This Christmas

Well, I’m easily falling behind on these blog posts… I’ve now officially been gone for four months (as of today), which is absolutely insane! It doesn’t feel like I’ve been gone that long at all, but I guess that’s a good thing. I finally finished my last week of term one on Friday, so now I’ve started my holidays! These past two weeks have been pretty busy, as my agent has been sending me all over the map and I ended up going to six different schools in the course of eight days. The only school I ended up going to more than once was one of my difficult schools (that I stayed at for three weeks before). Last last Tuesday, Jess and I BOTH ended up not getting called into work for the first time ever! We decided to go into central London and check out Winter Wonderland once again. As I said before, it’s like the Exhibition except Christmas themed and because we went during a weekday, it was completely empty! If Jess and I wanted to go on any of the rides (which we didn’t), we could have had each one to ourselves because there were absolutely no kids there; it was awesome! We then did some shopping and checked out some Christmas markets before heading home. On Friday night, one of my co-workers asked if Jess and I would like to go out, so we went into Piccadilly and got two for one drinks all night! Let’s just say we took advantage of the situation, and had a really fun time!
This past week, I was no longer guaranteed pay so if I didn’t get work, I wouldn’t get paid for it (they have that rule for the week before and the week after a holiday, which kind of sucks). Luckily, I ended up getting work during four of the five days so I should still have money to sustain myself. However, I think my agent was sending me to crap schools just because he knew I was going to HAVE to go in order to get paid. And I NEEDED to get paid since I wouldn’t be working for the next two weeks. So during two days this past week, he sent me to my difficult school that I was at for three weeks. Then I was also sent to another colleague’s schools in southeast London, and worst of all, I was sent to a school that wasn’t even IN London. Which takes about two hours to get to. And thanks to the trains not working, it took me two and a half hours to get home after school!  I’ve already told my agent before that I wouldn’t be going back to that school cause it also requires a taxi ride that costs 13 pounds one way, but he still managed to get me to go there this week, argh! On Friday, I didn’t get called into work so it was somewhat like an early holiday except I ended up having to sit there for half the day, wondering if I would get called into work. Then I started my Christmas baking! So far, I’ve made banana muffins, shortbread cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies , and lemon crinkle cookies but I still have about three more batches that I’m planning to make! On Tuesday night, I got to go to the 2Cellos concert. I’ve been following them since before they became famous, and I’m pretty sure it was from something as simple as a youtube video that was posted on Facebook. 2Cellos are amazing in that they put so much emotion into their music; you can feel everything that they’re feeling when they perform. When they play a sad song, you feel like crying (and I nearly did multiple times); when they play a happy song, you laugh; and when they play an upbeat song, you dance. They get so into their music, it’s incredible! And they must go through a bow each during every performance that they do, as most of the hair was frayed and broken off from how much force they were putting into their cellos. Such a beautiful performance!

An article came onto my newsfeed this week, which totally drew me in. It was titled “13 Things Only Women who are Goal Diggers Will Understand,” and I realized that even though I had never heard of the term in my life, I’m a Goal Digger! And I’ve realized that it’s an awesome thing to be! I have always planned my next stepping stone, the next level I’m going to move onto in life. I don’t remember the last time I WASN’T working towards something, whether it was education-wise, money-and work-wise, or just life-wise. I always thought that once I finished university, I wouldn’t have anything left to work towards but I’ve found that I just keep making more and more goals for myself (hence why I’m currently here in London). I’ve been so determined in achieving my goals, I’ve never let anything or anyone get in my way. I’ve always used the excuse of not wanting to be in a relationship because I was scared that it would hinder me from getting where I wanted to be in life. I wanted to focus on me and only me, and not have to live my life making compromises for another person. Maybe this is selfish of me… but then I look back on everything I’ve experienced, everywhere I’ve been, and every goal I’ve achieved and I can’t say I would have done anything differently. However, I guess that’s also a sacrifice that I’ve willingly (and sometimes not-so-willingly) made. I’ve gotten used to watching couples form all around me, watching some of my friends get married and have kids. Form that unconditional love with their significant other or their child. I’ve gotten used to being the third, fifth, seventh, or ninth wheel at events. To feeling like I don’t have that other person to turn to, and even though I still have friends to turn to, I’m never that person for my friends since they already have someone of their own. I’ve gotten used to feeling like I don’t have the right to call up friends because they’ll be with their significant other, and I’d rather just not bother calling than have to face rejection. But I’ve also gotten used to solely relying on myself for happiness. I used to sit and sulk and feel lonely, but now I embrace being able to do whatever I want whenever I want, and not having to worry about pleasing anybody else. And honestly now, I feel like half of that is because I’ve gotten so used to being alone, that I’m actually petrified of giving up my independence and committing my time to someone else. At age 25, I’ve experienced more than what most people would experience in a lifetime. And I still have two-thirds of the way to go (at least)! All the time, I hear about how lucky I am, and I’ve started to hate that phrase. I realize that I’m blessed with the family I was raised in, the finances and support that allowed me to grow up in a safe and healthy home with access to a great education, the friends that I’ve met throughout the years. But me living in London and France, or going on weekend trips, or anything of the sort is not my idea of luck, but of hard work and dedication. I worked two to three jobs at a time throughout the majority of my university career in order to pay off my student loans before they were able to charge me interest. I saved up for my own car, and I powered through my internship in order to get my education degree, because I knew that it would give me access to teach anywhere in the world. During the extremely tough times of my internship when I wanted to quit, I kept telling myself, “Do it for Thailand” (because that was where I wanted to teach at the time). I COULD have avoided going to university and continued serving in restaurants or au pairing around the world. I COULD have stopped at my biology degree and started doing research in a lab. I COULD have used my education degree to move to a small town in Saskatchewan and teach in the same classroom for the next 25 years. But we only get one life, and I intend to live mine the best that I possibly can. I guess what I’m trying to say is all of these experiences weren’t brought to me by luck because to me, luck is just when the odds are in your favour, like going to the casino and rolling the perfect combination. I believe that most people have the same chance of having the same experiences, but it’s those who work towards what they want who are actually going to get it. It’s not impossible to make something happen! And it’s definitely never too late to start working towards it! Living in London has taught me how much time I’d waste at home. When it was the weekend, I’d just stay at home and watch TV or sit on the computer all day long because I needed a break. Sure, I do that every once in awhile here but usually, I’m planning my next little adventure for each weekend, trying to figure out what part of London I’ll explore next. And living each day like it should be lived: to the fullest. And as most of you have read, living in London isn’t a walk in the park either. It has its own challenges to deal with. But it’s changing me, just like every other experience I have. I’m paying rent (and a crapload of it at that!), I’m making REAL meals (not just the instant meals you make from a package), I’m dealing with crappy landlords (and doing a darn good job of it if I do say so myself), I’m cleaning my own house (wow!), and I’m learning how to deal with a new job, a new culture, and a whole new life while halfway around the world from everything that’s familiar to me. I don’t want to sound narcissistic, but I can look back on everything I’ve accomplished and how far I’ve gotten, and I can truly be proud of myself. And I will continue to be a Goal Digger for as long as I want to be!

Sometimes I wonder if I share too much on these posts. Then again, sometimes I just need to let everything out. I guess maybe it would be a good idea for me to get a diary in those situations… but for now, I’ll use my blog 🙂 I hope everyone is getting into the holiday spirit wherever you may be. I hope you all have the chance to spend a good amount of time with those you love and care about. Know that I’ll be thinking of you all during the next week 🙂 Merry Christmas! Love always
This Christmas – Anna Sahlene

Lion’s Heart

Yay, two more weeks until Christmas holidays!!! Last Monday and Tuesday, I taught science at one of my regular schools. There was a point on Tuesday when I had a group of year 8’s and I was warned that they’d be difficult to deal with. One of the teachers said he’d drop by to get them all under control. The students were supposed to start with 15 minutes of reading time and I warned them that I wouldn’t start timing 15 minutes until there was complete silence. That complete silence finally came 20 minutes after class started. There was a point when something came out of nowhere and took over me, where I put on my mean face and scared all of the students. I have no idea where it came from! Even I would have been scared if I was on the receiving end! I wish that side of me could come out more often when I have out-of-control classes! The class was completely silent for the rest of class, and the teacher stopped by and was extremely surprised, “Wow, they work REALLY well with you!”
On Wednesday, I was asked to go back to the difficult school that I was at for three weeks. I assumed I’d be going for science since Jess was asked to go there the previous day, but I was surprised to find out that I’d be teaching two periods of music, two periods of German(??), one period of games, and one period of art. I mostly had 7’s and 8’s so it was a pretty simple day (with the exception of the last period). For German class, I ended up getting all of my old 7’s, who continuously asked me if I could please come back and teach them science because all of the other teachers were mean and I was the best teacher. “You have to fight for us, Miss! All the other teachers just yell at us.” It was nice to have them cause I’m not treated like a supply teacher; they actually listen and get their work done. Even some of my horrible 10’s waved and said hi to me in the halls! The last period, I had about a third of my old students (who were all fine), and then two-thirds of completely new students (who were all horrible). The horrible students started throwing stuff around the classroom, and one student was incredibly rude and refused to leave the classroom when I asked him to, replying with, “Are you dumb?! This is the only class I have every day and if they see me in the hall, I’ll get expelled.” I wonder why… (By the way, this level of respect is “normal” here in the uk, which is why I was constantly losing my mind during the beginning of my teaching. It’s ridiculous. Kids say things here that I wouldn’t DREAM of saying to an adult). Finally, the principal came in and I asked her to remove him from the class. And from that point on, everything was fine (for the most part).
On Thursday, I was sent to an all girls’ school because my agent has been trying to get me a permanent job there for January. Even though I STILL don’t want to work a permanent job, if I WERE to choose a school to work at permanently, this would be the school that I would choose. Anyway, the day was quite easy but then I had to meet up with the head teacher to talk to her about the job (which I really wasn’t interested in doing, but I also didn’t want to be rude and just leave). She said that she’d have to observe me teach a lesson for 20 minutes, but I’d have to sacrifice a day of pay in order to come to the school for that period of time (which obviously wasn’t going to happen). She left it off saying that the ball was in my court and if I was interested, I should let my agent know. My agent called me right after to ask how everything went and then said he got the impression that Jess and I weren’t interested in full-time teaching (FINALLY! Not only had we told him multiple times, but Jess ended up writing our Canadian consultant about us constantly being harassed to take permanent positions. Our agent must have wrote him and only THEN did he get it..). Anyway, he said that he had a job for me the following day, but it wasn’t actually in Southwest London; it was moreso in West London (and therefore, his colleague would be sending me the school’s information). He also said that the job would be available for me for the next couple of weeks, but told me to see how Friday went first and then I could decide. “Well, is it a bad school?” “Umm I honestly don’t know.. it’s won some awards!” Well, I guess it wouldn’t be too bad then! But he still sounded kind of hesitant. I went home and did my own research and found out that yes, it DID receive awards.. for most improved school.. because it was one of the EIGHT most challenging schools IN ENGLAND(!!). Lovely.
So I went there the next day, expecting the worst. I met two other supply teachers when I was there, both who worked for a different agency and both whose agents told them that they’d be going to a school with behaviour issues (funny how mine managed to leave that bit out..). Anyway, this school was just as bad as the school that I worked at for three weeks (if not worse). There was no way I’d be getting any of the students to get any work done! And in cases like that, I just focus on keeping them occupied so they don’t start throwing stuff around the classroom, beating each other up, playing with the sinks, etc. So I had a group of year 11 students playing hangman and a group of students playing Scattergories for two hours (cause I had them for a double period). Which I find works well when kids start misbehaving cause I’m like, “Yo, I’m letting you do NOTHING. I’m not making you do your work. Respect that and act like a normal person.” And then they’re usually like, “Yeah you’re right…okay, sorry Miss.” Anyway, by lunch I knew I wouldn’t be spending the next three weeks at that school, so I wrote my agent to tell him that. There was one point when I was walking to class with the other supply teacher and we were stopped in the hall by another teacher because the other supply was carrying a cup of coffee from the staff room. “Sorry miss, you can’t have hot liquids in the corridor when the students are present; it’s a safety hazard.” Seriously?! I was flabbergasted. Sure, I could see the reasoning for that in an elementary school with little kids running around, but with ages 12-18? Towards the end of the day, a lady came to my classroom and asked to talk to me in the hall. I thought I was going to get in trouble for not keeping the kids quiet enough, but she ended up explaining that the kids have had a rough time because they haven’t had a proper teacher, and they’re sick of doing cover work and they’re looking for someone who will plan lessons so the kids can do more than just textbook work. She was wondering if I’d be interested in that position until Christmas, to which I replied no; I only want to do daily cover, and be supplied with cover work. She didn’t seem too happy with me.. After school, I left in such a foul mood and then I got a call from my agent’s colleague who tried to convince me to stay with them until Christmas. I told him how I didn’t have a good day and how it was the second-worst, if not the worst school that I’ve been to and I was 100% sure I wouldn’t go back. The first thing that ticked me off was how he said that the school said I did a good job but they could tell that I obviously didn’t want to be there BUT they were willing to give me a second chance if I decided to come back on Monday… (And that’s supposed to convince me how?). The second thing that ticked me off is he used EVERY single line that my agent has used on me! Like they must have a handbook with useful lines to use in order to convince and manipulate the cover teachers. Like “Oh, can you just do this one favour? It’ll help out the company a lot, and it will REALLY help me out…” Anyway, the conversation went on for at least 5-10 minutes, with him constantly asking me to consider it and me constantly saying no (and getting more and more annoyed when I heard more and more of his lines). He even offered to pay me 15 pounds extra each day and I still declined. Finally, he gave up and let me go and the bus finally came and I got home about two hours later cause traffic was backed up.
That weekend, Jess and I decided not to go into central London (as I had mentioned on my last blog post) because of the ISIS threats. We decided to check out some of the local Christmas markets, and then we spent most of Saturday at the mall. I was trying SO hard not to spend money on clothes, but the dresses were too nice so I just HAD to get some! We went out for sushi at a place by our house that’s ALWAYS full every time we pass it, and we finally figured out why! It was so good!
Back to work on Monday.. That day, I got sent all the way PAST central London to east/northeast London. Meaning I had to pay extra money to get there, and I had to spend more time travelling there. I think my agent could tell that I wasn’t impressed with him sending me to random schools, and he thanked me multiple times for going. Luckily, it was a really good school so I didn’t have to worry about behaviour or anything. At the end of the day, my agent called me and said that the one school I had an interview with called and wanted to offer me the job (even though the ball was apparently in my court…). I said I wasn’t interested and he said, “Well just think about it tonight and let me know what you think..” On Tuesday, my agent’s boss called me and said that he was going to send me to one of HIS schools, which again wasn’t in Southwest London. It was closer than the other one though.. in south/southeast London but I still didn’t understand why I wasn’t being sent to any of the schools that were close to me. I realized that ever since I told my agent that I wasn’t interested in a permanent position, he’s sent me to random schools three days in a row. Later that evening, I got ANOTHER call from my agent, who said that I still didn’t let him know if I wanted to take the job or not (seriously?) so I very clearly said, “I’m not interested,” which I think finally got the point across. Finally on Wednesday, I got sent to one of my regular schools. The day was great, except for the last period when no one would do any work. During the last five minutes, one of the other teachers showed up and looked at everyone’s work and said that the entire class would be staying after school, and people would only be able to go home when they finished all eight questions. The entire class (minus one student) was out after 20 minutes, but the one student STILL refused to write anything down and instead tried getting past two other teachers in order to leave the classroom. They finally let me go after 35 minutes (I couldn’t exit before since they were blocking the one student from leaving the classroom), but apparently they ended up staying after school with him for an entire hour. I was called to come back the next day, which went A LOT more smoothly since I had the same class during the last period and I threatened them all with a repeat of the previous day. This time, the majority of the class finished all of their work within a half an hour! That day, I only had problems with the year 11’s, who kept throwing paper across the classroom into the garbage can. One kid brought an entire stack of paper just to crumple up and throw around the classroom! So I made a deal with them… if they got it in the bin, they’d have the satisfaction of getting it in the bin, and nothing more. And if they missed, they’d get five minutes detention. And it was their choice on whether they wanted to take a shot or not. Six out of seven boys decided to try, and they all missed. Then three of those six decided to take a second shot and two of them missed. Then one boy continued to try until he got to 35 minutes. Boys and their egos, I tell you… On Friday, I got asked to go to another of our regular schools and when the year 8’s decided to start throwing paper around the classroom, I made the same deal with them. And of course three of them just kept on trying. So I guess threatening detention doesn’t always work, but at least it stops MOST of the class…
This weekend was pretty low-key as well. Jess and I checked out one of our local Christmas markets and then went to the Fox & Hounds for dinner! They had an amazing deal: a meal (I got fish & chips) and a pint for 5.99! Jess and I also reserved our flights for our Christmas holidays, so we’ll be heading to Austria from December 26 to January 2nd! On Sunday, I met up with Kim and her friends for brunch, and to celebrate Kim’s birthday. For 30 pounds, you got a main dish, unlimited pastries and coffee/tea, and unlimited bloody mary’s and bellinis! I think I ended up getting about four bloody mary’s and two bellinis, just so I could get my money’s worth. And then I got Eggs Norwegian, which is like Eggs Benedict except instead of ham, it’s with smoked salmon. So good! Anyway, sorry I don’t have anything too exciting to write about.. life is just life over here! Hope everyone’s getting into the holiday spirit! Love always
Lion’s Heart – Eliza and the Bear