Wednesday, 25 January 2012

From 'Ciao' to 'Xin chao' - moving from Veneto to Vietnam

I spent all day on the Thursday relaxing on the sandy beach at Ca' Savio with a good book.  The temperature was a perfect 28 degrees, made pleasant by the breeze blowing off the sea.  The sky was a cloudless blue, the sea was warm and there were few tourists so late in the season.  My perfect day!

72 hours later, having flown via East Midlands, London Heathrow and Paris, I emerged from a crowded airport into the chaotic, noisy, rainy, sweltering, sticky city of Saigon, where it took me a good thirty minutes to secure a cab to take me the 40km or so to my hotel.  Once there, I would have a few, restless hours' sleep before starting my new job at the university in the new city of Binh Duong.   What had I been thinking of?  Why had I thought that this would be a good idea?!

That was four months ago now - four months which have been exciting, interesting, eye-opening, sometimes frustrating, but always enjoyable.

The move from Italy to Vietnam came about by chance - it certainly wasn't planned!  We knew we were ready to leave small town Italy with its accompanying small minded views, but Vietnam didn't even feature on the radar as we contemplated our future.  I had had a challenging, but rewarding summer at Rugby summer school.  It was my third summer there, my second as ADOS, but this time I ended up stepping into the role of DOS.  I enjoyed it very much and it spurred me on to study for my DELTA, so that in 2012 I could return to Rugby as DOS in my own right.  Having explored all the options, I decided on CELT Athens to do the course with Marisa Constantinides (@Marisa_C) because she has a great reputation and several of my colleagues have studied with her.   I figured that I could complete the course in a year and that, logistically, it was possible with Mark and I splitting our time and our work between Italy and Greece.  So it was that I applied for the course, completed the pre-interview tasks, had the interview and was accepted.  We then made all our plans based on spending the winter in Europe.

Unfortunately, at the eleventh hour, Marisa had to cancel the course due to a lack of suitable candidates.  I was left with no clue as to what we were going to do for the academic year 2011/2012 and we were already well in to September!  I realised that I was very late to be applying for jobs in Europe.  Searches on tefl.com proved futile on this front, but then something did catch my eye.  There were a few remaining vacancies for EFL teachers at a brand-new university in a brand-new city in Vietnam.  The advert was appealing and Vietnam had been high on our 'must-visit' countries list for a long time.  There was a problem, however, in that my Dad had been suffering with ill-health for many years and had recently been refused travel insurance.  I was worried about how he and my Mum would feel about us going so far away and them not being able to visit us.  I was staying with them at the time (my husband was still finishing his contract in Italy), so I went to talk to my Dad (my Mum was out).  He gave me his full support and assured me that he would clear things with my Mum.  With his blessing, I put in my application and by the time I went back to tell him it was done, he had already been online to find out all he could about Vietnam and Eastern International University, Binh Duong.  I will post about my very special Dad again very soon!

After that, things happened extremely quickly.  Merin, the DOS at the new university, contacted me within minutes of receiving my CV.  We set up a Skype interview the same day and he offered me a job.  The snag was that the start date was a mere ten days away!  There was so much to organise!  Luckily, I have a very supportive husband and family and everything that needed to be done was done.  I even managed to get back to Italy for a few days to see Mark - he would have to stay there for a few more weeks to complete his contract.

So began our new adventure, more of which you will hear about in the coming months.

From this........

....... to this!!!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

New Year, New Me?

I'm writing this on January 11th, 2012, so I guess I've already failed in my grand plan to implement changes in my life at the beginning of the New Year!  Still, it's not yet two weeks in, so I suppose my year starts now - 'better late than never' as they say!
What changes am I talking about, anyway?  Well, nothing major - no momentous shifts in direction.  I think all I'm hoping to do is to achieve three small goals:
  1. Make better use of my time
  2. Maintain better contact with friends and family
  3. Work on my professional development as a teacher
And I really have no excuse!  I'm now working in a job where I finish at 3.30pm Monday to Friday and have every weekend off, so I really should have time to do all of the things I've been putting off.  I can't play the 'I'm sorry, I'm just so busy' card now!

So, in practical terms, what am I actually going to do?
  • Go swimming at least once a week (we have a beautiful, outdoor, Olympic-sized pool within walking distance of our apartment, so what's my excuse?)
  • Go walking at least twice a week (there's a lovely landscaped park between home and the pool, so, again, what's the reason not to do it?)
  • Revive my blog and publish at least one post every week (I haven't posted regularly for several months, not at all since I came to Vietnam, so expect to see some retrospective posts at first!)
  • Reply to all those Christmas and New Year messages I received
  • Start studying for my DELTA (Marisa, I'm ready now!)
  • Take part in some online teacher training sessions (I've already started two of the EVO 2012 courses)
So, small, perfectly-achievable goals, which I've now put out there into cyberspace so there's even less reason not to achieve them ........... I'll keep you posted!!!!!