone who has no qualifications at all and how this would affect her depending on her own life choices later.

I’m not saying these aren’t valid things I should be thinking about, I’m just realising that these decisions are possibly 10 years away and I need to calm the fuck down!!! :)

 

 

A productive start….

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give way

Well today has been an exciting day! I’ve had my 1st driving lesson and I opened up TEFL online and completed the section on nouns – clearly it was those nouns that really got the adrenalin pumping :)

A bit of background might be good (again) … As may be clear by now, I’m trying to best qualify myself to live and work abroad. I think at the moment my opinion is that the best way to do this is to become a bit of a Jack of all trades so I’m going to build up a CV that will allow me to do anything and everything whilst travelling as a single parent. Of course the biggest tool in any workers box when travelling would arguably be a qualification to teach English as a foreign language so… I decided to do the TEFL this summer because I looked into CELTA (the Cambridge qualification for teaching English as a foreign language) and I’d missed the deadline to do it at the University this summer. However, as I looked at various forums and whatnot online to see what the difference is academically (CELTA is significantly more expensive that TEFL for starters); I was reading quite a few things saying that CELTA is really tough in terms of the teaching and the grammar knowledge you’re expected to learn. So I thought it might be a good idea to give myself an introduction to the grammar side of things and get a lot of lesson planning advice via TEFL first. There’s also the handy fact that on completion TEFL gives help on tailored CV’s and there’s also their jobs section that you get lifelong access to. But I can’t deny that by the sounds of it CELTA really is the more prestigious certificate to get. They give you 150 hours face to face teaching and you get actual experience everyday in the classroom teaching a group for small periods. I also figured that getting it from the University will look better on paper too; unfortunately over life you quickly realise that keeping up appearances has more weight that it should. I don’t like it, but sometimes it’s prudent just to play the game!

I’m doing the 120 hour TEFL course because there wasn’t that much difference in the price – It should be £269 but as a student you get 20% off so it’s £215 – also it’s worth noting that you get that discount up to a year after graduation. I reckon TEFL will be great for just familiarising myself with the grammar and structure of language so I don’t feel like I’m thrown in at the deep-end when I apply to CELTA. That being said it is a stand-alone qualification as well so it really can’t do any harm – that’s been my thinking anyway. It felt worthwhile to dip into the savings for.

So… on to my 1st experience of TEFL:

I’ve discovered there are a few gaps in the teaching of the noun section in comparison to what is asked on the test; so it really did require me to think outside of the box. For example it really wasn’t clear to me whether day, night, days, hours and words along these lines were abstract or concrete nouns even after going through the lesson and watching the little video tutorial (on a side note – hilariously weird voice-over on the video!). Anyway, I did some investigations online and ‘concrete’ seemed to be the view although my instinct was ‘abstract’ I put concrete and got it wrong.

Lesson 1: don’t trust Google too much.

Lesson 2: trust my instinct a little more!

Despite this I still got 91% on the test so I’m pleased with how today went.

Driving was great fun though. It was nerve racking to start off. I think I’m going to make my instructor demented by apologising for every tiny mistake. Hopefully she’ll learn that this is an unfortunate side effect of my upbringing and I may struggle to swallow the ‘sorrys’. I should also work on this though; I’m one of those people who constantly apologises for apologising!

I had about 11 driving lessons a few years ago and I thought I’d forgotten it all but quite a bit just kicked in naturally so she let me drive for the full 90 minute lesson and said I should be proud of how it went. It’ll be same time next week now and I really need to boot myself up the bum to start revising for my theory test. I’ve set myself the limit of 4 weeks to sit it; once that’s done I’ll push up to two 90 minute lessons a week to try and get the driving test done by September. I want to go back to Uni with two new qualifications under my belt (driving and TEFL) as I think it’ll be such a nice little boost to the ego before entering the final year of my degree.

Today has definitely felt productive. I always find that once the first few steps are made I find my motivation just keeps coming. I can procrastinate with the best of them sometimes (that washing up looks so damn attractive when there’s academic work to be done); but once I’ve sat down and started I hit a flow pretty quickly. Tomorrow I’m going to start the online revision tool for my theory test and maybe tonight I’ll start reading the TEFL section on verbs – it’s a lot bigger than the noun section unsurprisingly so it’ll take a couple of sessions to read through that I think.

As always, thanks for reading!

And so it begins…

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I’m one of those people who has thought of starting a blog but has had a multitude of reasons as to why it was never a good time. I’ve felt horribly self-conscious about blogging in the same way I did about keeping a diary. It feels so public to finally put such private thoughts into print and even more so to then publish it. I always cringe at the thought people will laugh at the ridiculousness of what goes on in my head. However, now I’ve taken the plunge I should probably start somewhere near the beginning if nothing else.

18 months ago I had a baby – nothing new there I know – but there’s probably nothing new in anything I’m about to say. I was halfway through a philosophy degree in Scotland so needless to say it wasn’t exactly planned. I’m now a single parent to a baby girl; I took a year out from my degree and went back last September. I’ve just finished all my 3rd year exams and now have one final year to go before I have to face the real world. I came to university later than most for various reasons – I may chat about those a later date, I may not. But suffice to say, it’s taken me a while to find my adult feet and I’m not sure I’m quite there yet. I’m pretty much just winging it to be fair.

I’ve always had the travel bug. I’ve managed to get to a few places for holidays but never quite had the means to really do the full on gap year or backpacking type stuff. I’ve been to Australia, Egypt, Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Amsterdam, Sweden and a few others. Enough places to know I’m at my happiest and best when away, seeing the world. I’ve always had an aim to learn another language fluently and I have a desperate love affair with Japan and Japanese culture although I’ve not yet been. I know that if I get to my metaphorical deathbed and I’ve not substantially travelled and lived and worked abroad it will be a massive regret for me. So knowing this in advance means it would be an even bigger regret if I allowed it to happen. I actually had a 3 week holiday to China booked when I became pregnant and I had to cancel due to the departure date being at the end of my pregnancy.

So, with all this in mind I’ve struggled back and forth in my head with balancing my hopes and dreams for myself with becoming a single parent. A lot of my thoughts are undoubtedly irrational and not based in fact; but there is no escaping from the fact there is a societal pressure and stigma attached to my circumstances that is hard to shake off. There is also a similar societal pressure just attached to parenting – I spend an enormous amount of time and energy worrying about parenting. Whether I’m doing it right, whether my child will be a delinquent, whether it’s right or wrong to put my own life needs 1st occasionally, whether I can avoid the sometimes grave mistakes of my parents and so on. And if you even dare to peek at the enormous deluge of information on the Internet it’s enough to cause an immediate panic attack. EVERYONE and I mean everyone (!) has an opinion on how everyone else should parent. So far despite the gnawing (and I assume normal) worries that pervade my thoughts at night or when left to my own devices, I still feel I should be proud of how I’ve navigated this minefield (often a self-inflicted minefield I know). My child is happy and confident and apparently, so far, emotionally stable. I’ve got the hang of all the stuff I’m supposed to without having a nervous breakdown; I’ve gone back to university and completed 6 essays and 6 exams and I’ve managed to not fail anything. The results aren’t out but I expect to achieve fairly highly.

So what the hell is my problem?

I guess I’ve spent the last 18 months convincing myself I must have the life I think I should have rather than the life I want. I’ve veered back and forth between telling myself I need to follow my dreams to soundly convincing myself that as a single parent I need to get a ‘normal’ job and just follow a ‘normal’ path – put aside savings, get a house, get a pension, blah blah blah you get the picture. Now, I have never been the kind of person to settle into ‘normal’ jobs well. I don’t survive long. I’m disagreeable and become demotivated easily if I don’t have a positive experience. This is why I came back to university to finish my education, the plan was to go the post grad route and try and succeed in Academia. The problem now is that there is very little funding for Masters degrees and the reality of childcare costs, mean that the post grad route looks incredibly unlikely financially. I won’t go off on a rant about that just now but safe to say I’ve investigated a lot of options and childcare costs is the biggest hurdle on top of the years living costs and the £6000+ needed for the Masters course. So…. I’ve ended up looking at other options. Graduate schemes for the civil service, NHS management, graduate schemes in the non-profit sector. The whole time I’ve been pushing all the doubts to the back of my mind about whether these things would actually be suitable for me, whether I’d love or even like my job, whether I could sustain these positions in any way in order to build a promising career. I’ve also been desperately searching for jobs that could allow me to work term time hours for a few years so I can care for and lets face it, see my child for the duration of some of the holidays. But like I said, I’ve just been ignoring the fact that I don’t think any of these jobs would make me happy or would even play to my strengths.

I’ve not had a ‘normal’ life up to now – again I won’t elaborate just now but I really haven’t. I had a disruptive unusual childhood and very disruptive teenage years. My twenties were spent getting to grips with and coming to terms with this fact. I left a very good school early with no qualifications and was flung unceremoniously into a life I struggled to cope with. It’s taken me until I went to Uni to really have a handle on who I am, what I’m doing and the fact it’s my life and it’s me who is responsible for the choices I make and the direction I go. So when I say that a ‘normal’ job path isn’t really what I expected to do I honestly mean that it’s like shoving a square peg into a round hole!

I’ve been telling myself all the things you tell yourself as a parent – that sacrifices have to be made, I can’t just go off and travel the world (I’m not a secret millionaire with endless funds sat about). I play that horrible game where I tell myself I’d be completely selfish, it’s my needs I’m thinking about not my daughters. I need to give her stability and good schooling in a good area and a stable home. All those things the Daily Mail screeches at you via obnoxious headlines designed purely to create a moral panic every other day of the week. As a single parent I’m also one of the Daily Mails favourite moral panics and it’s hard not to eventually absorb some of that vitriol spewed out in my direction.

But another part of me is desperate to show my daughter what strong, intelligent and confident women are capable of. I truly believe a 1st hand global experience would be of immeasurable worth during a childhood, especially in this day and age. To step out of the box that is education (no matter how good that education is) and experience the world and really see what you normally only learn about via books has got to be one of the best experiences you can give your child surely? And I know that if I was part of a 2 parent family I wouldn’t even hesitate at taking or making those opportunities. The problem is, the minute I start to research or look online at the realities of doing this or even to think about what I have to do to achieve this I’m just engulfed by either waves and waves of negative comments from forum users or worries from friends and family or I reach big hurdles on a practical level and it whisks away the idealistic hopes I have so fast it leaves me cold. But that little voice remains, whispering at me telling me “why can’t you do it? What’s really stopping you? If you want something bad enough you’ll make it work”. And over time that voice gets louder until I suddenly tell myself I can do it, so I start searching on the internet and the whole stupid process starts all over again.

So, what’s changed? Where I am now? Why I am telling you all this?

After a long conversation with a positive friend I’m back at the beginning – the positive beginning – I’m entering my final year of Uni this September and facing up to the fact that this time next year I will be staring Life full on in the face, eye ball to eye ball so to speak and I need to decide. I don’t know if what I want can be done but I’ve stopped searching online and asking the question and instead, I’m just going to do it, or I’m going to try and do it. That is what this blog will be about. This is my 1st step on the journey to living, working, travelling, doing anything abroad with my child as a single parent. I’m plunging headfirst – I know it will be difficult. In 24 hours I’ve ranged through every emotion, I’ve gone from totally pumped and excited to completely demotivated and convinced I can’t do it or shouldn’t do it.

There are still worries that I have. I do want the best for my child. I don’t want my decisions to impact on her negatively in any way whatsoever. I want this to be our experience. I want to know that she is having the childhood that will develop her into the amazing person I know she can be and that it is doing what a ‘normal’ education couldn’t do. If at any point I feel this isn’t happening I’m also willing to come back and give her whatever it is she needs. But I can’t live a life saying ‘what if’. I need to try. So this blog will be all about that journey; I hope to provide a source or information and maybe even inspiration to other single parents who feel bowed under the societal pressures and stigmas (real or imagined). I hope to be a source of information on the routes that can be taken to achieving that dream, no doubt there will be options I don’t take that would still enable someone to live and work abroad with a child but here I will log how I try to do it. I also hope to be able to provide any information to help others who follow in my path, practical information on surviving in other countries with a child – but for this, only time will tell as it will be at least 18 months until I’m on the road so to speak. One thing I’ve learnt from the internet is that there are a lot of single parents (mostly mums) asking the questions, there’s a lot of response in the negative from people who aren’t single parents and who haven’t done it (so just opinions) and there’s not much else. I hope to be that something else – I want to be a roar (not a whisper) in the sea of negativity, a roar of encouragement, to tell people to try. If it doesn’t work then that’s OK, at least I can say I tried.

This is the base line – you’re up to date (sort of) in my life and my other posts will hopefully be a bit more bitesize than this!

So… where I am I up to today? I’m trying best to qualify myself to live and work abroad so I will of course finish my degree to the best of my ability. But this summer I am learning to drive as I’ve not yet done this and I have also enrolled on an online 120 hour TEFL course with a view to doing the more difficult and more prestigious CELTA course next summer at the Uni too. In fact I shall leave this mammoth 1st blog post here and my next one will be about those decisions and how I find my 1st day at home doing the TEFl course.

Bye for now and thanks for reading!