An alternative to paying for excess baggage.

me

‘Miss, your bag is 2kg over the limit. That’ll be £100’.

As if! My flight to Japan wasn’t starting out as the relaxing journey that I had anticipated. Despite flying with Qatar, a respected Middle Eastern airline they were extremely strict with baggage allowances, giving Ryanair a run for their money.

I was moving to Japan to live there for at least a year so I needed to pack some essential items. I have massive feet even for UK standards so I needed to pack a good supply. I also have crazy, curly hair so I needed to pack a diffuser hairdryer. Add that with all the smart suits I needed for teaching and 30kg just wasn’t enough luggage!

To avoid paying £100 so I had more money to spend on Sushi and Kawaii things in Japan, I decided to wear 2kg of clothes on the plane. As I clumsily floated through security wearing two extra skirts, two pairs of jeans and as many jumpers I could sling round my shoulders, I hoped I gave off the vibe that I was a stylish yet modest Amish woman, not a crazy mentally unstable eccentric.

I wasn’t going to let my fashion faux pas get in the way of my pre-flight tradition; a good old pint of Stella! As I made my way to my seat at the bar, a nearby woman looked visibly appalled as I peeled off my many layers so that I didn’t sweat to death.

Needless to say no-one sat next to me on neither of the two flights over….

 

pint

Organising a round the world trip is stressful!

view, mountains

Planning a round the world trip is not easy. In effect I’m leaving behind all that I have worked hard for all these years for the unknown. So many people have said to me ‘if it’s so stressful just don’t go’.
but I need to go!

Luckily there are books out there that go through the logistics of planning a career break, I especially found the ones by lonely planet helpful. I remember sitting in the garden last summer devouring every word in these travel books. It was a glimpse in to an unknown world, a world of mystery and independence. A world where anything was possible and I could follow my dreams.

it was all I could think about

This excitement phase lasted a good couple of months. Then when the enormous reality of planning for such a trip became apparant, I became scared and overwhelmed

Visas, passports, vaccinations, malaria tablets, shoes, clothes, sunscreen, travel insurance… The list of things I needed to get got longer and longer by the day.

I am also having to give up my lovely flat in Liverpool, somewhere I feel happy and safe. Give up the security of a job for a year. Not to mention the stress involved trying to cancel contracts and sort out bills! Sometimes it seems that no one has ever left the country for more than two weeks before!

But they have, many many more before me

It’s now 25 days before I leave. Less than 4 weeks! Luckily I have most things sorted but I still feel a little overwhelmed at the enormity of what I am about to do. I know that even though it’s scary I will love it and come back a better person. I’m so lucky to be able to take a year off from the rat race to do exactly what I want to do.

Even though it’s scary, I will do it and I will do it on my own

 

Teaching English in Candeleda

candeleda, view

So there I was, on a bus full of Spanairds and Anglos from all around the world on my way to a hotel in an isolated little Spanish town.

We sat Anglo-Spaniard on the bus. I was sat next to a very chatty Spanish man. Initially I wondered what the hell we would talk about but the conversation flowed easily and I was treated to a running commentary of all of the attractions in Madrid!

My very own Spanish tour guide!

Talking to someone who does not speak English fluently and with correct pronounciation for over two hours is hard. I actually had a headache by the time we pulled up to the secluded hotel in Candeleda that would be my home for the next week.

I was pleasantly suprised with the hotel, It was absolutely beautiful! It had a pool, lots of grass and amazing mountains that looked super-imposed in the backdrop. It reminded me of the Austrian Alps in the Sound of Music!

There was a bar area too. Yes!

pool, mountains, Candeleda

The amazing pool!

candeleda, mountains, view

The ‘Sound of music’ mountains!

In Candeleda the ‘Anglos’ purpose was to talk to the Spaniards in English. All day and all night. Every day was filled with ‘one to ones’, ‘two to twos’ and group activities. The Anglos talked with the Spaniards all day and corrected their grammar/vocabulary if needed  and helped them with their presentations. Although the worldload was fun it was also very tiring but it got easier as the week went on. At the end of the week I actually started to think in broken English with a Spanish accent!

During the week we had many social events too such as the Quemada, Discos,  a BBQ outside at sunset, watching the Real Madrid vs Barcelona match, team building activities, plays and even an excursion to a Bee museum… Yeah thats right, a Bee museum!

Looking a little embarrassed during a team building activity! Thats my Canadian friend Linda on the left!

We had a well deserved siesta time everyday for about an hour and a half. I used mine productively sunbathing by the pool and playing ‘basketball’ in the pool with my fellow Spaniards and Anglos, being ever so careful not to wet my red hair in the pool!

The evenings were spent drinking beer (purchased from a very hot barman…) outside in the little huts. I was usually one of the last to go to bed and I had some very in depth and amusing conversations with both the Anglos and Spaniards. I especially looked forward to the Spaniards’ dirty jokes!

The huts outside where we talked and laughed until the early hours

At dinner time on the last day

I had an amazing week at Pueblo Ingles, I met some amazing people and I went outside my comfort zone everyday, and loved it! I was able to be myself and my confidence increased tenfold throughout the week.

I enjoyed helping the Spaniards learn English and I realised that I would like to persue this at some point in my life!

On the last morning there were many emotional goodbyes after the graduation ceremony. Many people were even crying. I did not want to leave.

After Candeleda I was prepared to head back to Madrid and spend the remaining week in Madrid, exploring the various museums and art galleries.

Little did I know that the remaining week could not be any different…
During the number 2 party Giselle asked me if I would like to go on a road trip to Linares (a city in Andalucia: South of Spain) with her and Bev. The plan was to meet up with some of the Spaniards from Pueblo Ingles in their home town and attend the Feria (festival)!

Of course I leaped at the chance to have an adventure!
So the story continues…..

 

Have you ever volunteered to teach English? If so how was it? Did it inspire you too change your career?