Sunday, May 28, 2017

Revive yo self, girl.


It's been a while. Life happened and I forgot to write it down. 

I read a book recently. One that made me think long after I finished. "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" by Elizabeth Gilbert. My most favorite author. 

This book was not a journey through Italy, India and Indonesia like "Eat, Pray, Love" was. Instead, Gilbert encouraged readers to think about what makes us happy and the importance of being open to creative ideas that she says swirl around the universe looking for a receptive human to bring them to life.

As I mentioned, this book got me thinking. Already, I know that I do not want to teach for the rest of my life. I know I need to come up with a plan to replace my existing professional path. So, I started thinking about what makes me happy. 

Writing is one of those things. Yoga, travel and photography also made the list. As I thought about writing, I was reminded of this blog that I started before moving abroad with the intent of chronicling my journey abroad and my travels. I felt an intense sense of guilt and remorse for all that I have not recorded and shared. 

Taking advice from Liz, I decided to breathe some new life back into this little 'ole blog.

Get ready, change is coming.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Stuff gets real

Good evening. So, here I am on Saturday, the first week of orientation over. I spent all week in meetings with my ES principal, learning about school procedures, calendar, events and technology. We met about the reading program Fountas and Pinnell and practiced coding running records. Supplies and furniture were dropped off in my classroom and technology was checked. I had an individual welcome meeting with the head of school and we had our first newbie staffTwitter session. Note: I need to get an educational Twitter handle going asap. After lunches this week, I got my temporary Hong Kong ID card, set up local phone service and bank account (cashing my first school check for relocation allowance). Mike and I explored Mong Kok (where my hotel was) and went on several apartment-viewing appointments across the city. We found one place that we were sure we were going to sign on Thursday in an area called Sai Ying Pun, but then decided against it after sleeping on it. The place was a clever studio with brand new renovations in a great neighborhood for HK$19,500/month (US$2,500/month), but did not have a great looking outside facade, was a walk-up (no lift), no live security and had loose wires hanging out in the stairwell.


You can see what I mean.

The search continues.

One last detail about this week was our scavenger hunt on Friday (the hottest day of the year with a typhoon coming...great). We were split up into teams and sent to Central, Wan Chai and TST to take group photos with our team flag. We saw minions and a bride along the way. We all ate an Indian meal together in Chunking Mansions and ended up at a pub called East Side Tavern in East TST and came home to take a massive shower. Mike and I moved into his hotel today (Saturday) and we're here for two weeks as our apartment hunt continues. Now, off to watch the rugby!

First day @ AIS!

God. How is it already the first day of school for me?! Three weeks for a teacher's summer vacation is too short. But no matter, because I love my school. Met the newbie teachers and my principal downstairs in the hotel lobby at 8:30 to ride the bus to school together up the road to Kowloon Tong. I feel lucky to be working with such a fantastic group of teachers, everyone is so friendly and NORMAL. The morning session at school took place in a meeting room with tea,coffee, water, juices, fruit and pastries. new teachers from ES, MS and HS were introduced along with our head of school and each school's principal through a game of bingo. Ice breakers to combat first day jitters really work, even for teachers! After bingo, Cameron Fox, our head of school spoke about AIS, its history, work ethic and hopes for the future in a compelling and non-intimidating fashion and we spoke in groups about similarities and differences we'd picked up on between AIS and previous schools we've taught in. At noon, we broke for lunch (SUBWAY!) and then headed off with the Newbie Committee teachers (Sophie, Meghan and Laura) to the Immigration Building to obtain Hong Kong IDs. I was told these IDs are necessary for almost everything when setting up a life in HK. And, although there was a line, I was given a ticket/form ahead of my appointment time, saw the appropriate people, rubbed thumbprints and took a picture very quickly and seamlessly. If I were somewhere else in the world, this experience would have been a nightmare. Ah-hem. So, after handing over my passport and showing my HK visa, I had a temporary ID printed out and in my hands in less than an hour. Check! The newbies made our way to CSL to set up phones and get local SIM cards. Luckily, my AD Iphone 5s was unlocked, so slipping the SIM card in was easy and I upgraded from 1 GB of data to 5 with unlimited calling minutes and SMSs (is that extra 's' necessary??) without paying any deposit. Boom. I was fortunate to have Gary (remember Gary? He's the fluent Cantonese speaker) sitting next to me, helping to translate. Here's where the day got a bit overlapped. Mike and I ended up being overbooked with two different realtors wanting to show us different properties in different areas at the same time. I was on island in Wan Chai and Mike was on Kowloon finishing up his HKID appointment (without his new SIM card yet). My newbies stopped in at this Mexican restaurant/bar called "Coyote," to have some drinks (so exhilarating to do this outside of a hotel) and I met up with one realtor to see two properties on island in an area called Causeway Bay. I met Mike after to see one property in Wan Chai. A few of the properties had aspects we liked, but were not the ones for us yet. We have two and a half weeks left in hotels, which everyone tells us is a TON of time in HK to find a rental property, so we're being picky and taking our time. More apartment appointments to come...

Sunday mornings

Woke up this morning without an alarm clock (!) around 8. We checked out our hotel gym (lacking a bit) and met two new teachers (Gary and Kelsey) for a late breakfast before our AIS-scheduled bus tour of the city. We chose a local place where Gary (an Australian-raised resident of Hong Kong) ordered all of our food and drinks  in fluent Cantonese (I had a ham and egg sandwich and yummy milk tea). Kelsey is the middle school art teacher and reminds me of my friend, Jill Beall. On the bus tour, we drove out to the new territories where there was lots of green hills and beautiful blue water, through Kowloon (TST), where the walk of stars resides and the IFC mall in Central. We met a girl called Emily, from Phoenix who taught in the Creighton district. Mike and I left the group to wander around Central, shared a burrito at a place called Little Burro and walked to the next metro (MTR) stop called Wan Chai. A teacher who taught in Abu Dhabi last year has transitioned to Hong Kong this year and has gotten set up in an apartment in Wan Chai with her husband, so we swung by to take a look. Afterwards, we popped into a realtor's office across the street, communicated our desires and saw our first few properties around the area. Made our way back to Mong Kok, Kowloon on the subway (MTR) and had food before walking back to our hotel. Because my shoes are packed away, I've been walking around in flat sandals and my feet are hating me! Need to go shopping on "Sneaker Street." Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I had a moment tonight when we got back to the hotel. I had to just pause and cry a bit. I was crying for my family and friends at home, over moving to a new place that I could barely find my way around and with anticipation of a new job that I so desperately wanted to succeed at. After a long, still hug from Mike I felt better. All night long I repeated his voice in my head saying, "Everything is going to be okay."

Monday, August 3, 2015

Middle East to the Far East

   There were a lot of Asians on our flight from LAX to SFO and from SFO to HKG: no surprise there. Instead of being inundated with Arabic, we are surrounded by Chinese; Cantonese or Mandarin, I can't be sure. People are chatty and polite, but oblivious. Any waiting or lining up is definitely not a priority. Moving quickly and sitting in their airplane seats takes a while. Mike is not amused so far. There is a large group of English immersion students on board with us, all wearing blue shirts. They look to be 13-15 years old. We are on a B747 with no seat-front TVs! I know. First world problems, but dang, thirteen hours with no individual TV? I have a radio in my arm rest (happily listening to "Whistle While You Work It" while passengers continue to board) and supposedly free in-flight wifi (would be a first) and isle TVs. I am sitting in a two-seat patch with Mike. He's window, I'm aisle. Across the aisle from me is a skinny Asian boy about eight with high water jeans and a fuzzy buzz cut who I've snuck smiles over to. Time to take off!
   We landed safely around 6 p.m. and we experienced a quick custom line thanks to our work visas giving us residency, luggage that came quickly and one right after the other and a smooth scoop up by two AIS teachers named Sophie and Meghan. They were so cute, holding up a yellow welcome sign with my name on it. They seamlessly put us on a bus to our hotel where we were greeted by a third AIS teacher called Laura, who gave me a welcome bag (with wine!, an Octopus card - for metro travel - travel adapter and more) and assisted us in checking in, where we collapsed on the bed in wonderment. Stressful transition? I don't think so! We later wandered out to explore and get food. Bed finally at midnight.

Revive yo self, girl.

Hi! It's been a while. Life happened and I forgot to write it down.  I read a book recently. One that made me think long after I fin...