My Experience With Echo English – Teach in Thailand


Hey everyone!

If you’ve been following me for the past year or so, you’ll know that I spent five months teaching in Thailand. What you might not know is the ins and outs of how I got this job, and what my experience with the company that I went to Thailand with, was like.

Before I really get into this post, I just want to make clear that I loved the school I was placed at. The staff were incredibly supportive, and I made some great friends for life while working there. I taught grades 3 and grade 6, and I adored every second of it. I was placed in a small Thai town named Kamphaengsaen, in the Nakhom Paton district, which is about a 2 hour bus journey from Bangkok. The town itself was great, with lots of fun activities to do at the university, plus cafes and restaurants, and it was a convenient location to visit other places on the weekends. This is one of the main things I am grateful for with regards to Echo; they placed me in an incredible school, and it’s somewhere that I’ll never forget.

I first stumbled across Echo English in December 2018, when I was bored and unhappy in the job that I was in, and was fresh out of completing my TEFL course. Echo English – Teach in Thailand is a company that was founded by a married couple who have experience working in Thai schools, and have lived in Bangkok together for many years now. A job appeared online, and I decided to look into it; what was great about Echo was that they offer short-term contracts, rather than just a full year contract. I thought this was great, because you didn’t have to stay somewhere for longer than five or six months if you didn’t like it, but you had the option to stay on longer if you did. Without much further thought, I applied.

Soon after, I got an interview with Kerry over Skype. She was lovely, and it didn’t really feel like an interview; she wanted to know more about me, and if I had any questions, rather than her telling me about the job itself. They offer jobs for the start of the Thai school year in April/May, and also halfway through the school year in October/November. I made it clear I wanted to go to Thailand in the October of 2019, rather than the April, because it would fit into my schedule so much better. This was all arranged, and not much really happened until August of last year.

The visa and general application process, as a whole, was okay... it was strange because I had never applied to work in Thailand before, so I did find it very confusing at times. I felt that Echo could have been more helpful with the application for the Non-B Visa that you need in order to get a work permit in Thailand; I wasn’t the only one who struggled. A lot of the other teachers on the Facebook page were confused, and some didn’t get their Non-B before arriving in Thailand. I think they did manage to figure it all out in the end, but it just meant they were on a tourist visa instead, and it was slightly more complicated for them. Most of the teachers in my cohort were coming from the UK, so at least we were able to talk amongst ourselves about our experiences when it came to trying to help others out… I still feel this should have been done more so by Echo, but as neither of the directors are from the UK, I can kind of understand why they may not have understood the whole process themselves.

When we got to Bangkok for the week long orientation, it was nice to meet the other teachers that I would be spending the next few months with. I had a conversation with a couple of them, asking about their experience with Echo so far, and their reservations were very similar to my own. They had been worried that Echo wasn’t a legit company, and that their interviews were so weird, and they didn’t feel like they were being interviewed. It was only really when I arrived at the hotel we were staying at, and met the other teachers, that I felt some sense of relief that this is a real company, and it wasn’t a complete scam!

The orientation was good, and I thought Echo did a very good job of organizing it. There were some Thai people who were part of the company, who helped with the Visa applications and the legal stuff, as well as giving us some Thai lessons. The other director of the company is from Thailand, and his main job was to teach us Thai lessons, and to help with any of the logistics of applying for Visas etc, which were helpful… but I felt that he lacked the professionalism that his co-director/wife had. There was even a point where he made an unacceptable joke towards one of the girls, who is Chinese/British, and that was the point where I knew he was someone I couldn’t respect. You can’t have a company where you employ people from all over the world, and make jokes about them. Not okay.

The other issue I had was that in the afternoons when he arrived, he brought their kids with him, and on more than one occasion they would be running around the room, and being incredibly distracting when we were trying to pay attention to some really important information that was being given to us. I think the first time they came in was fun, and I didn’t have much of an issue with them being there for the first 10 minutes or so… but after that it did get kind of annoying.

I remember thinking, before I arrived in Thailand, that there really wasn’t much information about this company online, that was up to date, and their Facebook page doesn’t show any reviews of the company itself. What I can say is that they are a legit company, however, I don’t think I’d go as far to say that I’d recommend them, especially considering that one of the directors, who was the main face of the company, no longer appears to be working with them. She went home to Australia in December 2019, and no one has heard from her since. At this time, I was worried about not getting my work permit before my Non-B expired, and she didn’t reply to any of my messages about it. I did manage to get my work permit sorted, but I appeared to be the only new teacher at my school who ever got a work permit at all… the other two teachers who were with me were on their tourist visas the entire time, and I don’t know why Echo thought this was okay, considering it’s illegal to work on a tourist visa.

This didn’t just happen in my school either. One of the girls I worked with, who later moved to a different school, told me that Echo actively suggested she doesn’t apply for a Non-B, and stay on a tourist visa for as long as possible. Shady? I think so. Although nothing bad ever happened to these other teachers, I know for a fact that it didn’t sit well with me and I was determined to get my work permit before my Non-B expired, which, thankfully, I did. I was lucky that my school were very pro-active, and managed to get it sorted for me by the end of the first week of January… my Non-B was to expire the following week.

And finally, I want to talk about pay. We all got paid 30,000THB, and the teachers at my school (myself included) all got paid in cash directly from the school. This was absolutely fine by me, because it meant that it was one less thing that I had to rely on Echo for. However, schools in Lopburi and Chinat were a different story. They got paid by Echo itself, and that meant the director travelling there to give them their monthly wages. However, at least two or three of the teachers in Lopbui and Chinat from my cohort have still not been paid for their final month of teaching, at the time of me writing this. Term ended in March 2020… we’re now in August 2020. I don’t know why this happened, and I don’t know the full details, but it’s definitely something to be aware of, and I sincerely hope that these teachers get the money that they are due.

If I was to recommend anything, it would be to talk to people you know who are teaching in the country you are interested in visiting, and see if you can get employed directly by the school. Not only might you get paid more than working through an agency, but you’ll know that it is legitimate, and you’ll be treated with respect. There is nothing wrong working with a teaching agency, but I guess you really do need to do as much research as possible, and let the company know that you aren’t going to be messed around with, which is unfortunate, because there are some companies out there that really do a great job! My overall thoughts on Echo are that they are an okay company to work with; they definitely help out a lot when you first arrive in Thailand, and support you with finding accommodation and place you at schools. However, they really do lack professionalism, and it was sometimes really difficult to get a response from them when you needed them the most.

So, here we are, at the end of this post! I hope it was insightful to what it’s like working with a teaching agency in Thailand. If you have any experience teaching abroad, let me know in the comments! Or, if you have any questions about teaching in Thailand, feel free to ask!

-Janet

Dear 18 Year Old Me


Hey everyone!

Before I get into this post, I wanted to give some background. Five years ago, I was 18, and impatiently awaiting my A-level grades to come in and to see whether or not I was going to go to the university I was so desperate to go to. So much has happened since then, and I really like reading other people’s versions of these posts, so I thought I would do one too!


Dear 18 Year Old Me.

Right now, you’re feeling nervous about what is about to come. And, what’s about to come, is going to not only hit you right in the face, and make you feel like you’re taking 100 steps backwards, but it’s going to make you feel lost, confused, and like it was all for nothing. “It” being your entire time at school, the time you spent studying, and working towards your grades, and trying to be as good as everyone around you.

Right now, you’re recovering from the months and months of putting immense pressure on yourself by comparing yourself to your friends who are studying completely different subjects to you- you’re an arts girl, they’re science girls. Stop the comparison- throw it on the floor, stamp on it five or six times, spit on it for good measure. If I’ve learnt anything in the past 5 years, is that comparing yourself to others will get you absolutely nowhere.

Although you know it at the back of your mind already, your A-level grades aren’t what you’d hoped they’d be, but listen when I say that my God have you done amazing things with your life since then. You didn’t get into your first choice of university, nor did you get into your second choice. The weeks after that fateful results day were so stressful, but you made it out the other side in one piece. You found your place in the small, relatively unknown city of Winchester, and that’s where you truly began to thrive.

Maybe it’s because of everything that happened with your A-level results, but you clearly made a subconscious decision to make the most of your time as a student. And that you did. It amazes me even now to think of all the societies you signed up for at Fresher’s Fayre; you even stuck out Ultimate Frisbee and Dodgeball for a semester! Although you don’t continue with competitive swimming until halfway through your third year, you do continue with your other passion of performing arts. No, you don’t study English and Drama like you thought you would, but you probably made the best decision by keeping the drama side of things as a hobby.

Your university years are the ones you look back on and smile no matter what. I’m proud of you for doing all the things you did, even if some of your choices at the time were questionable, but we live and we learn! You now know that even if you appear to be high maintenance when it comes to relationships, it’s because you know your worth and you’re not going to settle for less. Unfortunately, it did take dating someone who didn’t appreciate you for all you are for way too long to learn this, but… we live and we learn!

You have your first (and so far, only) serious relationship which, as we’ve discovered, didn’t last. Dealing with a break up whilst at university is something of a learning curve, but you’ll make it through. You’ll also make some amazing new friends out of this experience, and it’ll become a great storytime in the future! Although you try certain dating apps, they prove unsuccessful, and eventually you decide that they’re not for you, no matter how many times you reconsider! You’ll realise that being single is actually great, and honestly, you wouldn’t have done half of the things you did after graduation had you not ended that relationship. Yes, you do sometimes mope around wondering why you’re still single but you always think back on the things you’ve achieved, and know deep down that these experiences were 100% worth it.

You’re still really close with some of the people you met in your first year; in fact, most of the people you think you’re going to stay friends with after graduation are still in your life in one form or another. Of course, there are others who slip away and that’s okay. You can’t hold onto everyone, and you might find that even the ones you didn’t expect friendships from will eventually become incredibly close to you. There will be people that are by your side one minute, and then want nothing to do with you. Some of those people will want to come back into your life again, and others won’t. And that’s okay.

As for school friends… you don’t exactly do the best job in staying in touch with them. It’s not like you didn’t try… but university life definitely took your priorities, and everything is so exciting and new, that you don’t want to look back in the past, you want to continue doing everything now, and thinking ahead. Five years down the line, you’ll be surprised at how many of the school friends you didn’t think would still be around… are.

Not only did you have the best three years of your life at university, but you graduated with a 2:1 BA Hons in English with American literature; you wrote a pretty decent dissertation on a topic you adored, and you even missed writing it once you handed it in… some people might laugh at you for saying that out loud, but hold your head high and embrace your inner literature student. There will be times where you feel lost, even when you think you should be feeling comfortable. But, you’re always thinking about the next thing, and that next thing was solo travelling.

Yep, that big thing you always wanted to do but deep down, never thought you would. You start by going to your cousin’s wedding in South Africa, followed by your first time going to work in a summer camp in the USA not only once, but twice! You also successfully complete a course which makes you a qualified TEFL teacher, and although you spent years and years saying you would never be a teacher… sorry hun, but we’re going down that road. You’ll thank me for it later! In between the travels, you do find odd jobs, and although you don’t love all of them, they mold you into a stronger, braver, more independent woman that I think you’ll be proud of.

There’s so much more I think I could say, but I feel like I should let you live some of it, without me giving you any more spoilers! You’ll learn this soon enough, but when in doubt, go with your gut… sometimes that means making a tougher decision that not everyone will like, and it’ll take you years to realise that you don’t need to be a people pleaser all the time. Heck, at 23 years old I’m still learning how to do that. But, I’ll end this letter on this; those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. You’ll probably end up using that one a few times!

– 23 year old Janet

July 2020 Wrap Up – I Read 9 Books!


Hey everyone!

July turned out to be a pretty epic reading month. I’d say on average, I can get through 2-5 books in a month when I’m working a normal job, depending on the length and how invested I am in the story. July was a whole other level of reading!

It probably helped that my parents have been busy doing work and online courses and webinars, and my sister has been away working on a popular TV show so I’ve really had to keep myself busy. So, of course, I turned to reading.

All The Bright Places, Jennifer Niven

I did write a review on this already, which you can read here, but basically I thought this book was pretty decent. I think, had I read it when I was 16 or 17, I might have enjoyed it more than I did. I also don’t remember there being many trigger warnings, if any, about issues such as suicide and depression. Although I personally am not affected by these things, I think it maybe should’ve have been a bit more clear for readers who may not feel comfortable reading about this. I did really like the characters but unfortunately none of them really stood out for me.

The Palace of Laughter, Jon Berkeley

In July, I decided to re-read my favourite childhood book trilogy, starting with The Palace of Laughter. I have read this book a few times in the past, but it’s been so long since my last re-read, so it was really nice to read these books again. I was quite surprised at how much of this book I’d forgotten, as it’s my favourite of the three. I love the characters in this book, and I love how the story progresses; what I realised is that I love a good journey in the plot somewhere, and this book is all about Miles and Little’s journey to the Palace of Laughter to try and find two lost friends. Of course, it’s not perfect; it’s a children’s book and it was published 13 years ago! However, even after reading it again, it is still one that means a lot to me.

The Tiger’s Egg, Jon Berkeley

Next, I read The Tiger’s Egg, the second book in this trilogy. I have to say, of the three books I could remember this one the least, as I don’t think I’ve ever re-read it; or, if I have, it was a very long time ago! I liked the story, and that we got to see more of the circus characters in this book, but unfortunately it’s my least favourite. That is simply because it is definitely a filler, or a bridge between the first and the last book. That’s not to say it’s bad, but I just felt it was thrown in there to give us information for the last book. It was a shame, because I really wanted to love it just as much as the first book. It did have it’s good elements, and the ending was one that left me feeling really optimistic and hopeful for Miles… as well as slightly emotional too!

The Lightning Key, Jon Berkeley

Then I read the third book in this trilogy, The Lightning Key. I liked this one more than The Tiger’s Egg because it got straight into the action, and it was very much go go go from page 1. However, it felt like there was just a bit too much going on for me to love it as much as The Palace of Laughter. There is a side plot with the Angels of the Realm, which is where the character Little comes from, and to be honest I felt it didn’t need to be there; or, it could have been there much less than it was. Although I didn’t feel lost while reading this book, I think it could have been better to focus on the other characters more.

Sea Prayer, Khaled Hosseini

This is a really short book, and the illustrations in it are gorgeous. I think it’s a really good way of introducing kids or young teens to the topic of refugees, and why people sometimes need to seek asylum from other places. Khaled Hosseini is my favourite author, so I knew that I would love this book; plus, all author proceeds go to the UN Refugee Agency and the Khaled Hosseini Foundation, which I think is amazing! The story itself is a man telling his son about Syria before the war began, what life was like for people, while they are waiting on a beach to get onto a boat to take them away from the conflict. As I said, the illustrations are fantastic, and it sits perfectly alongside Hosseini’s amazing writing.

The Dawn Chorus, Samantha Shannon

The Dawn Chorus was my next read, and this is a novella which is the 3.5 book in The Bone Season series. It sits between the events of book no. 3, and book no. 4, but Shannon has said that you don’t need to read this book as it contains no spoilers for The Mask Falling, which comes out next year. It’s simply an extra for those who are big fans of the books already, and just want a little bit more! I did enjoy this story and it’s only around 100 pages long, so it didn’t take too long to read at all. I thought that Shannon wrote about Paige’s PTSD in a very real, and sensitive way. I found while reading it, the flashbacks to the events in The Bone Season made me realise just how much of the first book I’ve forgotten, and I think I may have to do a re-read of the series so far, before The Mask Falling comes out!

The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead

I have written a review on this already, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much! I did enjoy this book, however, I just felt that I wanted more. The Nickel Boys is 200 pages long, and although I thought Whitehead did a good job of the story as a whole, I felt that some things were lacking slightly, and I wanted to have more of the characters, and I wanted them to be more developed than they were. If we were given another 100 pages or so, I think this could have done the trick! However, I think it’s a really important book to read, as it is based on true events of the Dozier school in Florida in the 1960’s, and the awful way they treated the African American boys who went there. You can read my review for more details!

Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson

I know this is a bit of a different one, but I felt like I needed something a bit easier to read after reading The Nickel Boys, so I decided to go for some Jacqueline Wilson! I don’t remember reading Double Act when I was younger, which is surprising because it’s about a set of twins- I’m a twin! It just made sense to read it! Overall I did really enjoy this book and I’m glad I eventually got around to reading it. I did find Ruby and Garnet to be kind of annoying in their own ways, but I think it was for the purpose of the story, given how it ends. They needed to learn to become more independent, and it always amazes me how Wilson writes about topics that can be so so deep and personal, in a way that is accessible for younger readers.

Animal Farm, George Orwell

And finally, I read Animal Farm. I know it might seem a bit of a weird choice after reading some children’s literature, but I’m very much a mood reader, and I felt like reading something about animals and communism, apparently! I’m surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. This is the first Orwell book that I’ve actually completed, having attempted 1984 several years ago and not getting very far! I thought that his writing style read very easily, and I didn’t get too lost in any descriptions. Of course, I found the Pigs to be super annoying, especially Napoleon and Snowball, and Squeaker? Is that his name? Let’s hope so! I think that was the point of the book, anyway, you weren’t supposed to like the pigs! I can completely understand why this was one of the novels that brought Orwell to public attention, and this book was absolutely ahead of it’s time.

So those are all the books I read in July! Let me know if you’ve read any of these, and what you thought of them in the comments! I’d love to know your thoughts.

-Janet

Review on… The Nickel Boys


Hey everyone!

If you’ve been following me during the pandemic months (i.e April to now), you may remember I read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and I really enjoyed it. So, when I found out that Whitehead had a newer book out, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

I recently read The Nickel Boys which is Colson Whitehead’s most recent novel. It has also won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2020, so I had very high expectations for this book. The story follows Elwood, a young black boy with dreams of studying literature at college in 1960’s Florida, who is sent to The Nickel Academy for boys, a juvenile correction facility, for a crime he didn’t commit.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead book cover - ABC News ...

While there, he meets new friends including Turner, but he also suffers from racial abuse, as the book is set during a time when America was still a very segregated society. The book itself is just over 200 pages long, and for me, I felt like I wanted more from it. I wanted more from the characters, and I wanted them to be developed more. I wanted to spend more time with them. Even if there was just another 100 pages, that might have been better for me.

I do like Whitehead’s stories and although the way he writes can be off putting for some, I think it’s just a style that takes getting used to. He does tend to jump around back and forward in time, and between characters which understandably can be confusing if you haven’t read his books before- the same writing style was used in the Underground Railroad. He really knows how to shock his readers and he doesn’t stray away from graphic detail.

Writing this, I’m still not 100% sure what I’d rate this book. It’s definitely on the higher end of the star rating but I just can’t pinpoint where it should go. I think that it’s a really important book to read, especially considering it’s based on true events. However, towards the end I did guess the plot twist before it happened which was a shame, because the other plot twists and turns in the novel I found were more unexpected- so I wanted the last one to be really big. But I think having read some of Whitehead’s works now, I kind of now that his stories will never really end in the way you’d expect them to.

However, in saying all of this, I think it’s a novel that’s worth the read. I don’t want to say I “enjoyed it” because it’s definitely a tough narrative to get through, so “enjoyed” isn’t really the right word to use. I think it’s important, it’s honest, and it’s really thought provoking and I think it’ll be a book that’ll be used to continue discussions on race in the future.

– Janet

How To Spend a Day in Winchester


Hey everyone!

On Friday, I visited my old uni stomping ground of Winchester, Hampshire. It was so nice being back, and seeing old friends who I haven’t seen in almost a whole year. Of course, we were being as safe as possible, and masks were worn! I still feel a bit uncertain about staying over night somewhere other than where I live, so I decided to just visit Winchester for the day, and that got me thinking about some of the must sees of Winchester, if you’re short on time.

Winchester Cathedral

This is maybe an obvious choice, but one worth seeing all the same. Winchester Cathedral is stunning- whether you just go and sit on the Cathedral grounds with your lunch or a coffee; wandering around the building itself; or going inside to take a look at it in all of it’s glory. If you’re a literature fan, it is also the resting place of Jane Austen, if you fancied going to visit for that reason! For me, this place has a lot of meaning, and I will always go and sit on the grounds when I go and visit. It’s where I graduated from university, and it’s somewhere that I’ll always encourage people to go and have a look around!

Jane Austen’s House

In Winchester city itself, you can walk out of the Cathedral grounds, and see where Jane Austen spent her final years. It is a beautiful house, although you can’t go inside to visit. However, if you fancied going a little further out of Winchester itself, you can visit Chawton where there is another house where Jane Austen lived, and is now a museum open to visitors. I have never visited this museum myself, but once the pandemic is over, it’s somewhere I really want to go and see!

St Catherine’s Hill

St Catherine’s Hill is one of my favourite places in England, let alone Winchester. The panoramic views from the top of this old hill fort are incredible, and although it is a bit of a mission getting to the top (especially if you’re a crazy student who wants to go up on a snow day) it’s definitely worth it in the end. On Bonfire Night, people sometimes sit up here and watch the fireworks all over the city; or, you can take your picnic with you, and enjoy a scenic lunch!

Pubs Pubs Pubs!

Winchester is pub central. Of course, this may not be to everyone’s taste, but sometimes you can’t go wrong with a good pub lunch, or a late afternoon drink. There are so many good ones to choose from, that I couldn’t just name one. After a quick stroll around the high street, you’ll probably have passed The Royal Oak, known as one of England’s oldest pubs; Alfie’s, which has a really nice outdoor space; or even O’Neill’s, which is great if you’re wanting to go to an Irish sports bar.

The Great Hall

I only went to the Great Hall for the first time last year, with a group of international students on a day trip, and I’m really glad I got to experience it. I think it’s a great place to go with kids, because the staff there are all very informative and explain the history of the Great Hall, and the round table, in a way that very easy to understand! Of course, if you’re an avid historian, this is a great place to visit too, because of all the history and questions surrounding the Knights of the Round Table, where Camelot was, and how Henry VIII even got involved!

The Great Hall - Visit Winchester
**This is not my picture! Taken from Visit Winchester website**

Winchester City Museum

Again, this is somewhere I’ve only been once, but it’s definitely worth some of your time if you’re coming to Winchester for the day. You don’t have to pay to enter the museum, but it is suggested that you give a donation for the upkeep of the building, and so that they can continue their amazing work. As I wrote my dissertation on Victorian literature, that was an era of history where my interests lie so it was fascinating looking at the old scale model of Winchester in that period of time. I only looked around the bottom floor, but there is more to explore upstairs too!

So those are just a few of the wonderful places in Winchester that I would recommend! I could probably go on forever, but I don’t want you to get too bored- plus, this is just a start! I’ll leave the rest of the exploring up to you!

-Janet

August 2020 Bullet Journal Set Up


Hey everyone!

I can’t believe how quickly August is approaching us… I know I say this about every month, but I think especially since we’ve been in lockdown, where time ceases to exist, the thought of another new month just feels like complete and utter madness!

As always, I have set up some new monthly bullet journal spreads, and I wanted to share them with you! If you’d like to see the whole process of me setting up these finished spreads, then make sure to check out my Youtube Channel!

Cover Page

So, as you can see, my theme for this month is a lighthouse theme! I haven’t done this theme before, and looking through my spreads in my current journal, I’ve realised there is a definite lacking of the colour blue so it just made sense to me! I really love how this cover page turned out in the end!

Month at a Glance

I wasn’t originally going to highlight the numbers of the days of the month in yellow, but I feel like it works. It kind of looks like the light from the lighthouse shining out across the sea… or is that just me getting really abstract?

To Do, Goals, and Monthly Highlights

Unfortunately this is when the bleed-through from the other pages starts to become more visible! The journal I use doesn’t have the thickest paper on the planet so this will be a regular issue, but I’m not just going to stop using it for that reason! However, I do like how this page turned out. Over the course of the month I like keeping track of my goals, highlights, and any important to-do’s that need to get done that month. I also decided to put in a quotes page next to it, to fill in the space!

Trackers

Next up are my trackers. I’ve got five in total, plus a section for me to write down any books, movies or TV shows that I’ve enjoyed over the month. There’s not really space for me to write my thoughts on them, but I think it’s a nice way to keep track of the media I’m consuming, so I can look back on it, if I need to! My main trackers include the usual suspects; a mood, habits, sleep, reading, and spending tracker. The latter three are all used in the same way where I just draw a line depending on how much of that thing I’ve done. Meanwhile, my mood and habits tracker I will just colour in the day that I have done that thing, or use the corresponding colour to match my mood for that day.

Gratitude Log

The gratitude log is something I’ve been trying to keep up during lockdown. It has been used in my past journals, but I think it’s really important at the moment to remember what we’re grateful for, which is why it is here! I’ve also put in another quotes page on the next page.

Weekly Spreads

Like in my July spreads, I’ve decided to go for one page per week, because I just don’t know how much I’ll be using these spreads in August as I am still unemployed! I did find I used the weeklies in my July spreads a fair bit, and this format worked for me, so all of my weeks look like this in my journal for August!

Review

For the past few months I’ve been doing a monthly overview/review section at the end of each month, as a way for me to look back on the month and see what I got up to, any of my thoughts and feelings, what went well and maybe what didn’t go so well.

So that is it for my August plan with me! I hope you enjoyed seeing my spreads, and how they turned out! Let me know in the comments what your bullet journal themes for August are!

-Janet

Another Book Haul!


Hey everyone!

I recently bought a whole bunch of new books- although, when I say new, I mean new for me! Some are brand new, and some were bought second hand from sites like eBay and Depop.

I filmed a video on my Youtube Channel yesterday sharing these books, and I thought it would be unfair not to share that video here, too, as many of you who follow my blog are fans of reading too!

So, without further ado, here are the books that I bought recently…

-Janet

2020: The Year of Change


Hey everyone!

I know I don’t need to tell you just how much of a roller-coaster 2020 has been so far. At the start of this year, I was on an island in Thailand just chilling, and having a great time. Fast-forward six months, and I’ve been unemployed for four months, living at home with my family in England, and everything has changed yet again.

I’ve always been the type of person who thinks ahead; I don’t like not having a plan, and when I do start forming a plan inside my head for what I want to do next, I often struggle to adapt when that plan has to change; for example, during a major worldwide pandemic. You see, I had plans to work with a company this month, that I worked with last year in April, to earn a bit of money, and to keep up my teaching experience. It was also located near Winchester, so that mean I would easily be able to visit my friends on my days off. Of course, that didn’t go ahead, because of our good friend Rona.

My next plan was to go to Moscow, in the middle of August. I had everything planned out, and I was so excited for this next chapter of my journey… however, yesterday I received the news that there’s a chance I won’t be going until January 2021. I’m not going to lie, this hit me harder than I thought. They had already postponed our arrival date to September, which was only by a month, and I was thinking, yeah that’s fine! I can deal with that! But, the fact I have to wait even longer to go on my next travels just fills me with so much sadness.

I know that they’re doing this for good reason. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic, and I completely understand why these changes have to be made. I’m also aware that I’m not the only one whose plans have changed, and that I have it so much easier than so many other people right now. However, yesterday, when I got the email saying that it might be moved until January got me thinking about all the other plans I’d started thinking about for when I was meant to come back from Russia next year.

I think I would love to do a PGCE, which would enable me to teach in UK schools, as well as the potential to teach in international schools abroad. My plan was to start this next September, when hopefully this whole thing has blown over. But, if I go to Russia in January, I’ll likely be there until December 2021 as it’s still a year-long contract. That’ll mean I’ll have to postpone my PGCE until September 2022.

Again, I know that this isn’t the end of the world, and places I want to visit and courses I want to study will always be there waiting for me when I eventually decide to get on with it. During these four months in lockdown, I’ve been trying to tell myself that it’s not the end of the world when something changes, because it’s not. Yet, when I found out this news, and started thinking about everything else that was going to change because of it, I started feeling stressed, and frustrated, and sad. It was like when I had to leave Thailand early, and cancel all of my travel plans for April. It wasn’t the cancellation of all these plans that caused me a lot of stress, it was simply the thought of everything changing, and the fear of the unknown that really got to me.

I’d like to think I’m the type of person who is always prepared for things, no matter what; and to an extent, I am. But it all really depends on the situation, and if there are any changes, I can deal with them if I’m involved in the process, and understand why these changes need to be made. I think that’s pretty standard for a lot of people. But what I do struggle with is when change is so sudden, and so abrupt, and it’s like I don’t have any time to process this information; this is when I struggle with change. I don’t like not knowing what will happen, and I don’t really like waiting when I don’t know what to expect.

2020 has definitely been a year of change for so many of us. I feel like there isn’t really a point to this post, but to try and summarize, if you’re feeling anxious about things changing in your life due to this pandemic, you’re not alone. Your feelings are valid, and good things are going to come your way.

-Janet

The Big Travel Bucket List


Hey everyone!

It has been a hot second since my last travel related blog post! I was scrolling through my WordPress Reader earlier today, and saw two of my friends had both posted their own travel related bucket list posts (you can read Jess’s post here, and Zoe’s post here) which definitely inspired me to share with you my own travel bucket list!

Europe

Although I’m lucky enough to have visited so much of Western Europe in my time, there is still so much of it that I want to see, especially some more countries towards the east!

  • Russia – this is a place that is still a possibility for this year, depending on certain world events going on right now! I’d really love to see Moscow, and St Petersburg in particular.
  • Hungary – I know it’s a popular destination for tourists, but Budapest is also high up on my list of places to see! I think it would be so different to a lot of places I’ve visited in Western Europe, so for that reason, this is somewhere I’d love to visit one day.
  • Portugal – Again, another popular tourist destination, but considering I’ve been to Spain, and it’s easy enough for me to get to Portugal, I still don’t know why I haven’t been? Everyone that I know who has been there has loved it, and I want to just spend a few weeks travelling around and seeing what this beautiful country has to offer!
  • Greece – Surprise, surprise… another tourist hotspot. But, I think this goes for the majority of Europe! I have never visited Greece, and although I would love to live out my Mamma Mia fantasy, I don’t just want to go to the typical destinations. I want to learn about the history and the culture, and see more of what Greece has to offer. Also, let’s take a second to appreciate Greek food… yum!
  • Italy – And finally, Italy. I’ve been to Rome only once, and six years later, I still want to go back! As much as I did enjoy Rome, I want to travel the length of Italy, and really make a road trip out of it! I want to see the other big cities, as well as the smaller towns and villages, and of course, I’d love to take a boat trip out to one of the islands, too!

South and Central America

South and Central America have been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. Particularly Peru, and Mexico. This is one of the only continents I’ve never set foot on, so I’m sure you can understand why I’m so desperate to see this place for myself!

  • Peru – As I mentioned, Peru is one of those countries that I’ve been so desperate to visit for such a long time! Of course, there’s the beautiful remains of Machu Picchu, there’s the culture, and the bigger cities too.
  • Mexico – Aah, Mexico. I love Mexican food- I’d say it’s in my top 5 favourite cuisines- and from working two summers at a summer camp, I now have a handful of Mexican friends who I’m sure would gladly show me around some of the popular places, as well as some of the local ones too!
  • Brazil – I know Brazil isn’t necessarily having the best time right now, with Covid19 and also politically, but my God does it look beautiful! My cousin visited a couple of years ago, and I have friends who I met in Thailand who are from Brazil, and they’ve all told me that I should visit one day, so… here’s me putting it out there that one day I WILL visit Brazil!
  • Costa Rica – Costa Rica is somewhere that I didn’t really consider visiting until recently. I follow the Vagabrothers Youtube channel, and they filmed a series in Costa Rica which is what really sparked an interest in me, to visit this incredibly diverse place. It’s got beaches, and it’s got mountains- two of my favourite things!

Asia and Oceania

For those of you who are new to my blog, you may not know that I spent five months, from October 2019 to March 2020, living and working as an ESL teacher in Thailand. My trip was unfortunately cut short due to our good friend Rona, and therefore my travel plans to Vietnam and Japan were cut off completely. But, that now means I have the time to think about a bigger and better trip to Asia one day in the future…

  • Japan – Considering what I mentioned above, this will come as no surprise that I want to visit Japan! It’s been somewhere that I’ve wanted to visit for several years now, and what’s more is that my brother is living and working there as a teaching assistant, so there’s all the more reason to see this incredible place!
  • Vietnam – When I was planning my trip, I only really had a week to spend in Vietnam, and that meant having to choose whether I wanted to visit Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City… but now, I have the chance to plan a longer trip, and even see the whole country via the train that links the north to the south! I’ve only ever heard great things about this country, and I am so excited to visit it one day.
  • Australia – Again, this might seem like an obvious choice of places to visit, but I think Australia would just be epic. Although I’m not one to really get into living the outback life, and camping, and living with the bugs… I think I’d be prepared to push my boundaries with a trip to Australia. Of course, I’d want to go to the big cities, and see the tourist sites. But I think if you’re going to go to Australia, you’ve got to see some of the outback, too!
  • New Zealand – Similar to above, maybe an obvious choice. However, a friend of mine lives in New Zealand, who I had the pleasure of meeting earlier this year, and I’d love to go and visit her! Plus, there’s places like Hobbiton, there’s beaches, there’s mountains… and so much more that I don’t know about!
  • South Korea – When I was planning my travels for April of this year, South Korea was on the list of potential places to visit; however, I cut it down to just Japan and Vietnam. My cousin lived and worked in South Korea for a year as an English teacher, and I remember seeing all of her pictures, and just thinking wow. This place looks crazy! But in the best way, of course! I think it’s somewhere that’s definitely on the rise of “must see places”, which is exactly why it’s made it onto my big travel bucket list!

If you’ve made it this far, I applaud you! Thank you for sticking with me to the end of this very epic travel bucket list post! If you’ve visited any of the places I mentioned above, do let me know in the comments! Or, if you have anywhere else that you’d recommend let me know!

-Janet

Summer Thoughts in Lockdown


Hey everyone!

For the last few weeks I’ve been really thinking about how life has changed during lockdown, but especially during the summer months. I know the statement I’m about to make is from a very privileged position, but this is the first summer that I’ve spent in the UK which feels weird for me. The last two summers I spent working at summer camp in America, and previously I spent my school holidays with family in South Africa.

This year, I was meant to continue my travels, and working abroad as an ESL teacher. At the moment, this has been postponed until September, but at the way things are going currently, there’s no knowing if this will happen at all, considering the place I’m meant to be going to is one of the worst hit countries with this pandemic. I keep saying that if there is anyway that I can go then I will… but I’m also having to think about a plan B in a lot more detail than I’d have originally liked.

The amount of things that I had planned that have been cancelled is kind of crazy. I had another job lined up for the month of July up near Winchester, working with international students but of course, that can no longer happen. I haven’t heard much from the company, but I’ve stopped wondering if the work will go ahead in any way. It’s just frustrating that now I’m going to likely go approximately 6 months before I can get employed again, and that’s if the work I may be getting in September goes ahead.

I mentioned my time in summer camp, and although I didn’t have plans to go this summer, it’s still been so hard thinking about the campers who didn’t get to spend their summer with their camp family. Summer camp really is a bubble, and it’s a safe place for so many kids. My thoughts especially go out towards the girls who were going to be spending their final summer at camp; the oldest girls look forward to their final summer like you wouldn’t believe, because it’s kind of all about them. For many of these girls, they’ve been at camp since they were seven years old, and it really is the end of an era for them. The fact that they can’t spend this summer in the way they’d like to is really heartbreaking, knowing just how much this place means to them.

Although there have been some lows, I’ve definitely learnt a lot during lockdown, which you can read about in my previous post (linked here). Considering how much has changed rather rapidly, we’ve had to really adapt to this new way of life, and I really appreciate having to slow down, and think about what’s important. I understand that it’s important for the economy to get back up onto it’s feet, but I think in a way it’ll be sad for everything to start going back to how it was. So many people have been working from home, and it’s proven to be an efficient way of working because people don’t have to spend so much time commuting to and from work, and they can spend more time with their families. It would be great if companies are able to continue this work ethic, and see the benefits of their staff working from home, even if just a couple of days a week.

I think the biggest thing, for me, has been that I’ve had to adapt to this change, and as much as it sucks, I’ve realised that I’m fine. Although I had all these plans for the summer, at the end of the day what’s most important is that I’m safe and healthy, and all the things I had planned will still be there when this is all over. It’s been a hard lesson to learn, but I know that things will be okay, and I want to take this time to appreciate slowing down. This slower way of life will hopefully be something I look back on in the future, and remember to apply it when I’m back working at a full time job. I hope that everyone will be able to do this, too.

I know this post was a bit of a ramble, but I had a few thoughts that I wanted to write down, and I hope that it will be relevant to some of you reading this! If you’ve felt any similar feelings, or had any similar experiences, do let me know in the comments. I’d love to continue this conversation!

-Janet