Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

This is not a travel blog. This is not an adventure blog.

This is a Charlie pours her head and heart out into the internet blog… just like old times…

[Also, if you didn’t read that title in the beauitful unique voice of my beloved Bowie, please stop right here and listen. I was torn between him and the Scorpions for this one…]

At this moment in time, I’ve decided to start making changes to myself. Improvements in some way… Now, when someway say that, you tend to think they you’ll soon be bombarded with gym selfies, healthy meal updates and half naked before and after photos. Well, don’t worry I’m not talking about those kind of changes. That’s not me, I mean; anyone who knows me knows that that is the polar opposite of who I am.

I’ve actually decided to change myself mentally… now, this isn’t even changing myself mentally as in I’m going all zen, I’m starting yoga and meditation. No. I’ve decided it’s time to change and improve myself in a different way, a better way. A way that I haven’t done in quite a few years… I’ve decided to start doing some online courses. I’ve come to the point in my life at the moment, and especially during my time here, that I’ve started to feel like I’m not using my brain as much as I’d like to. Yes I’m a teacher so I’m using it in that sense every day to ensure the kids understand what we’re working on. But, it’s not as mentally challenging in the educational way as I’d thought and hoped it would be (which is ironic as I’m still in the educational system). Although I’m thoroughly enjoying what I do and am very happy doing it, it’s not challenging my brain as much as I’d like. So this is when I decided to take it upon myself (with the help of a suggestion from a friend) to start to improve myself on an academic level. I’ve started an online course titled Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching.

I’ve never had any experience in this before, apart from the numerous times in my life I’ve been told I should be tested for dyslexia. But, I signed on anyway, because my friend and colleague Emilija, who is actually very involved in this area of study, had a conversation with me about dyslexia while we were grading test papers a week or so ago. I mentioned something about that when I was a kid, and sometimes Continue reading

Is it enough?

[ PHOTO: the view I had when leaving work the other week, sunset and flags over Country Garden]

I’ve been at a loss for words recently, blog wise anyway. Despite having gone through the festive period and New Year’s, I don’t feel like I’ve got much to report on. My last post was a pretty big and it talked in depth about a kind of ‘light bulb moment’, so I’ve not wanted to just tap away meaninglessly about my monotonous daily life as a teacher for its follow up.

I feel like people often expect my life to be so much more than it is. They expect each week, each day to be filled with crazy experiences and adventures that will produce even crazier stories; whereas in fact, it’s not that at all. I don’t even know if I’d want it to be that, it sounds tiring in all honesty. Yes I live away from home, but I’m not travelling, I’m not living on the road, I’m not exploring new places each day and meeting new people. I’m working… I’m living in a small cosy apartment. I have a small group of friends. I have a fridge I try and keep stocked. I have a bus commute to work. I have laundry to do, dishes to wash, bins to empty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m thoroughly enjoying my life out here. But at times, it doesn’t really feel too “out there”. During the work week, when I barely have time to cook my own meals or get home before dark, I could be anywhere… I could be living in some remote town in England, Germany, America, Wales… anywhere that I don’t have family or childhood friends. Anywhere that I don’t know the backstreets or the roads like the ones I do in Abergele.

Speaking to family and friends over the last few weeks has been amazing… but also a little disheartening… People have been Continue reading

What next…?

[Photo: tegalalang rice terrace, Bali from mine and Shelb’s travel this summer]

Planning for the future is a scary thing. Making decisions about your life is a terrifying concept. What if you make the wrong choice? What if you end up missing other opportunities due to the path you chose? It’s inevitable that you’ll always look back and say “Ow, I wish I could have been there for that.” Or “Damn it, I should have done this instead.” You can never cover all the bases that you wish to. You’re always going to have to choose one side of the coin. My coin currently has a few sides; it’s more like a triangular dice, or cute little (intimidating) cube…

A co-worker sat down with me the other day and discussed in great lengths her options and thoughts for the end of this academic year. It sounded exciting, adventurous, and fuelled with purpose and passion. I guess it helped that there was a love interest thrown in there to help aid and focus her attention, but still, she had a plan (vague as it was), and it could work [for her]. It was so easy for me to sit there and encourage her to follow this dream, to book the flights, to plan her trips. “Just do it!” I cried, “What have you got to loose!?”… Why is it so much easier for me to have that much faith and trust in someone else’s life and travel plan, than I have in my own? I have very little/no faith that the decisions I make at the end of this academic year will lead me to exactly where I’m supposed to be. I feel like I’m being torn across the globe. Pulled in all directions… I have to go there. I have to be back for this. I should think about that. I need to do it…

In all honesty, I feel selfish for what my thoughts and possible plans are. I can’t call them plans; they’re, at best, ideas. I know people repeatedly say “Your 20s are your selfish years. Do what you want. Go where you want. Be who you want.”… but I feel like I have to have some sort of structured plan right? Like, I don’t want to get to 29 and suddenly be like “Oh crap, I’ve had a great 8 years, but what now?! I’m not qualified to do anything; I’ve got no money to start my life. Is it time to whack out the old Maccies uniform and cap?!” I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, I feel like I’ve Continue reading

Clockenflap. Whaten-flap?!

[PICTURE: View of the stage through the umbrellas]

Clockenflap. What a name. I first heard of this festival back in September, when the legendary Die Antwoord were down as headliners. Now, if you’ve never heard of Die Antwoord, I’m tempted to say, don’t go in search of them. Please. Nana, Gran, or anyone else, please do not listen to their music or, heavens forbid, do not watch their music videos. Just know that they’re a really weird messed up music group from South Africa that have a cult following. They also made an appearance in the movie Chappie, which, I think is the only suitable place for you guys to whiteness them. So, when I heard that these crazy b*stards were playing the festival, I stored it away on my list of things to do: book tickets to Clockenflap 2016.

Candice knows of the band, she knows them more than most I’ve met, and even introduced me to them in a way. So she was my first port of call when thinking about a festival buddy. But, unfortunately, due to work etc. as the weekend came flying into view, we realised it wasn’t going to be possible for her to make the trip. Plus, tragically, Die Antwoord pulled out of playing the festival for unknown reasons. [Rumours are they’re in the process of making a new album.] With crazy work and my new life here I slowly forgot about the name Clockenflap (hard to do…) and went about my normal life. That was until, Nick, a Kiwi in my grade, mentioned in passing that he would be requiring a morning of “sick leave” on Monday 27th November. Please bear in mind that he stated this at the end of October. With a sheepish look on his face, and a sweeping hand motion that asked us to move on the conversation, I held him back after the meeting and asked what fun “sick leave” inducing activities he Continue reading

Bright Colours and Beer…

[PHOTO: Taken from the huge wall sized window in the communal room of our “hostel”]

So, if you have me on ANY social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Wechat, WhatsApp etc…), you can probably guess what this post will mainly be about.

Work has been non-stop and as crazy as ever. We start to get the hang of our curriculum and the weekly routine, and then BAM a new thing is dropped on us and we’re expected to fit it into one of our five 35 minute lessons a week with the kids. I’m quite enjoying it though, I feel very fortunate I’m in Grade 5 and not in Kindergarten like the rest of my pals. But this isn’t a post moaning or groaning about work… this is about my weekend trip to Shenzhen!

At 11.50am Friday afternoon, I made a mad dash from work, to the bus stop and waited for Kyle, Kim and Danielle. We all headed to Subway (not the healthiest, but definitely the quickest) and grabbed a quick lunch. Kim was hanging around the free WiFi until 1.11pm for the massive Taobao (Chinese version of eBay on steroids) “single-day” sales. Single day is on the 11th of October (the 11th month) of each year, and it’s basically like the western black-Friday times 1000… I left her and Kyle there, munching on their free cookies and hopped on the bus heading back to Dong Yuan (East Garden). It was so cold for a couple of days last week, Friday it was down to about 14`C, bearing in mind less than 2 weeks ago it was 34`C… So back to my little apartment I went, and had probably the most productive lunch break of my life. I did all the dishes left over from cooking the night before, I did a load Continue reading

Transformation: 25th Oct Prompt

[Photo: Taken on Monday 24th Oct while sat wating for the bus heading to Dong Yuan at lunch time. Within 2 hours the weather transformed from this bright blue sky, to heavy dark and angry storm clouds that drenched the gardens.]

So this one is a few days behind. Transformation was the word prompt for October 25th. Today; the first day of me sitting down to attempt this post, laptop on knee, Tom Petty singing about losers and American girls, cuppa to my right, is October 27th. I used to do a “prompt a day” a couple of times a week when I started this blog, but, at that time I also had more spare quiet moments at my desk with not much to do. Things have changed. Things have…. Transformed. I’m sorry, that was cheesy, but I stand by it! A friend who is currently up to June in trawling their way through my long winded and self-absorbed posts mentioned that they miss when I used to “explain my idea of stuff”. Meaning, they liked the posts where I take this one word, the selected jumble of letters that WordPress presents us with each day, and run with it. Sometimes I run head strong in one focused direction, other times I may as well be trying to dodge bullets with the amount of zig-zagging and tumbling over myself I do while trying to explain my thoughts and feelings of the word. I noticed this word pop up in my inbox a couple of days ago and it’s been on my mind since. So here we go…

Transformation – 

  • a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance

  • a metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal

  • the induced or spontaneous change of one element into another by a nuclear process.

Shamefully, one of the first things that pings up into my mind when I read this word is not the incredible journey a caterpillar embarks on during its life. Nor is it the leg sprouting, tail loosing changes a wee little tadpole goes through to become the frog. No. My first thought was: #TransformationTuesday. It pains me to even admit that and see it here in my ever growing Word Document that I type my blog post drafts upon (currently at 74 pages; 40,000 words). Yep. A bloody hashtag about body changes, diet achievements, when puberty hit hard to a lesser than average looking kid etc. is what I think of when I read those 14 letters strung together. Maybe that’s an embarrassing and awful insight into my social media habits and slight addiction (which, I must admit, I’m slightly getting over). I recently posted a somewhat #TransformationTuesday post myself, except, it was on a Sunday. I’ll start by admitting how much I wasted a perfectly good weekend. Did I go out and explore my new surrounding some more? No. Did I go and Continue reading

5 Days off, 2 days out…

[Picture: as mentioned in a blog post way back in May/June, I collect things. All things. So, this is my mini collection of tickets and cards etc. from the past couple of days. Don’t they look pretty!!!]

How lucky am I? Shamefully, it’s only hit me today just how fortunate I really am. On Monday 3rd, I decided I wanted to go to Hong Kong to see Candice, Julie, Richard and Katie. Wednesday 5th, 11am, I was on the ferry at Shunde Dock on my way. How many people can say that within 5 days they can decide to go to HK, get tickets, get a ferry, be there for 2 nights, and be back home in their pj’s by Friday? Not too many (apart from the billions of Chinese people who do it every year…)

Country Garden School broke up for the holiday on Friday 30th September; a lot of the teachers had pre booked tickets to escape the crazy mad rush of holiday tourism over the Chinese break. Myself and my friends however, (Danielle, Kim, Kyle, Collin, Becky, Gabby and Cassie) had not done this at all. Each of us had our own reason for not planning a trip away; whether it be lack of money (yes us Worlda employees are STILL waiting for our first pay check, only 13 days to go…), lack of passport (visa changes etc…), or simply the fact they wanted to relax or explore the area we had all found ourselves dumped in. I spent Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mainly with Danielle hopping on busses, going to markets, ending up in various shopping malls, and just generally wandering around (somewhat aimlessly) working out the surrounding area. We headed to Guangzhou on Saturday and Tuesday, Saturday with 2 other Kindergarten guys, and Tuesday with Kim and her Dad who left pretty soon after we arrived. We ate some great food; hotpot, Muslim rice, Italian, questionable Chinese food and much more. Friday night we had a nice chilled evening at Kims watching the first half of the extended version of The Fellowship of the Ring (I forgot just how bloody long those films were) with some pizza that Continue reading