First Classes are always nerve-wracking. You want to establish a good rapport with your new students, yet you also want to it make clear your rules and expectations. After six months of post-CELTA teaching, I was finally beginning to settle upon a good routine for a First Class. I’d found an engaging introduction game on Teach-This.com that would satisfy my new students’ natural curiosity about me and also give me the opportunity to assess their English level. For lack of creativity, I’ve been calling it “Teacher Questions.” A quick run-down of how it works:
The draft of this post was written last Saturday night. I delayed posting it until I could finish and edit it.
Is it too soon into the reincarnation of the blog to post about something that’s just made me cry? Maybe–yet here I am, six hours before I have to wake up again to begin a 10-hour workday filled with some of my toughest classes. Instead of sleeping, I’m pounding away at the keyboard, telling myself to stop crying, it’s not worth it to consciously add all this stress to my life.
What am I talking about?
Teaching teenagers, of course.
Before each month I set three Goals for myself to complete by the end of the month. These goals are things that make me happy, that I’ve intended to do, but needed that extra little push to get started on. The Monthly Goals are not to guilt myself into doing administrative duties that I’ve been putting off; instead, they are to get me excited about pursuing actions that I believe will add to my life physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually.
In October, my three Goals are:
1. Sign up for Vietnamese lessons.
Why: One of my biggest regrets from my 13 months of living in South Korea was not setting aside the focus to learn Korean. Sure, it’s possible to get by with only English in most major cities in the world nowadays, but when you come into another person’s world, whether it’s only for a short visit or more long-term, it’s presumptuous to not try to learn that other person’s culture and language, at least a little bit. So far in my one month of living in Hanoi, I’ve met and befriended wonderful Vietnamese people. A genuine smile and a “thank you” goes a long way, but I feel like I can delve further by learning Vietnamese.
Actions to take: Look up organizations offering Vietnamese lessons. Study on my own time. Befriend locals and practice speaking Vietnamese with them.
Actions taken: At the end of September, I joined a Beginners class with Let’s Speak Vietnamese, which operates in a small cafe just down the street from my workplace! I’ve attended about three weeks’ worth of classes so far and have learned numbers, pronouns, essential phrases, and phrases of introduction. There’s a bit too much English spoken and not enough time to practice our own spoken Vietnamese for my taste, but I appreciate having a class structure to kick my lazy language-learning butt into gear. LSV also places a good amount of focus on pronunciation, which is arguably the hardest aspect of Vietnamese for foreigners to grasp. To add to that, I intend to connect further with some Vietnamese friends I have here, and practice speaking with them.
Excitement level: 5/5. I love that I’m actually getting serious about learning a new language!
2. Join a gym.
Why: I haven’t properly been in a gym since 2013. When I’m set a task, I work hard, but on my own I tend to revert to lazy inertness. I know that merely buying a yoga mat and doing ab exercises in my apartment will not suffice (because I’ll be too lazy to keep up the routine), so I need the added pressure of a gym membership and a singularly focused space to get myself moving.
Actions to take: Research gym offerings in Hanoi. Weigh cost vs. equipment/class offerings. Then set aside the time in my day to actually visit the gym and check it out!
Actions taken: So far, I’ve only researched gyms. *sigh* Hanoi’s Western-quality gyms are prohibitively expensive ($200-per-month membership, anyone?), which is why I really have to check out what’s within my price range. A few spaces look promising. My task next week will be to check some of them out and hopefully make a decision by the end of the week!
Excitement level: 3.5/5. The thought of having to listen to sales pitches and bargaining for a reasonable membership cost is a drag, but right now I have a lot of free time I can fill on weekdays, and I’m looking forward to being able to do yet another thing during that free time.
3. Start blogging again.
Why: Okay, blogging is inherently selfish, I cannot deny it. But I have words and thoughts I’d like to share, and I feel like blogging is one of the things I can do to keep up with my purported dream of being a writer. (HAH. I seriously have to work on that. #NovemberGoals…)
Actions to take: I’ve been planning this for a long time, but I didn’t want to do it in September, because I was already busy with moving and settling into Hanoi. I’ve got pages of notes, both on paper and on my phone, notes on blog names, possible posts, and more. So yeah, suffice to say that I have been thinking about it!
Actions taken: Well, you’re looking at it now!
Excitement level: 3/5. Sigh. I don’t know why I’m not more excited about restarting a blog. Maybe because blogging seems to have changed so much since I started six years ago. Now, there seems to be such an emphasis on the commercial success aspect of blogging, since, y’know, everyone and their mother has a blog, and the only way that your blog can be legitimate is to have a dozen ads, a steady revenue, and a stream of all-expenses-paid promotions. Ever since I stopped book blogging, I’ve been struggling to find a blogging space of my own again. Will this blog reincarnation be “it”?
So that’s it for me! Three goals per month to focus my energies and desire for self-improvement and self-fulfillment. I know I was a little late getting these goals posted up this month, but at the end of October I’ll reflect on my Goals and how they have affected me.
Do you set monthly goals for yourself? How do you motivate yourself to do the “big” things that you want to do in your everyday life?
Well, I hope to be.
After several attempts to maintain an updated travel blog, I think I shall have to give up on the idea. The thought of writing a travel blog feels, surprisingly, too constrained for me. It’s true that I love travel, and that in the past year I’ve made it a priority in my life. I’ve visited 13 new countries, completed a CELTA course in Budapest, spent time at home in the States with family, moved to a new-to-me country, met tons of new international friends, and become a new person. Travel is now a critical part of my life and personality.
But travel is not the only thing I love, nor is it the only thing I want to share with people.
I’ve been a bookworm all my life, and a book blogger for four years. I’m an aspiring writer–or I’d like to be, but it’s difficult to call myself one with conviction when I haven’t written in months. I’m an educator. I’m more.
I’m multifaceted, and I want a writing outlet that can reflect that.
I was going to accompany this post with a new blog URL address (another one, Steph? Told you I can’t make up my mind). But the one I’ve been thinking of for the past several months is, frustratingly, already taken. So I shall have to think about that more, but in the meantime I still want to start blogging again.
So here are some of the things I will be writing about here:
Wordless Wednesdays – To encourage me to explore my new home (oh, that’s right, I’m living in Hanoi, Vietnam now! Forgot to tell you that) through my camera lens.
Flashback Fridays – Pictures and/or stories of my previous travels. I have yet to review all of the thousands of pictures I took in these past 2-3 years of travel, and I hope this will stir me into action.
Bookish Thoughts – I may have stepped away from my book blogger days, but I’m forever a reader. I don’t want to give up writing about books forever, so these posts will be a way for me to reflect on my reads.
Bookish Travels – Visits to beautiful libraries and bookstores kind of became my modus operandi when I was traveling through Europe earlier this year. I’m going to merge my two passions into one blog feature and see where the combination takes me!
Travel tales catch-up – I’ve started some posts about my adventures that I never finished. I still want to share them, though.
Life in Hanoi as an EFL Teacher – I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about my new life in Hanoi: the ups and downs; the differences between Hanoi and other places I’ve lived; what I’m loving about Vietnam; thoughts on TEFL; etc.
Even the most casual of nature lovers can appreciate the beauty of Keukenhof–that famous garden in the Netherlands that is only open for two months in the spring and dazzles millions of visitors every year with its stunning display of flowers. Since I was visiting the Netherlands during Keukenhof’s prime weeks, there was no way I was going to miss out on seeing it. Continue reading