Thursday, December 27, 2012

Goodbye to Books & The Cascades



Boxing Day is not a holiday we celebrate in the USA, but on this December 26th, I packed up two full duffel bags worth of books and donated them at a local book depository.  I noticed later that it was on behalf of a children’s reading program; I don’t think the kiddies will get too much out of Karl Marx or Emile Durkheim.   

That said, it was good to continue to pare down the library.

I’m starting to do some things here for “the last time.”  For example, 4 of the last 5 winters I’ve been here in Washington State, I have traveled up to the Upper Skagit River Valley to view the bald eagle migration.  Although I didn’t see as many this year as in years past (six of em; I counted), their majestic presence was no less impressive.

To think, six months from now, I may be making videos about elephants instead of eagles.  In fact, I had my formal telephone interview with the head recruiter at ATI and I think it went very well.  He informed me they had 20 applicants for 5 remaining spots in the program; I suspect that might have just been a sales line used to ensure my enthusiasm, but it may also be true.  I’m waiting to hear on my application’s final status. 

I recently upgraded my video editing software, and I’m still learning about it’s capabilities and interface.  So, there are a couple glitches in this video of my Boxing Day adventures.   Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Not Caring = Thinking Outside the Box



My upcoming move is consuming most of my waking thoughts.  Now that’s entered the next phase, in that I’ve obtained the resources to make it happen, applied for the ATI program in Thailand and have a specific date that I’ll be moving on, I can’t seem to dwell on anything else. 

This of course, changes how I feel about my present job.  Mind you, I am a dedicated worker.  I’ve been trying just as hard as I always do to perform my best at work.  Certainly, my sales numbers remain amongst the best in the district, but inside, my attitude has been altered.  

I want to leave my current job on good terms.  Who knows?  When I come back to the USA, I may want to work there again.  That said, I have been feeling a little freer to be myself at work instead of playing the role of consummate sales professional.  I’ve been doing stuff in regards to merchandising and utilizing our resources that I just feel need to be done without worrying whether or not they are “company approved” or whatever.  I then share my ideas and projects on the company intranet. 

Ironically, this has gotten me some attention outside my store as someone whose willing to “think outside the box,” and a real go-getter. Ha! 

For example, here for the holidays, I have done something to my uniform that is definitely NOT to dress code.  I figured, if I have to wear a red vest all the time, why not make it Santa-fied?!  Cut some strips of fake fur I got from the local fabric store into strips and pinned them on the hem of the vest.  



My co-workers think I’m nuts, and I thoroughly expected the store management to tell me to remove my modifications… but it’s been 4 days now and they’ve said nada!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Now, I'm Going to Thailand



My first real decision about how to proceed in this plan of mine to go and teach English overseas is to choose a school from which to earn a professional certificate to “teach English to Speakers of Other Languanges”.. AKA a TESOL certification.  Now, there are LOTS of sources out there from which to earn a TESOL certification.  I’ve found internet-only courses for as little as $180 that will grant anyone one of these necessary credentials.  Locally, the University of Washington offers a certification which when done on nights and weekends, would take me 18 months and cost over $3000. The former example is pretty much useless in the country where I want to go.  The latter is a bit overkill and more than I can afford anyways. 

Wait... Why can't I just Photoshop this image and put my name in it?
 
 It’s generally agreed  internationally that the ‘gold standard’ of certifications are the Cambridge University issued “CELTA” and the equally well regarded version of the same thing issued by London’s Trinity College.  Both of these British institutions offer these certifications worldwide, including a couple places here in Seattle, but they require 6 weeks to 3 months of full time education, i.e., you can’t have a job like mine and be able to be a fulltime student at the same time?  Not to mention that their tuition requirements are $1300 to $1700! 

Heh.. they didn't even spell "Center" correctly.


What to do? 

Looking closely at various teaching jobs in the country I want to eventually end up in, Indonesia, I see that the better paying jobs want you to have some kind of TESOL certification which incorporates at least 120 hours of in-class learning as well as a significant amount of in-person, real life experience teaching in schools.
120 hours at 40 hours a week is 3 weeks.  120 hours at say, 5 hours a week is 4 months…  I was hoping to find a course like the latter where I could spend a semester or so part-time and still be able to work.  

No such courses exist around here.  It’s either full immersion into the learning to teach or a useless internet certification that might get me a job in Korea or China (two countries notoriously desperate for English teachers) but not where I want to go…

I’ve found something better.  The 3-week 40 hour a week thing followed immediately by a teaching job in SouthEast Asia. I’ll get my TESOL certification with all the prerequisites for hours and in-class experience,  and immediately start earning experience that I can turn into a better job later. I won’t have to worry about how to mix working fulltime with going to school, nor struggle to figure out how to pay a month of USA expenses without income while I learn here.  

Best of all, I get to go learn my new trade in a little place called Phuket, Thailand. 



If you’ve not heard of Phuket (prounced FOO-ket, not fuck-IT, although the punning possibilities therein are endless), it’s one of paradises of Southeast Asia.  It’s the Bali of Thailand.  Beautiful beaches.  Laid back culture.  Very friendly people.  After completing my education on a BEACH SIDE resort in Phuket, I will be stationed at a yet-to-be-determined school in Thailand.  I could be teaching adults English, but more likely, children.  The pay is US $1000 per month during that latter period, and whereas I make that now every week, accommodations are paid there and the cost of living is significantly less.  You have to complete a one semester contract as part of this deal, which costs $980 up front, plus I gotta buy my own plane ticket (US $800). 
I’ve always wanted to see Thailand. Not only does this educational opportunity totally fit my needs as a modern working American living paycheck-to-paycheck, I should be able to leave there (if I want to) and move on to Indonesia after a year without having to have dipped into my financial reserves, and Thailand to Indonesia, heck, if I were going to Northern Sumatra, I could swim there!
The program in Phuket begins April 15th.  This shortens up my timeline significantly. Lots to do!  Lots to get rid of.

Oh, I might as well put this out there now, now that there is a definitive plan with this...  Would anyone like to adopt a wonderful, loving, independent, fluffy and mild mild mannered 6 year-old female kitty cat? 



Myanmar Motorcycle Epic 19: The Worst Road I've Ever Been On.

I work really hard on a video, and after 3 days, it gets 40 views. In this Myanmar tour, after 19 videos, only a couple of these vids ...