Life Lessons Learnt When Sick 12,000 Km Away From Home.

The reason I’ve been so quiet on the blog this week (already falling behind with my 3 post a week schedule – nightmare!) is because I’ve been glued to my sofa for the last 5 days suffering from typhus or typhoid (or possibly a combination of the 2 if that’s possible – not actually sure because of the language barrier but we’ll get to that later).

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I’d been feeling under the weather for about a week before I actually visited the doctor. The language barrier and a slight lack of trust in Asian medicine (too much emphasis on herbs!) make it something that I try to avoid, but needs must and all that!

This week has taught me a few things though…
Lesson #1) Always take a friend to the doctor/hospital/dentist! If they can speak the local language then that’s great, but even if they can’t the moral support is invaluable.
Lesson #2) Be imaginative with your language use. Eg, if you want to say ‘blood’ but don’t know the correct word, try ‘red’, or ‘tired tired tired tired tired’ is a good substitute for ‘exhausted’! Body language and gestures go a long way too!

Fast forward a few days, a crap ton (technical term) of medicine and a blood test in a little hut on the side of the road (it’s a good job I’m not OCD about health and hygiene!) and the diagnosis is in….typhoid. At least I thought that’s what I was told – I’ve since heard typhus.

Lesson #3) Apparently typhoid and typhus are not the same thing.
Lesson #4) Having a vaccination does not necessarily give you 100% protection from these things.

So I’ve spent 6 of the last 7 days glued to my sofa, chain watching American sitcoms and feeling truly sorry for myself. There were a few hours on Wednesday afternoon where if I was well enough to travel I would have 100% have been on a flight back to London.

Lesson #5) It’s important to remember that illness makes your mood plummet and declaring that you’re ‘the most miserable you’ve ever been in your life’ will not help! Must.remain.optimistic!

Having spent a week pumping myself full of antibiotics, herbal remedies, guava and cucumbers (good for typhus, apparently!) I’m finally starting to feel a bit better. It’ll still be another few days before I’m able to go back to work, but thankfully I seem to be on the mend ๐Ÿ™‚

Lesson #6) My friends are actually guardian angels!
Lesson #7) Herbal medicine may be worth something after all!

Brain dump over. Here’s to a speedy recovery….

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14 Thoughts That Run Through A Teacher’s Head When Marking Tests

I spent last night marking 3 sets of progress tests, and I’m pretty sure my trail of thoughts was identical each time.

1) Okay, I’m feeling optimistic! We did lots of revision, and they seemed to understand it during class, so the results should be fine.

2) Listening paper first. Hmm it seems when they said they didn’t want me to play the track again they were actually lying!

3) Maybe it was just her. Fingers crossed it was just her. Oh no, it wasn’t just her ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

4) Maybe the reading paper was better…..

5) Ah this one is right! And the next, and the next! Woohoo, we’re on a roll here – maybe I’m not such a rubbish teacher after all!

6) I wonder what snack I should reward myself with when I finish this paper….

7) You really think that’s the answer?Why would you write that? Seriously?

8) At least the writing paper is about movies – every time I ask the students what they did at the weekend they say ‘played computer games and watched movies, miss’ so surely they can describe their favourite movie?

9) Who knew that there was a Justin Bieber movie?

10) Thank God for discretional marking. I’ll just help them out a little bit with these writing marks, I know what they actually meant to say.

11) No, that’s dishonest, I definitely shouldn’t do that.

12) I hope they’re not too upset when I tell them they have to do some of the paper again ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

13) What do you mean I’ve only marked half of the papers so far? It feels like I’ve been here for hours!

14) I give up. I’ll do it tomorrow. Where’s the gin??!

Coffee Date.

So if we were sat in Starbucks today, what would I have to tell you?

I’d probably start with my weekend. It was a really good one this week. I normally dread my Saturday morning class (not ideal, I know!) but we just haven’t built a good relationship yet despite it being like 6 weeks already, but this lesson actually went really well – I surprised myself! ๐Ÿ™‚ I had a pretty chilled afternoon but had a party to attend in the evening. I recently sought out a hockey team online and on Saturday night they invited me to a party to meet a few people. I took my housemate Emma along for moral support and had such a good time! Everyone made me feel really welcome and I’m excited to go and play at the weekend (now just to source a stick and some kit… Should be interesting considering everyone in this country wears size 6!)

I was nursing a slight hangover on Sunday, but went in to the city to make some batik! It was much more successful this time (read: less blotches where I dropped wax!) and really fun. The whole area is green and quiet (a rarity in Jakarta!) and so relaxing!

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I just finished reading a great book too – Longbourn, by Jo Baker. It’s a different take on Pride and Prejudice, from the servant’s viewpoint, but it’s so much more than fan fiction. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a new read ๐Ÿ™‚

Christmas 2014

If youโ€™ve seen my Facebook or Instagram lately (unfortunately, I am a complete social media addict!) then youโ€™ll know that I spent 10 days in Bali over christmas, but before that letโ€™s back up and Iโ€™ll tell you all about christmas day itself. You can see the photos here, but on the 25th I went to a fancy hotel in the city for lunch with some friends – the spread of food was pretty impressive – it was nice to stock up on western comforts for once, and the wine. So. Much. Wine!

As always, the day passed much faster than weโ€™d have liked, and I was home packing for my early flight the next day before I knew it.

We arrived in Bali early on Boxing Day morning and headed straight for our Kuta hotel. I actually wasnโ€™t very keen on visiting Kuta – Iโ€™ve been before and wasnโ€™t that taken with it (itโ€™s the Bali equivalent of Ibiza or Magaluf…), but my friend Glory wanted to go. We stayed in a nicer than Kuta average hotel with a nice pool (LaWalon Hotel, Jl. Poppies 1) which somewhat softened the blow!

It was a quiet few days of relaxation – super comfy beds, lots of pool time and slowly working my way through a few good books! There were a sufficient amount of sunbathing opportunities, but it actually rained quite a lot, one day even resulting in a flood! Itโ€™s not supposed to flood on holiday!

Why is it that holiday time goes much much much faster than time at work? Before I knew it, our 4 days in this beach town were over and it was time to jump on the shuttle bus to Ubud – a โ€˜hippieโ€™ town in central Bali – known for itโ€™s laid back vibes, rice paddies, monkey forest and vegetarian/vegan/healthy food! Perfect!

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Check back on Friday to read all about my time in Ubud ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great day!

Project 365: December

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12. Batik workshop – 13. Friends – 14. Students – 15. Popping candy chocolate – 16. School staff photo – 17. Dinner at Carl’s Jr – 18. An evening in front of Modern Family – 19. Kidzania – 20. Poster fun! – 21. Backstreet graffiti – 22. Soto Kudus – 23. Housemates – 24. Rock night – 25. Bulgarian goodbyes – 26. Church at Christmas – 27. Double Padang – 28. School Christmas Party – 29. Anne Frank & peppermint tea – 30. Seafood – 31. Rainy season in Jakarta – 32. Mango G&T – 33. Chandler family reunited! – 34. Christmas themed fun with my conversation class ๐Ÿ™‚ – 35. Eddy’s Birthday – 36. Christmas Eve – 37. Christmas Day – 38. Boxing Day – 39. Swimming in Bali – 40. Hard Rock Cafe – 41. Pool Day – 42. Dinner at Club Havana – 43. New Year’s Eve

Coming To A Close.

Woohoo, only one work day left in 2015!

I’ve been embracing the Christmas spirit with my class tonight – telling them all about the traditions that we have at home, and sampling some candy canes!

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We watched Home Alone yesterday, and I’ve been blasting Christmas tunes out in the office today too – I am trying to get in to the festive spirit, but it’s difficult when it’s 30’c outside and I’m still working!

I am looking forward to having lunch with my Indonesian nearest and dearest on the 25th then getting to Bali on Friday. I feel a little guilty that everyone is complaining about not having had a holiday for such a long time – I’ve only been back at work for 4 weeks but am already longing for a rest! Get me to that beach!

This Week.

Well who’d have thought that the times leading up to the holidays could be so busy in a country that doesn’t even celebrate Christmas?!

I don’t remember things being as hectic last year, but I’m sure that that was probably due to me being new to the school and carrying a lot less responsibility!

On Tuesday we held a school Christmas party ๐Ÿ™‚ I spent a long time organising (resolution for next year: stop offering to organise things!) and was really glad it all worked out. We had a ‘Teachers’ Award Ceremony’ (I won the ‘Filing Fanatic’ award for the most organised person in the school – voted for by my colleagues, I didn’t just decide myself!), Secret Santa, a lip syncing competition and lots of pizza!

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In between planning classes and attending meetings, I have been trying to organise my own Christmas holiday. I feel like the Mum of my group of friends – I have somehow ended up arranging lunch at a fancy hotel for us on Christmas Day because otherwise we would have ended up doing nothing! On Boxing Day I am leaving for 10 days in Bali – I know I have only been back at work for a month but I am desperate for a holiday already! Get me to that beach!

Tomorrow we have a big training session at school – there are lots of changes set to happen in the new year and I know there will be a lot of information to take in ๐Ÿ˜ฑ so I better be off to bed! ๐Ÿ’ค

Weekend Snapshots.

It’s been a super busy, but fun, weekend!

After class on Saturday I spent a few hours at school trying to get ahead of myself for the busy weeks before Christmas, before dinner in the evening. We went to a place called Marche to celebrate my friends’ birthdays.

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It was so lovely to have such a big group of friends together – there were a lot of people there that I hadn’t seen since I returned to Jakarta, so lots of opportunities to catch up ๐Ÿ™‚

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IMG_5439.JPG Very sad to be saying goodbye to our newest Bulgarian friend too – safe flight George! ๐Ÿ™‚

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We had a few drinks after dinner (hello mojito!) and I dragged myself away from the party before it got to the nightclub!

I was concerned about getting some sleep as I needed to be up early to go to church and support my friend Glory who was singing in their Christmas service choir.

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It’s an international church, and the service was like none I’ve ever experienced before! There were Christmas carols accompanied by electric guitars, and a metaphor about God’s light that involved us all shining lasers around the room!

Two fun facts about my morning: they had the best Christmas tree I’ve seen in Jakarta, and an African man asked me on a date to Burger King! Haha

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And just like that it’s Monday again! I’ve got some new classes starting this week, and I’m co-hosting our school’s Christmas party on Tuesday. Throw in some holiday planning and you’ve got yourself a busy few days!

Have a great week ๐Ÿ™‚

A Day In The Life.

9.15 – alarm goes off! I’ve been awake for a while but last night was pretty late so I lounge about reading my book for a while.

10.00 – finally haul myself out of bed and go and buy some fruit.

10.08 – breakfast time! Strawberry&melon juice, with fresh mango today.

10.30 – Spring clean! We think there may be a rat living in the courtyard at the back of our house so trying to keep things extra clean ๐Ÿ™‚

11.00 – Listen to ‘Serial’. If you’re not already listening to this podcast – download it now!

11.40 – time to get ready for school. It’s always so difficult to pick clothes on Wednesday because it’s batik day!

12.10 – showered, dressed and ready to rock.

12.23 – arrive at school. It’s super hot today – I’m so glad to be in the ac!

12.30 – chat to friends at school, check my schedule and get books ready for this afternoon.

12.45 – plan plan plan!

1.20 – time to take a break. Shop for Secret Santa present – success!

1.40 – lunch time! Soto kudus today (and most other days if we’re honest!) my favourite!

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2.00 – back to school – I waste a bit more time chatting to friends and doing some organisation for next week’s Christmas party.

2.20 – more planning – we’re making a recipe book in my class this afternoon so I need to get all artistic and make an example!

2.35 – time for a cup of tea.

2.45 – I’m distracted by looking at fun things to do in Bali! I really need to do some holiday planning!

3.05 – okay, time to get serious and finish preparing for today. I also have about a gazillion reports to write. Boohoo ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

3.30 – finally ready – a whole hour before class starts! Time to relax and chat ๐Ÿ™‚

4.05 – re-arrange my classroom. There’s one boy in my class who refuses to move and sit next to anyone, so before every lesson I have to move the chairs out of the room so he has to!

4.10 – reading some blogs ๐Ÿ™‚

4.30 – teach teach teach!

6.00 – break time. My class made such a mess this afternoon that I have to spend a whole clearing up!

6.10 – chat with friends for a while. We’re enjoying some Mars bars I bought back from the UK last month.

6.30 – teach teach teach!

8.00 – class is going slowly….time to crack out a game!

8.30 – finally finished!

8.35 – little bit of admin, tidy my desk up and have the daily argument about what we’re going to eat for dinner.

8.45 – settled on seafood – delicious!

9.30 – time to go home. A bit awkward cos the dress I’m wearing today is a little shorter than cultural acceptable and I’m basically flashing at everyone when I have to sit on the low bus seats. Must remember leggings next time…!

9.50 – I’m exhausted – so glad to be home!

10.00 – Modern Family viewing time – I may or may not be a little addicted!

10.45 – pjs, teeth, time for bed with my book ๐Ÿ™‚

11.25 – lights out – goodnight!

Lacking In inspiration.

To be honest, I’m totally lacking in ideas about things to share with you today, so just a little life update ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m finally back in to the swing of life at school – my planning schedule is pretty hectic as my timetable is full of courses that I’ve never taught before. My favourite group are a conversation class. I was horribly nervous about this – the focus obviously needs to be on the students talking, but I’m always paranoid about spending the whole 2 hours talking at them! My fears were pretty unfounded though – we’ve been having a really good time. Last night, the class was all about small talk. Small talk and chit chat are something that I didn’t realise my life was lacking, until I returned to the UK and was able to talk about silly, everyday things to anybody (my shopping experience here is very different ‘do you need a bag?’ – ‘no thanks’ – ‘okay bye’ – ‘bye’!!) We spent 2 hours pretending we were at fancy parties or business meetings – they assumed characters and everyone was giggling away ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ Iย  was pretty nervous about this lesson beforehand, wasn’t sure if they would understand or appreciate the concept of small talk, but it worked perfectly. I love it when that happens!

On Sunday we went on a school trip to Kidzania, in Central Jakarta. It’s a play centre based around helping children choose a career – they can try out being a doctor, fireman, DJ! (Also, selling petrol, making noodles and answering the phones for a taxi firm!)

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It was a fun, albeit completely exhausting, day out!

I’ve spent most of the day today trying to organise our school Christmas party for next week. My housemate, Emma, and I want to plan an award ceremony – it’s only a bit of fun but we’ve asked every member of staff to vote for different categories (person with the messiest desk, person who consumes the most coffee, office agony aunt etc) – I know it’s going to be great but the organisation is a bit of a nightmare! I also have no idea what to buy for my Secret Santa present! #festiveproblems!

Q&A.

It’s taken me a longer than planned to put this post together, but after spending a while at home catching up with everyone, and popping back to the school where I did my teacher training to meet the current trainees, there are a lot of people asking a lot of the same questions, so here goes – a little lowdown on the finer details of my adventures.

Where did you find your job? I applied for a ton of jobs on tefl.com. It’s very straightforward – you can set up an online profile that easily enables you to submit multiple job applications daily, and schools are also able to contact you directly through the message box. There’s a lot of rubbish on there, but it’s worth sifting through all the adverts, and a good place to get a better idea of what’s out there.

What are the students like? Generally, I love my students. The school that I work in runs a variety of courses –ย  the youngest students are 4 years old, and we also have conversation and business classes for adults. Of course we have some issues, they are people after all, but as a sweeping generalisation, my students are very polite, hardworking and keen to please. You can read some more aboutย  my students in this post about who I taught in my first year in Indonesia.

What are your working hours? Obviously this varies greatly from school to school, but I teach from 4.00-8.30 during the week, and 10.00-1.00 on Saturdays. I normally try to arrive at school by 1.00pmin order to plan….and chat with my co-workers and go out for lunch!!

How did you did somewhere to live?
I’m very lucky and my house is actually provided as part of my contract package. This is not unheard of with EFL jobs. I have my own bedroom with ensuite bathroom, and share a living room and kitchen with housemates.

What do you miss from home?
My friends and family, of course. In addition to this, lots of food – cheese, Jaffa cakes, a good curry! There are easily enough pros to outweigh the cons though!

Have you learnt the language? Do you need to?
The area that I live in is in the outskirts of Jakarta and not many people speak English. I spend all day at work with English speakers so it would be easy I get by speaking very limited Indonesian, but I have been taking lessons and learning (or trying at least!) because I really want to be able to speak to everyone! As long as you can pick up a few lines – numbers, food, basic directions – you’d be fine!

How do you make friends?
Ummm I’m not going to lie – it’s difficult. That being said, I have a wonderful group of friends at school – they’re more like family – and have a really settled life here. I have met other English teachers through friends and work events, and made Indonesian friends in bars and other activities in the city. If you’re will in to put yourself out there, you will easily make friends!

I hope this has answered some questions….although it is a massive step and I’m not planning to stay here forever, moving to Jakarta really is one of the best things I’ve ever done. All the worries that I had before I came about not making friends or being able to speak the language were completely unfounded, and to everyone that says ‘oh I wish I could do what you’re doing’…..YOU CAN!

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Project 365: November

To start with, it was really difficult to remember to always take a photo, but I’m starting to get in to the routine now…

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1. Leaving LHR – 2. On the plane – 3. Meeting baby Jack – 4. Roma’s Wedding – 5. Holiday planning – 6. Fresh mango – 7. National Teacher’s Day – 8. Birthday Eve – 9. Etam’s birthday dinner – 10. Homemade crumble – 11. Jakarta Blues Festival.

Strange Happenings.

Some weird things have been happening lately.

I should preface this post by telling you that everyone in Indonesia is obsessed, and I mean totally crazy about, ghosts and urban legends. They believe 100%, and everyone has their very own ‘sighting’ story to tell!

Anyway, I digress! Last week my housemate Emma put a flower in a tiny bottle of water next to her bed then we left for the day at school. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened, but when we got home that evening, the rose was laid out on her pillow yet the water hadn’t been disturbed.

Spooky hey?

We thought it was a little odd but forgot all about it until a few days later when I left some mango on the table and when I returned, it was outside my bedroom door at least a metre away.

Now this time it really freaked me out – I know deep down there must be a logical explanation (on both occasions, nobody else had been in the house) but how did these things move on their own?

The next day I was speaking to some Indonesian school friends about it and they told me this: Legend has it that ghosts live in trees, and when a tree is cut down the ghost or demon can escape and move in to the closest house. Well, while I was away in the UK, the papaya tree was cut down in our front garden!

Does this explain these strange happenings? Probably not, but what a coincidence! I would have never even considered the idea of the house being haunted in the UK – isn’t it funny the effect that a culture can have on your beliefs!