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Category Archives: Learning Czech

Things 7 through12 of 2012

I’ve been thinking long and hard about what things really changed me or helped me or stopped me.  Here is the 2nd set of 6 of 12 things I learned in 2012.

7. Language may change, culture may change, style may change, but wherever you are humans really don’t.

Babies still cry when they want something, toddlers still want toys, school children still hate homework, teenagers still rebel to create their own space, new grown ups still walk the line between wanting to be a kid and dealing with the realities of adulthood, and old grown up still look at the youth with longing, pity, and hope.   Humanity remains no matter the location.

8. I had to begin accepting myself for who I am and that began with remembering that I am not set in stone but what has been carved so far cannot be changed.

Who I Was has great influence over Who I Am but almost none over Who I Become unless Who I Am chooses that to be so.  By accepting Who I Am, with all of my flaws and fabulousness, I have the power to choose what I do, what I learn, and Who I Become.  I choose happiness, I choose the light over the dark, I choose positivity and I choose to try and remember all that I have suppressed.

Those things, those parts of my life that I put into little boxes and have been storing on little shelves in my brain vault, are still influencing my life. I can only choose how they affect me if I can look at them out in the daylight.  I am strong enough, I have enough tools to bring my hidden boxes out of hiding and see what’s inside them.  Who I Become will be a force to be reckoned with.

9.  In order to find my own voice I have begun learning how to be silent.

I’m still learning how effective silence can be, but I have begun to understand that “being in the moment” is a quiet mental process not a need to “make the most of every second like it’s the last second”.

I have goals and plans and desires, but I keep getting in my own way by cluttering the path with mental noise and emotional crack.  I am learning how to create silence inside.  Thank you 2012 for giving me that awareness.

10. Learning a language is fracking tough.

But each time I try it gets a little easier.  Each new set of sounds and meanings make learning the next set a little easier.  The human mind is an amazing thing.

11. Parenting doesn’t ever get easier. 

I don’t know how to do it all right I suppose, but I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job.  I would consider myself a very good parent.  I still screw stuff  up on a regular basis though. I don’t say the right thing, or react the right way.  I ask them to be too grown up, ask them to let me leave.

They’re adults now, and yet still they need me to be mom.  I am here in Taiwan, and it is not easy for them to be without mom.

They will grow and this will stretch them, they will have the chance to be better than ever, every day.  Though this was the right choice, it is hard to be away.  It’s not any easier to let go than it is to hold on.

12.  I am too easily swayed from myself.

This is my biggest, most obvious truth I’ve learned.  I stray from my true self.  I forget to keep watch of where I am at while looking back or at where I want to go.  I’ve heard that you have to be where you are, don’t look back, don’t look ahead.  I don’t believe that.  I think I need to try to keep all 3 places in view.

When I dream, the movements I make are those I am physically able to make when I am awake.  Even when I fly or swim in my dreams I picture myself in movements that I have experienced.  I’ve jumped on a trampoline, I know what it feels like to fly for just a second.  So my brain takes that feeling and extends it indefinitely while I am sleeping. But I can imagine it because I’ve experienced the sensation.

Whenever I try to imagine looking at my past, my present, and my possible futures, I keep finding myself feeling stuck because I picture looking in mirrors or turning my head or some other way of looking at separate things.  This year I began realizing that I need to “see” that all three are one and the same.

I stray from myself because I get caught up at looking at one or the other, the past, the present, the future.  I step out of me almost as I try to figure out how to knot them together.  But they are already together, my problem is that I keep separating them.

I am swayed by others because I give too much control of my here and now to them as I try to figure out my past and future.  I forget to listen to my own voice.  Sometimes I choose not to listen to my own voice because I am scared that I will be the one responsible for the mistakes that could happen.  But, I am still responsible for those mistakes and also for the burden I put on someone else to make the decision for me.

In 2013, I will strive to be true to myself, to look at myself as an ongoing creation that is who it is and has only greatness to look forward to.

I challenge each of you to do the same.

 

 

Going forward requires a look back

I am now part of the Blog Expat community.  I decided to go back and look at some of my past blogs to see what the whole world may read rather than just my family and friends.  I found some funny stuff, some favorite posts, and did some reminiscing.

The first sentence in my first blog post clearly demonstrates how little I knew about what I was beginning.

Jan ’09  This is the beginning, as of today I am fully monolingual, by the end of the year I will be bilingual.

I’ve learned so much and so little since then!   I am NOT bilingual in anything.  I haven’t even gotten to a point of knowing enough of the Spanish, Czech, or Mandarin that I have needed to use, to actually communicate a thought with anyone.   I can repeat phrases, but I am afraid that if I say “Ni how ma?” to someone here, they will expect me to know more and start trying to have a conversation in which I will be able to answer with only the other phrases I know, “I’m full”, or “I’m hungry”.

I have a long way to go.

Or there’s this little tidbit

24Jan’09   It’s getting easier.  So there I am, listening to “Exercises on minimal stress contrast” or something, when I pick up my son from school.  -Now, here I should mention that my CD player is permanently stuck in random mode.  For the life of me I cannot listen to any CD from track 1 to track 2 to track 3 and so on.  I get track 7, then track 43, then track 2, then track 14.  This is *slightly* frustrating.   Enter my son, the CD is saying pronunciation drills in complete sentences.  (these are the drills I especially get stuck on because I haven’t learned all the tracks up to this point, at this point we’re on like track 42 and I just finished my third round of track 6 because random sometimes mean repeat)

Remember that I do not have any written words, I’m in my car, I don’t know  these words yet, and I hear,(I don’t know how to put the accents in, sorry) “Donde esta la Embajada Americana, ahi a la izquierda, perdon come dice usted, deme la pluma”  Right now I can write what I was hearing then because I have the book in front of me and I can look it up, but I didn’t then and each sentence rolled together like one long word.

I need to give tremendous kudos to the instruction I received at TEFL Worldwide Prague.  With the actual grammar I learned during this class, (not what I thought was grammar before this class), I have had a much easier time understanding how to begin learning Mandarin while I am here in Taiwan.  I am not sure if I’ll take actual classes, but I have been able to learn more Mandarin in my almost 2 weeks here, than I learned of Czech in my month in Prague.  I honestly wish I could go take the class again.  I would be able to concentrate more completely on the how.  And, I miss the beauty of that city.  Taiwan has it’s own beauty, but Prague’s beauty is unmatchable.

I will always like my Are Mommies Super Heroes? post.  Try to hear the words in your mind as you read it….

27May’11  No Spanish for 2 weeks now, but it has been nice to have sporadic Spanish conversations with David and Thane at home.  Granted they are the kind of conversations that the average 2-year-old Puerto Rican would feel was childish, but still… we are trying to use it and that counts.   The other day my phone battery died and I said, “ahhh mi celular es muerto” ( which I’m not sure is exactly correct), and David says, “like battery dead or like no es bueno?”  to which I replied, “umm, either way, no es bueno….  but, just the battery”.

Of course some of my very favorite favorite posts are those dedicated to teaching Les Miserables to my 8th grade ESL class during my last semester of student teaching.

14Apr’12      22Apr’12       01May’12        24May’12         10Jun’12

And then a few others:

24Aug’12  Is an incomplete list of the many things I’ve been taught by friends.

19Sept’12  My life as an expat is beginning

01Nov’12  Day two of being in Taiwan.

Let me know what your favorites are 🙂

 

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Hurtling through space

So here I sit, asking myself what a good word for this flying business is.  Immediately, I find myself mentioning to myself that I am doing the word right now, in the present.  It is something that I began doing at a time in the past; it has duration of time that includes the current moment and will continue into a definite time in the future.  Therefore, I must use the Present Perfect Continuous form in order to say what it is that I am doing.  It’s a word that is more complete than just flying because the amount of tossing about that is happening to everything insists on it.  It’s a word in English that has a certain cavalier-ness with the speed.  A word that includes the audacity that we can fly this many people, all our stuff, a decent meal, a lot of alcohol, continuously toss about, and watch movies at the same time.

And so I will say that – I have been writing as I have been hurtling through space.

I am on my way back to New Mexico for a short while.  I am headed to China after that.  The Chinese Embassy is located in LA and I have to get all my paperwork there for my Visa.  I could mail it and wait for it to get mailed back….. or?…….. (Hint* anyone in LA that can put me up for a few days?)

One year in China.  I am excited and scared for this new opportunity.  I am trying to absorb the reality that this is all really happening.  I’ve worked so hard for all of this to start coming together and actually happen.

It seems today that all the world is covered in clouds.  Each time I open the little window, all I see is cloud cover, no ground.  The little computer screen in front of me tells me that we’re over Nova Scotia right now.  I’ve been flying since “noon” and it’s now around “4:30”.  Only 4 and a half more hours to go…….  I quote my times because it’s all relative to location and well, plane location is in constant flux.

I feel regretful that I was so unable to communicate with friends and family while taking this course, but please be understanding with me.  It was actually a tough month.  That was Not a learning vacation in any sense.  When they say it is challenging and intense, they are not kidding.

Good, worth it, but also challenging and intense.  Truly, learn your grammar before arriving.  The staff is incredibly helpful and there for the students.  That made so much bearable.  The accommodations were one way to get to really be part of Czech life.  96 stairs 3-7 times a day, how will I ever stay in shape without stairs?

 

Unlearning and Birthday loveliness

Birthday Adventures

Last week I tried to book myself a hotel for my birthday night.  I learned seven good lessons.

One: Try to have someone that speaks the language help, it will save some frustrating hours.

Two: Don’t ever agree to pay up front without the full agreement understood first.

Three: Don’t ever mix up your Korunas with your Euros.  $1400 CZK= ~$75.  1400 Euros =~$1780.  Significant difference.

Four:  Birthdays are wonderful when spent in a new country, with new friends, new foods, good beer, great atmosphere.  A hotel room is not necessary.

Five: Nobody gets off free for their birthday.  Apparently, the one lesson in which I actually had a student leave and then come back and tell me they really enjoyed class, was the most unsuccessful of the lot according to my instructor.  Never take a good day for granted.

Six: A birthday cake muffin is pretty damn special when it’s brought in at the beginning of class with candles and everything!  Having a group of new friends sing Happy Birthday can make me cry. Thank you Christine, for starting my day out fantastically.

Seven: Andell Restaurant is my favorite.  Thanks to Katie, Daniel, Rachel, Liz, and Aidan for ending the evening with me there.

All in all my 40th birthday a resounding success.

Je to hotové – It is finished

The last day was yesterday.  What a crazy, ambitious, ridiculous, learning curve that was.  Cheryl said I survived just as we all do.  I suppose.  I would rather have done better than mere survival, but I can say I successfully survived.  How do I feel about my TEFL license?  Damn I earned that.  I had to work hard to stay on top of it.
My belief is that I will be able to better understand what I was just taught as time goes on.  It will be an accumulative understanding.  Was I the best student? No.  Was I the worst student? Not even, but I could have done better.

Notes on unlearning – an education rant

Why as Education students are we taught semester after semester of theory without being given practical knowledge of how to use all that theory.  Sure, I can write a paper about all the ways and reasons that having a student-centered classroom is the way to go, but seriously, we are NOT taught how to do it.  I have no capacity to explain just how much practical, actual, student-centered learning I just witnessed.

I have had to figure out (phrasal verb) how on earth to unlearn everything I’ve learned about how I thought I was supposed to run a classroom.  I did a damn good job before, but now I know even better ways.  Group work, pair work, these terms have hugely different meanings to me than they did just 2 months ago, yet, completely the same.  I now have an actual example of how to do what we talked about should be done.

Tip 2.5 for future TEFL students:  Read the “suggested readings”.  You WILL need to know the stuff and it is not easy to learn what you are teaching the day before you have to teach it, week after week.  Sure, you’ll get by without having read them, but it will be exponentially more difficult.  Get to know your grammar so that you can focus on the teaching method in class.  I was rarely able to focus on absorbing how the teacher taught us (which is why we’re here, to learn how) because I was too busy trying to learn all the grammar.  I would rather have been able to focus on the how more.

Side (pity party) Note for ALL students, not just TEFL students:  If there is a College survival/ note taking class offered at your campus, Take It.  I wish I had any ability to take notes that I could get actual information from.  I bought my recording pen because I have no idea how to take notes really.  Although I did start a timeline style that worked pretty well for notating how the instruction was taking place…

My pen ran out of memory and I was screwed from that point on.  Another gal (my TEFL Hermione) had these amazing notes that she color coded and wrote perfectly and beautifully as class was happening.  That shit comes from being taught how.  Take The Classwhatever it’s called – It is worth it.

Side side note, the Echo Smartpen from Livescribe has saved my educational life on many occasions.  It is worth every penny.

 

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Week 3, Day 3

It was inconceivable for me to have foreseen how this was all going to go down.  I had envisioned going to class during the day and sightseeing at night.  The only sight seeing I’ve done was the first few days before class started.  There’s no more time.  When they say intense and challenging, they are not joking around.  This week I had to turn in lesson plans, start writing up my One-to-One paper, I’m still looking for a job, and still fighting off the migraine that put me down last week.

Suggestion number 1 for anyone looking to take this course:  Arrive about 5 days before the class starts.  Go get the sight seeing done beforehand so that The City is not calling out to you with all of its unseen beauty.

Prague is amazingly beautiful.  Even the poorer parts have amazing architecture, rolling green hills, and flowers everywhere.  If I hadn’t had those few days before all this began, I’d be even more distracted than I am right now.  Go see Prague first, get in there and be part of it.

Walk, see, eat, do, live Prague before beginning the process of learning grammar, writing lesson plans, and trying to find a job/ place to live/ work out resume details, etc.

Distractions

Family stuff is tricky.  Throw it into the mix of being in a new country by myself, not knowing the language, not having a phone for communicating basic needs, no clothes dryer or shower, not sleeping, not having a job yet, having to learn what I’m about to teach as I learn how to teach it at the same time, and you have a mixture for hopeless distractability.  I am the epitome of distractable; and, consequently, a complete nuisance in class.

I am seriously making this much harder on myself than it really is.

Yes, me, super student, is sitting with the class goofs at the back table and pulling my fair share of ridiculousness.  I’m honestly astounded at what a frustrating student I must be right now to my instructors.  I’m not sure I’d like to have me in class.  I’m so overwhelmed that I can’t contain the inner goofball.  I will certainly have a better perspective for future dingbat students and their antics.   It is a release from the amazing amount of knowledge that I have to learn right now coupled with the many outside influences I am dealing with.

Now, you might ask, is the school really that hard??

I would have to answer that it’s a split decision.   It’s a tough course, but it is made more difficult by the fact that as native English speakers we are not taught the grammar of our language.  If I did have a better working knowledge of English grammar (not writing skills, actual grammar) this would not be nearly as difficult as I am finding it.

WAAIT A MINUTE – YOU are a Language Arts teacher, an ENGLISH teacher.  Of course you taught grammar.

What we teach as English Grammar is NOT all that we should be.  Truly, how many of you out there, who are not TEFL teachers, know what Past Perfect Continuous even means?  The trick is though, that if we did, learning another language wouldn’t be so difficult.  Teaching writing wouldn’t be so difficult.

Tip 2 for anyone wanting to take this course?  Study up on actual grammar.  Where you put a comma will not even be discussed.  It is a real course, it is not light, but it will be made much easier if you already know the grammar you will be learning how to teach.

I’m off to bed folks.

 

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2 weeks and 2 days in

You know that saying

A picture is worth a thousand words.

If you think of a moment in time as a picture, it’s amazing how much that moment can say.

For example.

I was walking across the street, to the hurried clicking of the crosswalk timer, as a bus was making it’s own hurried way toward the intersection.  I happened to glance up and see the bus drivers face as I hastily stepped my back foot onto the sidewalk at the precise moment when both the light turned green and the bus went through the intersection.  One look.  One moment.  One very clear message.

“I knew the light was going to be green when I arrived at it.  I have a schedule to keep.  I run a tight schedule.  I’m not going to slow down because you didn’t get to the cross walk in time.  I don’t care if I run you over, you’re obviously a foreigner and you should have travel insurance.  If you don’t, that’s your own damn fault.  You can’t hurt my bus, and I don’t care if I flatten you.  Good-bye.”

Note to self:  Always walk across the street at a brisk pace.

Things I was not expecting about the Czech Republic?

  • Sit down showers with no shower curtain.
  • Beds that are only 5’5” long.
  • Comforters that are only 4’5” long.
  • Every door is key-locked both to get into and to get out of.
  • No such thing as a clothes dryer.

 

  • Buying dried herbs in single use pouches.
  • Buying baking soda in single use pouches.
  • Women pushing babies in strollers, people carrying their groceries,  dogs, all going down the metro escalator at a mere 30 degree incline, up to 8000 m long, and some of the fastest in Europe.
  • A (for real) lack of public smiling.

Seriously the children don’t even smile when walking around.  I am sure that somewhere the smile exists in Czech Republic, but I have yet to see one that is not attached to a non-native.  I refuse to have the smile taken out of me, but I’m getting way better at walking down the street with a “I’ma F you up” look.  Amazingly I am not even noticed if I walk around like that, but the minute I crack a slight version of what might be considered a smile, everyone has an opinion.  It’s usually not a good one.

More things I was not expecting about the Czech Republic

  • Flowers on every corner stand.

 

  • Every building boasts sculpture, color, art, and architectural beauty.
  • A remarkable public transportation system!

The buses, trams, and metros will take you anywhere in the city in no time and it’s inexpensive to boot!

  • The food is really good, and really real.  No preservatives and corn sugar.
  • I am NOT afraid of Czech dogs.  They are incredibly well trained here.
  • The people are incredibly friendly once I got past the generic exterior.  I was always helped with generosity and kindness.
  • All the souvenir places sell basically the same stuff everywhere in the city.  I don’t feel so bad about Old Town Albuquerque anymore.
  • Dance clubs here are an interesting experience.  I think I’ll try it again.
  • The amazing beauty of the landscape, buildings, river, and women. (sorry, the Czech guys cannot boast the same intense beauty the women can, wish it were so, sigh)  It’s just a beautiful city.

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TEACHING

It’s a whole new world.  I feel that I am only improving.  I wish we had been taught this method at UNM.  I remember being taught the theories of what I am learning how to do.  And DAMN why aren’t we taught grammar??  We do not teach Language in Language Arts.   I am even more convinced than I was before that there not only has to be a better way, there actually is.  I’m not sure that what I am learning is the best, but I have learned so much more in the last week and a half than I did in the  last 2 semesters of college.  This is not because I don’t think that what I am learning isn’t fantastic,  I just haven’t learned enough different ways to say that this is the best….  who knows?  Maybe it is.

This is who I am

I am doing my best to believe and trust in whatever God type being is out there.  I am trusting.  It is not turning out the way I had envisioned, but it is turning out well.   This is the scariest moment I’ve had so far, the moment when I realize that I am about to make this absolutely real.  Not just a vacation, a learning vacation, but 100% real.  Maybe it’s the part of me that loves roller coasters so much, but I feel this fear and just get excited.  I am in the process of being.

Now, I just need to find some solitude so that I can dance, just for me.  I need to feel the energy and recharge.  I’ve been practicing Kundalini yoga in the mornings but I can’t put on any music to dance with.  I miss it.

Back to amazing amounts of homework…… not unlike the last 4 years of my life, but somehow very different.

 

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Praha, you are a beautiful lady

Praha, you are a beautiful lady

 

 

 

 

 

My friend Bryson showed me and my roommate Jennie around town on Saturday from noon to midnight.  And though we were sight seeing for 12 hours we barely touched the tip of all there is to see here.

I will be forever grateful for the abundance of insider knowledge he gave us as we walked around AND for telling us that after 5 years of living here, he still hasn’t learned the language.  This language one tough cookie to wrap my brain around.  I’ll get it, the survival basics that is.

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The Best part!?!  I somehow now remember Spanish.  I’m finding myself easily rattle off the very same Spanish words I’ve been struggling with for the last few years as I am desperately trying to make my mind take in Czech.  Why couldn’t it have done that before?  But I’m really glad to know that I actually can learn a different language.

I’ve found myself saying Good Day or ‘dobry den’ (dough bree den) with relative ease these days and of course I learned ‘Na Zdravi’ (nahz drah vee) or ‘Cheers’!  I’ve had a few beers in the last 3 days.

Speaking of beers. O M G.

Truly, that phrase is used correctly in this instance.  First, I tried the bottled beer; very good, better than any pilsner in the states.  Then, I tried the tap beer; even better.  Then, the God’s came down when Bryson introduced me to Tank beer.  I haven’t tried any of the dark beers yet, but…. I have 4 more weeks, don’t worry I will.

Today’s Czech lesson helped quite a bit and I finally figured out ‘Nashledanou’ or ‘See you later’.  That is a pretty rough word to learn.  The ‘s’ is not blended with the ‘h’ to make ‘sh’. Each letter is pronounced separately.

Yes, I know I didn’t display the phonemes correctly for those of you about to correct me… give me a break it’s almost midnight after a long first day of school here.  Today was a day of firsts:

First bug bite
First day of school, greetings, and what we’re going to do for the next 4 weeks
First day of Czech language
First day of Teaching English Instruction
First day sitting in un-airconditioned classrooms
First grouping with the other students I will be teaching with
First lunch at the apartment
First dinner with no alcohol
First real meltdown
First lesson planned
First study session with my group-mate

Along with climbing 96 stairs every time I need to go to my apartment,

3 blocks to get to the tram or mall, and any other crazy walking adventures – I need to drink a lot of water.  I am very, very glad I brought clothes for every weather because I am told it will be quite cold in just a couple weeks.

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I am pretty happy that I didn’t come to the August class because it had to have been unbearably miserable.  The rooms today were stifling.  It has been unusually hot this summer and Prague does not have many places that have air conditioning.

Each day is from 10am to 6pm – split into four 1.5 hour sessions.  We get a 20 minute break between sessions 1&2, an hour lunch, and a 20 minute break between sessions 3&4.  We have our first students starting tomorrow.  Real people that actually expect us to teach them English.

Bring it.  I got this.  (Now that my meltdown is over)

 

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The First 24 Hours

 

This is the most amazing experience and I have only just begun.   Here I am in Prague.

To set up The First 24 Hours: It is 2 days before I am set to leave, I have officially, finally, begun to pack.  I have suitcases everywhere, everything I own, everywhere.  The garage is full and a mess, Ed has just put even more of my stuff into his storage for me. (Thank you again Ed!!)  My entire wardrobe has been folded and laid out on the bed for me to look over and decide what not to take.  I can’t choose.  What if I need this?  What if I need that?  What if I get there and I need it and I don’t have it?  Why should I spend the money to buy something again if I already have it?  Is it better to ship it if I need it?  Buy it or bring it?  What if I don’t need it at all?

If I don’t need it at all there, did I need it at all here?  What does that say about my choices now?  Who am I really?  Am I just stuff?

Yes…. I was absolutely going through all this in my head while staring at my clothes, after having paid off David to take care of the stuff in the garage because it was too overwhelming to me.   I was finally having my panic moment.  But it wasn’t about leaving.  It wasn’t about whether or not I was going to be safe.  It was about what crap I should bring and what I could bear to part with.  How freaking ridiculous.

So,

I brought it all.  Oh heaven to Betsy, I brought it all; 50 pounds in a large rolling suitcase, 46 pounds in an overstuffed backpack and 37 pounds in a smaller rolling suitcase.   The smaller suitcase was so loaded down that the one wheel broke at the first airport.  Uh huh, I had to carry that bag, while lugging the backpack through the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport – across 3 terminals and on the Sky Train.  Yes, it hurt. A lot.

But, let’s backtrack a little bit from that point to begin The First 24 hours.

After many non-graceful moments of packing, unpacking, repacking, and starting over again – I got everything that I could possibly fit into each bag,

obviously forgetting the important things in order to fit random stuff I might need in.

In a moment of sheer genius Jamie got me and David and my bags into her car and off to the airport EARLY.  Yes, you read that right, early.  I said I wanted to be there no later than 3:45 and we were there by 3:15.  Perfect.

Until the lady at the check-in counter asked who was flying because the ticket said Mari, but the passport I handed her with my driver’s license and flight information, was David’s.  Jamie is in fact a great friend, great friend because the second she heard the lady say it was David’s she was off and headed back to the house to grab mine – which was sitting safely where I thought David’s was supposed to be – no questions, no hesitations.  The Universe was watching out for me that day, because had we not been early I may have missed my flight altogether with that little fiasco.  Thank you again Jamie!!

Luck truly being on my side the flight was also delayed by almost an hour.  I was able to calmly sit in the terminal for about 50 minutes, exactly how long the flight had been delayed.

And so we meet up with where we were before – : too much luggage, one broken wheel and 3 terminals to go in order to make my connection flight to London, which was running early.   Again, fortune blessed me as I met a very nice man that was also headed to that connection AND most importantly knew where to go!  In the hustle and bustle of trying to get on the plane, I was forced (thankfully) to check my smaller suitcase with the broken wheel.  We were in such a hurry that I forgot that my boarding pass to the next flight was in it … along with all my medications, flight information, important phone numbers for the next couple stops, and the only outfit I had packed in case something happened to my checked luggage.

Never fear, I still had a 46 pound back pack full of useless stuff!  I would be fine 🙂

I have been so blessed through this whole adventure and I can honestly say I was equally as excited to meet up with Rodney and Lisa for a plate of fish and chips and a pint in London, as I was to get to Prague!!  And I was rewarded with a wonderful visit.  I will put pictures up here as soon as I can get my computer to recognize my phone as a device.

Rodney met me at the airport once I got the connecting flight boarding pass situation taken care of.  Gratefully, it was an easy fix and the rep was very kind.  I got through customs having had a pleasant conversation with the passport guy about who Rodney was and why he should seek out a show.  We got on the subway, aka The Tube, and headed for South Kensington where we met Lisa and the baby at the Natural History Museum.

After some more time on the Tube and some fast paced decisions in which I was a definitely a tourist with no idea, we found an authentic, fantastic, exactly what I was looking for English pub.  I ordered fish and chips and a pint of Guinness.  Ok, I know that Guinness is Irish, but it may be the closest I’m getting to Ireland for a little while yet.  Not a long while, but possibly a little while.  It was delicious and I enjoyed watching the little one poke around.  She has two great parents : )

Once I got back to the terminal, having ridden the Tube on my own this time (yes a little patting myself on the back for that one!) I went through customs in a breeze, showed them my new boarding pass, got onto the plane and promptly fell asleep.

I woke up to a pretty good Coronation Chicken sandwich and only 20 minutes to arrival!  Yeah 😀

And so much sinus pressure that I was not sure what the hell someone had done to me while I was asleep.  That’s what I get for going from mile high altitude to sea level altitude in just a few hours of pressurized cabin air…  One crazy cab ride later, a few HEY’s and hugs from the new roomie, an hour or so of slightly unpacking, eating a candy bar because everything else was closed, and taking a new kind of shower,

I went to sleep for 12.5 hours.

 

 

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Life is not perfect

A lot of life changes have been happening and will continue for the next few months.  It is amazing how having a goal will keep a sense of calm that otherwise would have these changes wreaking havoc on me.  All the thoughts that normally send me over the edge and wondering “how am I going to handle this thing?”, have been minimal, fleeting; still powerful in their moment, but easily removed.  Why, because I know that I am doing the right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time. 

I have most definitely had my breakdown moments, don’t get me wrong.  It is impossible to go through these kinds of changes without them.  I went through 4 years of constant pressure to get good grades, raise my kids, keep a relationship together, and try not to lose sight of my goals through it all.  Now that I’ve finished school, I am in complete upheaval as the relationship ends and my adult children and I realize that they don’t need raising anymore (except David, a little bit).  They and I have to change how we interact.  AND in order to keep that Goal, I am leaving the country, my children, my stuff and my life as I know it.  I am entitled to a breakdown or two.  But they have been so much more bearable than they would have been without having a goal, a plan.

Moving across town has proven to be one of the most challenging and perfect events of my year.  It is truly making me downsize the way I need to.  I needed to find a neutral space to go through the experience of putting all of my life, the items from when my children were babies, the mementos of my life thus far, the knowledge, and the papers that I cannot take with me into as few boxes as possible.  I am able to release the stuff that is attached to my memories.  It has taken the relocation to get to this point.  It has taken a good friend too, thanks Jamie.

Being able to let go of items that I have specifically been collecting to start my own classroom has been bittersweet.  I know that by the time I get back from overseas I will have a new way to look at teaching, new items to start my classroom.  I know that the classrooms I have donated/ sold items to will be wonderful classrooms.  My fellow graduates are great teachers and I am glad to have helped a little bit with creating a good setting.  But I have noticed this tinge of jealousy as I see my peers starting their new classrooms, decorating, and creating lesson plans.  I want to be doing that too.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense I guess, however I find myself feeling a little jealous that they are starting already and I am waiting to start still.  Thus the bittersweet.

                Yesterday I ran up and down the stairs 20 times in a row, on purpose.  I went to an information session for a Language Assistant program in Spain, and my friend Ed took some of my boxes to store for me.

Thank you Ed, you are a godsend.  I know you will be as good a “grampa” as you have been a dad, and THAT says a lot.  You’re the best dad I know.

I decided to donate all my Pirate party stuff and costumes.  They will fare better at a theater than they will in storage.  I unpacked 3 suitcases, 2 laundry baskets, and 5 cubbies of stuff and condensed them down to one drawer, 2 cubbies, and 1 suitcase of stuff.  I ate brownies and watched a movie after helping clean carpets.  It was a tough but good day.

I will try to keep these as upbeat as possible, but this is the blog of my life and life is not perfect.Image

 

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The 4th, the week, the flight – full steam ahead

I love my country.   I don’t joke around about this.   I really love my country and what it stands for.  I get peeved that the politicians and arrogant citizens screw up our country, but I really love The United States of America.

I love our oceans,

our Mountain ranges,https://i0.wp.com/www.wallpaperweb.org/wallpaper/Animals/1920x1080/North_American_Grey_Wolf_Rocky_Mountains.jpg

our beautiful rivers,

our caverns

and canyons. 

I love the forests

and the deserts;

all the beauty of our country.

I love the many different dialects and lifestyles.  I feel so lucky to have been born a citizen of a country that was born from and has so much potential.

It would have been nice if the original settlers hadn’t needed to destroy the original inhabitants and their cultures to near annihilation- but – I am glad that we are a nation.

As I get ready to leave my country, I am feeling nostalgic about how much I love my country.  I feel grateful that I have been able to see each of the continental states and experience the differences and similarities of those 49 states.  I’ve hiked countless trails, climbed several mountains, rafted a few rivers, swam in both oceans, descended the Grand Canyon, sat in natural hot springs.  I have lived through multiple earthquakes, an ice storm, a drought, a tornado, hail the size of tennis balls, a house fire, a flood.  I’ve traveled by car, truck, motorcycle, plane, train, ship, submarine, and golf cart.  I’ve attended a wide variety of religious gatherings and always felt welcomed.  I have friends across the continent and across the globe.

It is fantastic to look back at all that I have already done, and know that I am about to blow all of that out of the water as I embark on my journey to become an expat teacher.  I can hardly wait.

Our 4th of July was a subdued but still, it was a fun day.  Full workout morning, complete with a short run.  I did about 30 min of yoga before Cori and I met up with Bri and we went for a run.   The girls ran the whole way, I ran the first 5 minutes, power walked about 40 minutes and then ran the last 5.  Cori and I came back and did 3 strength circuits before heading off to go see Brave

It was pretty good 🙂

Cori made her first ever batch of potato salad, which turned out really well!  Then Thane, Cori and I played Disney Monopoly and watched Monsters Inc.   Thane won with a true monopoly that bankrupted Cori and forced me to forfeit.  Well played – anyone landing on any property over 2 consecutive sides of the board owed him like $800- $1200 in rent. Cori and I didn’t stand a chance.

My Flight Is Booked!!!

I’m so flipping excited! I leave September 4th.  The beautiful city of Prague awaits me.  Crazy as it may seem, I miss learning something new every day.  I am so completely ready to be going to school again!  Especially because it is only for a month.  !

Full Steam Ahead Folks – Full Steam Ahead

 
 
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