A Life Update


Hey everyone!

Wow, long time no see, eh?

I felt that it might be about time for another “life update post”, since it’s been so long since the last time I can honestly say I was in the blogging mood. I think the last time was probably back in May this year.

So, I went back to camp  in June, which was probably the last time I was really active on my blog, and from there, I just took a step back because… wow. What a summer it was. Camp was hectic and in all honesty, I can’t say I enjoyed it an awful lot. I hate to admit it, because when I compare it to last summer, it was so much better then. I felt like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Now, I may just be exaggerating slightly, because it wasn’t like it was the worst summer of my life. I met some incredible people, both campers and counselors alike, and I really do treasure the memories I’ve made with these people who are from all over the world. 

I’m not going to go into the details as to why I didn’t enjoy my experience, because a lot of it is very personal, and obviously it was a job where I worked with kids so for confidentiality reasons I’m a bit cautious about writing about my honest experience at camp. Maybe in the future I’ll feel more comfortable doing so, when more time has passed and I’ve actually had time to try and figure out some of the reasons as to why I was often feeling down. It was one of those weird ones, where I couldn’t always blame my bad days on someone else, and I couldn’t figure out what was getting me down so much.

Do I regret going back? No, because like I said, I got to know so many more campers and counselors, and the memories I have with them always bring a smile to my face. But I think about the other opportunities I could have had this summer- I could have worked as an English teacher in an Italian summer camp, or worked with international students in London for the whole summer- and I just wonder would it have been better? But I know that if I hadn’t gone back to camp, I’d still be asking myself that question. I’d feel like I was missing out seeing all of my friends posts on Instagram.

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, and like I say, some things I’m still trying to figure out so I hope that in time I’ll look back on this summer in a more positive light. After camp, myself and four other counselors ended up in the same hostel for the same amount of time in NYC, and that really was a highlight. Last year I only spent 24 Hours in New York City which really wasn’t enough time to spend exploring a city, especially since the only other time I’d been there was about ten years previously, and that was only for a day. I really did have the best time with this group of people, and it was nice spending equal amounts of time with them, and on my own to do my own thing.

Some of the highlights from New York, for me were the following:

  • A weird one, but the hostel itself. If you’re ever in New York, or any major American city, make sure to check out the HI Hostels. They’re a chain of youth hostels, and you really do get good value for money. They organise events every day and night, and if you’re a solo traveller these are great ways to meet people, and explore the city in a group.
  • Central Park is quite possibly my favourite place on Earth. I even had the chance to go for a jog around some of central park, but my only regret was that I made a wrong turn out of the park and through some weird streets back to the hostel. But, it’s beautiful, it’s big, and it feels like you’re not in a city, even though the skyscrapers are still visible if you look up!
  • Chicago the Musical, Times Square, Top of the Rock and the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Although these are all the “typical” tourist destinations, it’s nice to see them and at least do them once. I often avoid typical tourist attractions, because I want to see what else the place I’m visiting has to offer, but it’s a tourist attraction for a reason. And I’m glad I went to these ones, because they were all incredible in their own way. The 9/11 museum was emotional, for obvious reasons, and I was holding back tears from the moment I walked in. If you go to the Top of the Rock at night, you get to see New York in all of it’s sparkling glory, and though it’s fairly expensive for what it is, I’d recommend doing it at least once. Chicago the Musical was just awesome, and I’m so glad we splashed out a bit and got tickets- 10/10 recommend!

Then myself and one of the girls in our group went up to Boston for my last few days before flying home, and it was a very different vibe to New York. Part of me wishes I’d done it the other way around and visited Boston first, because after the business of the big apple, it almost felt underwhelming at first. However, it’s a great city to visit, and if you’re into history (especially American civil war/independence etc) then it’s a great place to visit! We managed to latch on to the end of a Boston Trail tour and it was really informative, even if our guide was… hyper… he was entertaining though! There was so much history based in Boston, which I had no idea of and that for me was one of the best days. Then, a few days later, I met up with a friend who I’d met at camp last summer, and we impulse bought tickets to see the Jonas Brothers, which was absolutely insane and I’m so glad I *cough* talked her into going with me! *cough*

And just like that I was back in England.

For 10 days.

Then I flew out to South Africa.

I’ve been here since the end of August visiting family and friends, and after about a year and a half of not seeing my South African family, it was definitely the kind of relaxed holiday I needed. I’m lucky in that I’ve been able to come out here most summer holidays since I was a child, and visit my family who I don’t get to see otherwise, and I realise it’ll probably get harder to do these visits as a family, because I’ve now left university, I don’t have a summer holiday anymore, and I have to start being an adult with a proper job at some point soon, so of course if I get the chance to come out and visit for any period of time, I won’t say no to it.

With a week left here, it feels like I’ve been here forever, and in many ways I’m excited to go back home and prepare for the next thing, but at the same time, it’s gone by really quickly, and I’m not really ready for it to end, because I don’t know when I’ll be able to actually see my grandparents and my aunts, uncles and cousins again. This is one of the things I’ll have to get used to now that I don’t have summer holidays with plans already set out for me.

So, what next?

I realise this post has become quite lengthy, so I’ll try and wrap this up shortly!

Well, my next plan, and quite possibly the biggest thing I’ve ever done, is that I’m going to Thailand in October to teach English for the next five months of my life. I’ve never been to South East Asia, and I don’t know what to expect, but I know that I don’t want to sit around at home, when I have the opportunity to do some travelling, and to get some valuable experience. I’m really excited, a little nervous (obviously), and I have a lot of work to do when I get home such as sorting out visas and getting vaccinations.

I definitely think that doing something different like this will be what I need after a year that has, so far, been somewhat average? I think it’s common after you’ve had an amazing year, the next has a lot to live up to and so you can be left feeling a bit meh. 2018 was absolutely one of the best years I’ve had in a while, and I think since 2019 has mostly been the year of me working full time, I’m bound to want something more, so here’s hoping that this will be what I’m looking for.

And with that, I really must bring this now lengthy blog post to an end. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and I’ve decided that when I’m away I want to write more frequent updates of life in Thailand, what it’s like teaching there, and that sort of thing, so let’s hope I actually manage to do that!

-Janet

Let’s Get Real…


Hey everyone!

I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while but I’ve been so stressed and worried about everything else I’ve got to do, that I just haven’t had the time or energy to write very much on my blog.

Basically, post graduate life is hard. It’s one of those things where you’ve got so used to living in your bubble for so long, and all of a sudden you’re out on your own in the big wide world, and it’s easy to feel so lost and alone. I just didn’t realise how quickly I’d feel like this, and how often I’d feel these things.

I live with three other friends who I’ve known throughout my time at university, and they’re all still part of the university bubble as they’re doing their masters, so of course I have people to talk to and socialise with. But at the same time, I’m the only one in my house who’s doing the real adult thing, and I’m sure my housemates get it, but they’ve not been through it yet, and sometimes I find I just don’t know who to talk to.

Today I had my last day working as a care assistant, and I’m not going to lie, sending in my resignation letter was a mission in itself. Last week I was so stressed trying to sort out so much, even the thought of sending in my resignation caused me stress. It got to the point where I just felt sick all the time, I didn’t really want to eat and when I did I didn’t feel great, and I felt like I wanted to be on my own when I really needed to talk to someone. But I just didn’t know what to say because I didn’t know what it was that I was thinking, or worrying about, or what the other person would say as a response.

I’m good at overthinking, but this was a whole new level. I’m glad that my job has now come to an end and I’ve got new and exciting things on the horizon, but sorting those out is equally as stressful because they’re all coming up so quickly, and now it’s just a case of me getting my butt in gear and getting organised. Today, after I finished my last shift, I sat with my housemate and had lunch, and then I tidied my room. It’s like they say, tidy room, tidy mind, right? I’m not sure how much I agree, but that in itself made me feel more productive and a bit better, and I was then able to start on all the forms and paperwork I need to fill out for numerous things.

There’s still a lot to do, and I’m feeling better about it all. But I can’t say I’m really happy right now. I’m struggling, but that’s okay. Because I know that things will get better… at least, that’s what I’m telling myself! The main thing I’m excited about now is that I will have weekends off, I’ve got a holiday in about a month and a half, I’ll be getting more and more teaching work, and of course, I’m going back to America this summer, and I’ll be going to Thailand at the end of the year. There’s a lot of things that I’m excited for, and I think I just need to get out of this “dark patch”. I feel like I’m now starting to work towards what I want to do rather than just working to pay my rent and bills.

Sorry about the rant, but I think it was needed. I just had to get my thoughts out. So, if you made it to the end… congrats! Now treat yourself to a glass of wine and a face mask. That’s what I think I need.

-Janet

Two Weeks of Teacher Training


Hey everyone!

For the past two weeks I have been busy working on a teaching course, which will allow me to (eventually) go out into the big wide world and teach English as a second language. I never thought I would actually become a teacher, but now I’m halfway through this CertTESOL course, it’s looking more and more like a reality everyday.

I’m doing my course through the Lewis School of English in Southampton, and I could not have asked for better tutors and peers. Everyone has been so supportive these past two weeks, and with two more weeks to go, I know that their support will be appreciated even more as we get onto the graded teaching practices, and submitting final assignments.

In week one, we were introduced to general teaching concepts and techniques, we started to learn Portuguese, (learning Portuguese in a course that’s teaching you how to teach English? What? Don’t worry, I’ll get to that later!) we had to find a student to work with for one of our on-going assignments, and had some form of homework to do every single night. For someone who likes being ahead of the game and being organised, being given homework the day before it’s due in every single day for five days was stupidly stressful for me, and this was something which took me a while to get used to. However, once I got into the swing of things, it became routine and though it wasn’t exactly easier, I got used to how things should be done.

For one of our assignments, we need to understand what it’s like for students who are learning another language completely from scratch, and this where the Portuguese lessons come in. It’s essentially a way for us to be in our students shoes, and experience language lessons where the teacher only speaks in the language you’re learning, and nothing else. This was exciting, and very different to how I’d learnt languages in the past, because at school my teachers all spoke English and the language they were teaching, so it was so much easier. I love learning languages, but I didn’t realise just how hard it would be when the teacher doesn’t speak your language! Just don’t ask me to recite any of the Portuguese I learnt… I can just about count up to 20, and name you a bunch of fruits.

It was nice to have last weekend off, to chill out and have some much needed rest. I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody with my housemate, which was just a perfect way to spend the evening, and not have to worry too much about homework as I had done a significant amount of it during the day, so I could allow myself to have the evening off. This weekend has proven to be very different, but again, there’ll be more of that later…

Then Monday came along and week two really started off with a bang. It was our first time having any kind of teaching practise, and it was so daunting knowing that we would actually be teaching. All of our lessons last week were just so we could get used to talking and teaching in front of a group of students of all different levels, so we could see how to teach each group, and how our lessons should be structured. This was both easy and hard for a number of reasons. I am used to being on stage and having a group of people watching me, so I wasn’t nervous to talk in front of a group of people. What I was nervous about was how to actually teach, and whether or not my lesson plan would be effective or not. Let’s just say, by Thursday I reached a point where I genuinely thought I was going mad, and I don’t think I was the only one!

Last week was really difficult, especially towards the end. Though everyone in the group was still so supportive, I was really starting to feel the pressure, and me being me, I was putting a lot of that pressure on myself when I really didn’t need to. I like things going to plan, especially when I’m supposed to have planned said plan, and quite a few times, my lessons weren’t perfect. This was hard for me because I thought I’d planned them out so well, and with so much detail, but some areas weren’t as good as I thought they’d be in practise. However, the point of last week was just to get used to teaching, and we weren’t being graded on anything, so we were allowed to go wrong, and that was okay.

I just don’t like things going wrong, so for me, it really wasn’t okay, but my tutors told me they think I’m doing just fine, so in theory, there’s nothing for me to worry about!

And that brings us to this weekend, and what’s still to come. Next week we start teaching hour long lessons rather than 30 minute lessons, which in some ways is even scarier, but at the same time, it’ll be easier because at least I won’t feel the need to rush anything. And we’re only teaching twice next week and twice the week after, so we’ll have slightly more time to plan things and do work, rather than teaching on 4/5 afternoons! I don’t really know what to expect from next week, and I’m trying not to let the fact that it’s being graded worry me too much. There’s a lot we need to include in each of our lessons this week but again, we have an hour to do everything so I’m sure it’ll be fine!

It’s been tough, and there’s been a lot of work, and I’ve probably used about a dozen trees through printing out all sorts of materials for lessons… but I’ve loved every second of it. Well, almost. I didn’t enjoy Wednesday night and most of Thursday, but that was the point in the week when everyone was going slightly delirious so I think that feeling was probably felt all round… So far, I’d give this course a solid 9/10.

If you’re thinking or have been thinking of doing a course like this, I would definitely look into it, because I couldn’t recommend it enough! It’s intense, but so worthwhile and I know that this will open so many doors and allow me to take on so many opportunities once I’ve completed it.

-Janet

Where Have I Been?


Hey everyone!

I hope you’re all well. I have to firstly apologize for my lack of posts this past month. October was crazy busy and I really don’t know where the time’s gone to be honest with you.

As you know, I’ve started a new job and that’s taken up a lot of my time. When I’m free, all I want to do is sleep, go out with friends, or just go out for a walk or a swim or something. Blogging hasn’t been at the top of my list of priorities, if I’m being completely honest. I’m not sure why, because I think September was a pretty good blogging month for me and then all of a sudden I just lost all motivation for it. But, November is here, it’s the start of a new month, and I want to try and make more effort.

I feel like I keep saying that when it comes to my blog…

I also had my graduation on the 19th October, and I did film some clips for it, which I will hopefully make into a vlog when I can get some software to edit on. But for the time being, that will have to wait. I absolutely loved Grad Week, even though my graduation itself was on the Friday and I was working the first half of the week! It was one of the best weeks I’ve had this year so far, because I got to see all of my friends again, and it was a week where I could just party and let loose and be a student again, and I loved every second of it.

I met Alan Titchmarsh on graduation day as he is my university’s chancellor, so that was pretty cool! My feet were killing me by the end of the day because I wore the same pair of heels for a combined total of 14 hours (I think… it was painful to say the least) and the next morning I could barely walk because my feet still hurt! But it was definitely worth the pain because I honestly had the time of my life and I would happily go back to that day in a heart beat.

I met up with a few friends over October when I had spare time, I went out for meals, coffee, and a spontaneous trip to IKEA, as well as having a Bridget Jones marathon as well, but apart from that I really didn’t do much apart from working. The joys of adult life, am I right?

Yesterday I went into London to meet up with some of my favourite bloggers, whose links I will leave at the end of this post. We’d been planning it for a few weeks, and the time just seemed to fly by between when we first started discussing this trip to London, and the day itself. We met up at Waterloo station, and then eventually decided on where to eat. We really didn’t have much of a plan, other than “let’s meet at Waterloo”. Then we wandered around some London parks, and soon enough it was getting dark and we had to head our separate ways. It was a lovely day, and there are talks of another meetup in the near future… (potentially for Winter Wonderland, which would be fab!)

And as of tomorrow, for the next four weeks I will be training to become a qualified teacher of English as a foreign language which is really exciting! I am both terrified and excited to get started because I’m up for a challenge and to do something different, so this will definitely tick both of those boxes. It’ll be hard because of the workload, and also because I’m not earning much this month as I have had to take time off for this course, but again, the joys of adult life, am I right?

I will try and write more regularly, at least once a week, I’m even considering doing Blogmas again this year, which will be interesting trying to fit all the posts around my job… (I’ve got a spread in my bullet journal with ideas for this so I’m taking it very seriously!)

That is all I have time for today! Make sure you check out the lovely bloggers I’ve linked below- it was amazing having a mini blog meetup in London, and they’re all amazing humans who have incredible blogs, so make sure to send them some love!

-Janet

Kel

Megan Elizabeth

Em

Eve

My Experience Working in Care


Hey everyone!

Can you believe we are already in October? I honestly have no idea where the past nine months of the year have gone, but they have absolutely flown by and it’s freaking me out just a little bit…

As you may know, I’ve started a new job, and I’m working as a care assistant. I had five full days of training, three days of shadowing, and as of last Monday I was let out on my own to provide care for those who need it. The reason I chose to go into this particular line of work was to get experience in health care work, because I eventually want to go into speech and language therapy, so I need to start somewhere!

So far, the three words I have used to describe this line of work are tiring, hard, and rewarding. I was thinking of using “stressful” but to be honest the work itself isn’t stressful. I just get stressed if I’m running late for my next customer because I hate being late for things, and I hate that I’m making someone else wait for me. But it comes with time, and even after a week I’m already getting more used to the allocated times for each customer, even if I do run over by five or ten minutes.

It’s not the most glamorous job in the world, and I have had a few people who seem really surprised when I tell them that this is what I’m doing now. Maybe because for most of my time as a student I wanted to go into journalism or publishing, and now I’m not wanting to do either of those things. I know I won’t be doing this forever, and for the time being, it’s both something to get by as well as important experience for my future goals.

From my first week alone, I can tell you honestly that I don’t love this job, but I don’t hate it either. I wasn’t expecting it to be easy, but I also didn’t really know what to expect. At this point in time, I working towards completing my three month probation, so I think when it gets to the New Year, that will be when I decide if I want to continue working in care for a while longer, or if I should change my path. I want to give care work a chance. I was ready to take on a challenge, and this has most definitely been a challenge. I have very early starts, and get home quite late, which was hard to adjust to, but once I get started it’s really not too bad.

You may remember that I have applied for a teaching course which will begin on the 5th November, and that is a month long, full time teaching course to teach English to those who don’t speak English. I am thinking that if I can get a job out of this, I will probably take it, because then I will have had a good couple of months to figure out whether care work is really for me. But I’m not going to get my hopes up because I really don’t know what will happen in the next few months, so for now I’m just going to take it day by day and see what happens.

Generally, my customers have been lovely, and I know that when I do eventually move on to the next thing, it will be hard to say goodbye to some of them, because even in this past week alone I have formed relationships with them. But I keep reminding myself why I am doing this work, and it is merely a stepping stone into the career that I want to go into.

That is all for today’s post, and I hope it was interesting for some of you to see what I’ve been getting up to! I’m sure I’ll keep you all updated with things like my graduation (which is in just over two weeks time!!!) and the teaching course, so make sure you stick around!

-Janet

I’ve Got Tonsillitis!


Hey guys!

If you follow me on social media, this will be no big surprise to you, but on Thursday I was diagnosed with tonsillitis! Yaaaay! This is also kind of why I’ve been a bit distant from the blog recently, because I started feeling kind of unwell on Tuesday evening, then it really hit me on Wednesday, so apologies for that!

I’ve never had tonsillitis before, so before I went to the doctor I had no idea what was wrong with me- my glands were swollen and it hurt whenever I swallowed (so eating and drinking and even yawning is painful… so is sneezing actually) but my lower back, hips and legs were aching so much and I was just a pathetic mess feeling sorry for myself for two days.

It probably didn’t help that I had work on Wednesday and I was out the house for a good six hours, so I couldn’t go to the doctors then. Then on Thursday I was moping around the house not knowing what to do with myself, until I messaged my mum to see if she could work some miracle and diagnose me over Facebook messenger. (That doesn’t work by the way.) From what I was telling her, she suggested it might be the flu and to call the doctors ASAP. If you know me well (or follow me on Twitter) you’ll be aware of how stubborn I am when it comes to being ill, and I don’t like calling the doctors or taking paracetamol unless absolutely necessary- or when my mum tells me to do it.

So I finally got an appointment with the doctor after waiting for fifteen minutes- yes, fifteen minutes for them to actually answer the phone, but they kind of made up for it because they had a cancellation at 4pm and I could book an appointment for that time, so at least I could go to the doctor on the same day, and it’s lucky I did! There was me thinking it was just the flu or something that would pass, and a few hours later the doctor told me I had tonsillitis… at a push, glandular fever…

So I’m on antibiotics until December 3rd, so a week today will be my last day on antibiotics (hopefully) and then this WILL* be gone and I will be better and I can do my work and other things that are all due in in two weeks… so that’s just great!

*If it’s not gone away by next week I’ll be very annoyed*

Luckily, apart from my throat, I don’t really feel ill. I’m more tired than I normally am, but I’m not sure if it’s just the illness, or a mix of that, the antibiotics, and being in my third year at university… I feel like it might be a mix of all three… And another bonus was that the day after I went to the doctor the aches all went away, and I hadn’t even been on the antibiotics for 24 hours by this point so I was quite surprised that it went away so quickly. But I’m glad that’s gone, because I don’t think I could handle having even more pain!

So yeah! There’s a fun update for you all, I hope you enjoyed this post and I will see you soon! (Also make sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel- links down below!)

-The Storyteller

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