I am on my way, after months of planning. I am writing this on my brother’s fabulous computer in Sydney, having flown out of Adelaide this morning. And the first thing I did on my big adventure? I slept all afternoon… Frankly, I was knackered!
What exactly am I doing? I am about to begin a teaching exchange in the UK for a year. I swap homes and schools with a UK teacher for the whole of 2005. This is one of the (few) perks of working for DECS, South Australia’s education department. It is regarded as a professional development opportunity, the idea being that you share what you learn on your return. I applied more than two years ago, and missed out on the exchange for 2004 due to the lack of potential exchange partners. I was offered this exchange in July last year, and confirmed the arrangements in January, so I have had all year to plan. Many exchange teachers have only 4 or 5 months to plan.
I am currently employed at a small country high school in Clare, South Australia. My new school, Woodlands in Basildon, Essex, is three times the size! I am really looking forward to reflecting on my practice as an English teacher and learning a whole lotof new ways of doing things!
My exchange partner, Jayne, and her family have just left and are spending a few weeks in New Zealand before arriving in Australia. I fly to London tomorrow night, arriving on the 28th, and starting work on Wednesday 5th January. At this stage it appears that I will not actually meet Jayne and her family, as at the end of the year I will have left the UK to begin a month’s visit to Nepal before they return. We have of course exchanged many emails and spoken a couple of times on the phone, so I feel I know them quite well. However my family and friends will get to know them much better than I will!
And how am I feeling at the moment? Well, mostly buggered to be honest. Far too tired to really acknowledge the significance of what I am doing… and perhaps it is just as well. It wasn’t easy saying goodbye to my parents this morning, and it was even harder leaving my dog behind! My wee precious Nancy, a 10 year old fox terrier-blue heeler cross (?!), has been well aware that something is in the air for a few weeks now, and is no doubt sulking and fasting in protest of my absence. However she usually does rally after a few days and I am sure will have a wonderful year with her doting grandparents!
I am hoping that this blog will be a record of not only my travel experiences but also a professional log of the many things I hope to learn teaching in a very different environment.
Sleep now beckons (again) so I will finish. Tomorrow I begin the day with a Jurlique facial and massage, a gift from dear friends who just moved to Nepal to work in a hospital, and who understood just how I would be feeling at this point, as they felt it too, only on a much more significant scale! Then in the evening it is off to the airport to begin the 25 hour trip to the UK…