27 January, 2010

Life in Progress

I don't really make resolutions, but i have 3 vague goals for 2010:
1. Get a job
2. Learn to drive
3. Learn German, enough at least to have a conversation

Number 1 is definitely in progress at the moment. The good news is that i've had three successful interviews & all three companies want to hire me. The bad news is that all three only hire freelance instructors (i'm looking to continue in the corporate Enlgish education field). This is probably because the benefits German companies have to pay their full-time employees are huge. Therefore, companies don't want to take on the responsibility of hiring their own trainers.
Also, i am starting back down the bottom of the teaching ladder. I'll be teaching seminar classes again, not in curriculum development or intensive training.
But on the more positive side, all three companies have mentioned other possibilities; for example teaching basic Japanese courses, running intensives, or becoming a cross cultural trainer. Also, as a freelance trainer, i can accept all three jobs & jigsaw them together.
So far, i have one confirmed class starting 10th February, but it looks like more will be coming soon.... I will finally be able to break free from the Hausfrau life!!

As for 2 & 3, not much progress has been made.
I am, however, in the process of changing my (unused) British driving license into a German one. No real need to do it (EU people can drive in EU countries), but i have no ID card for Germany, so i thought a driving licence issued here would be useful. Still, i need to learn to drive though....passed my test in 1997 & haven't driven since...
As for German, i have heard that there is the possibility of joining a government run intensive program (for free). Apparently, it's a nightmare to get through all the red tape (in German, which kind of defaeats the point - if you can do all the paperwork & bureaucracy in German, why do you need a German course?!) But a friend of mine knows a man who has successfully negotiatied the process, so i am going to pick his brain next week to find out if it is even an option for me.

And what else? The biggest & best news this year is that The German & I finally have our own place. And it came fully furnished, albeit in an old Italian lady kind of way (the former owner's choice of decor...) We even have a piano & the living room looks more like a salon for afternoon teas than somehwere to chill... It's in central Stuttgart, near a main road & tram but far enough away to be quiet. And we have a spare room, so guests are more than welcome. I will, hopefully, take some photos and upload them in the coming weeks.

And i had a birthday. My first German birthday & the birthday that officially marked me as closer to 40 than 30. Yup, i'm old(er). But i'm happy. 2010 is looking good!

04 January, 2010

2009: A Year to Remember

2009 - wow! So many things happened in 2009 that it seems pretty impossible to actually remember everything that occurred.
It was a year of many things & with many faces:

A Year of Travel
I opened the year in Britain and closed it in Egypt.
In between i went to Germany, Japan, France, Belgium, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia & Singapore; three continents & multiple time zones. So many beautiful places, lovely people & great memories.
I also moved from Asia to Europe, only to travel back to Asia again for 3 months.
My carbon footprint must be huge...

A Year of Change
This year i made a monumental leap of faith - giving up pretty much everything I had for a man, The German. I moved half way round the world, giving up my job, my home & my comfortable life.
Do i regret moving? Not for a moment.
Has it been challenging? Yes, but perhaps that was what i needed. Life in Japan didn't really present many big challenges, or not as major as living here.
Do i miss Japan? Constantly. I miss beers on the train home with Ian; I miss girly Friday nights with Lala & Aya; I miss my Saturday night Fat Mam dates with J-dad; I miss walking into Blue Corn knowing that I'd know someone there to chat with; I miss speaking Japanese; I miss my J-friends. But most of all, I miss Michael & Shingo - my family in Japan, my anchors.
But there are new faces now. My German family. My new German friends. And the wonderful reconnection with a friend from high school in Japan (also British, also with a German partner and, funnily, also called Helen) And not to mention being able to go & see my parents for a weekend.

A Year of Challenge
The year opened with the tail-end of the TB saga; the last two months of my course of antibiotics. I am happy to report that everything is still A-OK; no TB & my liver is back to normal again.
Lesson Learnt: never underestimate the power of antibiotics

I also managed to fracture a bone in my face which, unsurprisingly, scared the crap out of me. More surprisingly though, was the fact that it was the first bone i have (knowingly) fractured.
Lesson Learnt: don't drink lots on an empty stomach whilst jet-lagged & then try & sit on a bar stool

I moved home from Japan to Germany. For 12 years, i had lived in the same flat & had managed to collect a hideous amount of stuff (aka crap). I had to reduce 12 years into 2 cubic metres. It was a challenge, especially negotiating it all & arranging everything all by myself. But i did it.
Lesson Learnt: start sorting & throwing things out at least 6 months before moving

I overcame my fear of water & got my Open Water Diver Licence. I failed the first time, but i didn't give up & tried again more slowly. I am still nervous of the ocean, but now it is a healthy respectful fear rather than a crippling 'i-will-not-go-in-the-water-if-i-can't-touch-the-bottom' type of fear.
Lesson Learnt: Overcoming fears IS possible & remember to trust people when they tell you that you are doing a good job. And do it in baby steps, not forcing yourself too hard.

That was 2009. A huge year. Of course a lot more happened; some i don't want to write about here. And some things that happened aren't really my story to share, but 2009 really was a huge eventful chaotic year.

Let's hope that 2010 is less eventful, calmer but just as challenging.