Update on me – May 2012

Update on me – May 2012

The month of May is nearly over! At the beginning of the month I gave you an overview of what I was going to do and now I’d like to reflect on the things I’ve done this month and also my general well-being. This month promised to be busy and it was. So busy that I even had to make sure to step on the brakes just a little. Just a bit of a heads up before you start reading: it’s a long post!

At the end of April I wasn’t doing very good. The combination of my busy job, uni classes, a uni resit AND the job application process ended up being a bit too much. However, the first week of May was a vacation, which left me with plenty of time to rest up and get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, due to my being tired and feeling out of it, I didn’t attend the Band of Skulls concert. I simply wasn’t up to traveling to Amsterdam to see them. The rest of the vacation was thus spent quietly with sleeping, shopping, a visit to the hairdresser and some visits to my physiotherapist as my back muscles decided to jam up again.

The rest of the month was great. I had a bit of a relapse during the Ascencion Day¬† weekend, but now everything is just fine again. I had friends over for dinner, where I made pancakes and the most delicious cheescake. I went to Antwerp for the first time in my life and my parents came over to visit me and I now have an amazing new desk chair. It’s all executive looking and super comfy. Apart from that I have been enjoying the nice weather we had over the weekend, I went to a 1920s party, had a BBQ with some friends, went to a birthday, read a book for the first time in months and I did go to three other concerts.

The first one was by Perfume Genius. They make dreamy melancholic music that you should just sit down for and listen to. The location of this concert was amazing. It was in De Duif an old renovated church in Amsterdam. It wasn’t a long concert. After about an hour I was outside again, but despite the short length it was amazing. The location definitely added to the atmosphere and made the music really come to life.

Another concert I went to was Tim Christensen and the Damn Crystals (TC/DC). I already wrote about TC/DC before as I have been raving about their album quite a bit. The concert was quite long, nearly 2 hours, but that’s because this band has been around for quite a long time. They played plenty of songs from their latest album, but mixed it up with some older songs. I really liked an older song which was called Time is the Space Between Us. Earlier in the day, the lead singer played a few songs in an acoustic set in my local record store so I also checked that out. Overall it was great music: fairly polished rock songs with a raw edge to them.

Tim Christensen & The Damn Crystals @ Paard van Troje

I had another concert last night: White Denim. This is a concert by a band of which I only know one song. I have one of their albums and I liked that but I haven’t listened to it enough to really know the music. I was therefore curious what they would do. As I am writing this before the concert took place, I cannot say anything on whether I liked it or not.

Lastly, work has been kind of crazy lately. Students are begining to feel the end is near and so some have started to panic. So my schedule has been filled to the brim with students wanting feedback or extra tries for final presentations. Luckily there are only a few classes left and then it’s time for exams which means grading. But I won’t have a tight schedule which I have to stick to, so that will make life easier.

University is also coming to an end for this year. In fact, I will have my very very last class this afternoon. Scary idea when you think about it. All I have to do is write two papers and then I can work on my presentation for the symposium in Berlin in August. And then I hope that I will have already worked enough hours on that paper to have finished my research training, which would mean that I only have my thesis left for next year. A whole year for writing a thesis should be enough don’t you think?

In a way I’m glad May is over, but I am also a bit sad as June will mark the end of a lot of things for me. But I have plenty of fun stuff coming up with more concerts, friends, work and school. All I know is that I will be keeping busy. How about you: what have you been up to?

Back to the drawing board…

Back to the drawing board…

You may have already picked up on this, as I alluded to it in a previous post and wrote about it on Twitter as well. The latest update on my life is that after this school year is over, I will not be working anymore at my current job. On Wednesday I was told that I will be let go due to insufficient budget to give me a permanent contract. This means that I am looking for a new job starting in August/ September as of right now. In other words: it’s back to the drawing board for me and I have already started looking for new employers.

Source: weheartit.com

As a matter of fact, I already went to two job interviews in the past week. The news of being without a job in a few months didn’t hit me unexpected. I knew since the start of the school year that I could be told that I would be let go some time this year. I also knew that I wasn’t going to sit around and wait with applying to jobs until my management team gave me a definitive answer. That is why I’ve been scouring application websites for months now and finally interesting jobs have started to pop up. I have already been getting back into the swing of writing letters and applying to jobs and slowly but surely this has started to pay off. Apart from the two places I visited in the past week, I also sent out a letter to another one and I’m really hoping that either one of these will work out.

I am not all that worried that I won’t be able to find anything. There is a shortage of teachers in the Netherlands to begin with and there’s a few subjects where the need for teachers is the biggest. With English being one of those subjects I know that I could have a different job tomorrow if necessary. Of course I would like to try to find a job that is at least similar or a step up from what I’m doing right now. As I still have a few months left I am focusing on finding that first and if all else fails I already have a few ideas on how I may even be able to work as a freelance teacher or go back to teaching secondary school. I’m hoping it’s just a matter of time before I find a cool new job. My contract expires in August, so I hope to find something before the summer vacation in July.

Teaching jobs are my main focus during my search. Jobs in different fields are not applicable because I am restricted by a grant which I receive for doing my Master’s. There is a special grant for teachers who would like to go back to school and one condition I have to fulfill in order to keep on receiving the grant is to work in education for at least one year after graduation. Since I hope to graduate some time next year, I would need another teaching job for at least another 2 years. Of course, if I find something I really like and where I can stay on, I may want to do it for longer than that.

Again, I’m not torn because of this. The only thing that ‘bothers’ me is the fact that I really feel like the school where I work right now is perfect for me. We have a lot of freedom to think about teaching and what it is we would like to do and I know for a fact that is something that isn’t always the case. I like the job. I like my colleagues. The cooperation within my team is good. The students are great and I feel that this year I have really found my niche within the organization. It would take time to find that again in a new job, not to mention the fact that I will leave a considerable gap where I work now. I was appointed team leader a few months ago and now they will have to find someone else again.

One thing I know for sure is that I will miss the place. I really enjoy teaching there and I would have liked staying on for a few more years to gain some more experience in team leadership. However, it obviously wasn’t meant to be. The news is slowly making its way to my colleagues and most of them really feel for me. I just hope that I will be able to find something in the next few weeks. Most teaching jobs are put on the market in April/ May and that is when most people start looking for teaching jobs. I hope to find something before everyone else starts looking and I hope to find something fun and challenging too.

So, if you are in The Netherlands and know of any places where they need teachers of English, communication skills, communication theory or anything else that seems interesting: then please keep me in the back of your head.

Back to work & update on me

Back to work & update on me

So today is a break from all the travel logs and my life will be back to it’s boring normal self as work is starting again. Since this vacation is now over, it’s time to get back on track and since I have quite a few things coming up, I thought it’d be fun to write a post about it.

As I mentioned work starts back up today and this week will be the first full week of teaching classes, going to classes at uni as well as a bunch of meetings and course work that I still have to do. In other words: it will be busy and the same goes for next week. In fact, next week will even be busier as on March 10th the school I work for has another open day and since I help organize that these next two weeks will be mayhem if it’s anything like in November.

Uni work is also starting to become more intense now as our assignment is well under way. Today I will have to transcribe a one-hour interview and hand it in as soon as I can. I just hope I have enough time to do it else I might have to continue working on it on the train AND tomorrow morning. See the thing is: I don’t only have to write down what is being said word by word, but I also have to code the entire thing. And this is also something I’ve never done before so I’m praying that I can get it done on time.

I also have plenty of social engagements coming up: birthdays, visiting friends, my mom will drop in a few week time and my mom and I will be going to the ballet. Swam Lake to be exact. It’s the Dutch National Ballet’s anniversary and to celebrate it they are putting on a number of classic ballet performances. Swan Lake is one of them and my mom has always told me how much she would like to one day see Swan Lake and she decided to ask me to come along. Now, I’ve been to the ballet before, but I’ve never been to a famous one like Swan Lake. So I’m totally excited about that.

On another, more personal, note, I am actually doing really well. Since this time uni isn’t overly busy as I’m not taking too many classes, I want to get out more and be more social. I find I have more time to just chill and watch some TV without my mind working on overdrive. I have met up with friends who I hadn’t seen in ages and I have more plans in the weeks to come. It feels good to be hanging out with people again and I can now tell how much of a toll it has taken to combine work and my studies. Luckily for me this is the final semester where I’m actually taking classes so after summer I am hoping it will be less time consuming.

Health wise I’m also doing great. I found out a few weeks ago I do not have a gluten intolerance. Yet, after eating carbs for one week straight as it was vacay and I didn’t want to spend walking around all of London to find a suitable food place, I can feel the effect it has when I do eat them. Needless to say: I feel much better without them. So today I’m back to being a good girl and will be more careful about what I eat. My hayfever is not acting up as much yet, but I’m curious to see what the next few weeks will bring. Spring is almost here so now is the big test to finding out whether all those shots have actually helped.

All in all, I’m in a good place: the weather will soon turn nicer (hopefully). I had a great time in London. I have plenty of good things to look forward to and some of my applications for jobs have granulated into actual invitations for interviews. Next week I’m having my appraisal interview so then I hope to find out whether I can stay at my current job yes or no. All in all, the next couple of weeks will be busy, but good.

What are your plans for the next couple of weeks?

Quick update on me

Quick update on me

No blog for 3 days on end. I think the last time that happened I had come down with the nastiest case of bronchitis in history. This time it is nothing that serious. I was just busy with uni, work and social stuff which left me with no time (or energy) to get behind the computer and write something here. Fortunately, I will have Christmas break soon enough which will make for some more time to blog. For how long? That remains to be seen.

Source: weheartit.com

First of all, I had an exam on Online Marketing on Monday. I think I did okay. Okay enough for a pass anyway. I didn’t get as much time to study for it as I’d liked as I spend the entire weekend feeling out of sorts because I was soooo tired and just kept falling asleep over my study materials. Not handy, but I think I managed okay in the end. Let’s just hope I did!

Secondly, I had an outing with my colleagues where we went to dinner with (nearly) all of the people in the first year student team. That was a lot of fun, but again, quite exhausting.

The icing on the cake must be some developments at work. I haven’t worked out the specifics just yet, but I may be getting a new task starting in the new year. I can’t and won’t say too much about it as nothing has been decided definitely just yet and you never know who may be reading along on blogs. I will surely post it on here once everything is clear for me and I know what’s going on exactly.

Today will be my last day of work and after that I will have a 2+ week of vacation ahead of me. My first point on the agenda for that: going to the hairdresser’s to get my hair cut & colored. So be on the look out for some piccies on that soon.

Q: How’s everyone else been?

How do I stay focused

How do I stay focused

With a busy life like mine, you have to stay focus. You lose focus and things will not work out. It’s not only important to focus on what you have to do and when, but it’s also important to focus on the task at hand. Here’s how I organize my busy life and stay focused!

1.) Agenda, notebooks, post its

I keep an agenda, a notebook and I use post its to keep track of what I’m doing. Appointments, classes, meetings etc. are in my agenda. Ideas for blogs are in a notebook and to do lists, wish lists and things like that are on post its as I can throw them out the minute I’m done with them. My agenda is by Moleskin and I love it! One page has the week and the page facing it has lines. That way I can write down my work and uni schedules on the right and my appointments and meetings on the left. Works like a charm!

2.) Switch off your phone

Not entirely, but switching off the sound of your phone will help to keep you sane. That way you can check your phone for messages when you want to and you cannot be disturbed by messages popping up all the time when you’re trying to do something that requires all of your attention. You can only stay focused when you stay in charge of your processes for work, studying etc. If you’re disturbed too much you will not be able to get anything done. This works for me anyway.

3.) Listen to music

I don’t know about you, but I can focus a lot better while listening to music. I simply need something that will eliminate other sounds when I’m trying to work or study. I live right in the city center, which means it’s always noisy and I also like it on trains: it allows me to cancel out people’s conversations and I can really relax. I even brought my own set of headphones to work so I can use it when I’m at my desk. Working with 7 other people in one office is all fine by me, but when I’m reading articles, grading papers or w/e, I need to be able to focus on just that.

4.) Stay hydrated, well fed and well rested

This could very well be the most important: eat right, drink enough fluids and get plenty of sleep. I have experience with writing papers and studying for tests on a sugar rush, but it is only effective for a short time. Another thing is that you shouldn’t forget to eat or drink. I used to when I was busy. But now, I always try to take an actual lunch break at work, away from my computer. It’s a great moment to socialize with others and do something completely different for a little while. And sleep. Sleep is my holy grail. If I don’t sleep right everything just seems to go wrong: I forget things, am easily distracted and I get extremely cranky.

5.) Relax

If you want to stay focused, you should take enough moments where you can just chill and do nothing. There is nothing more deadly to focus than stress. Stress will make you rush, give you a feeling of unrest and this will effect the time and effort you are willing to put into your daily tasks. So take your time and do nothing from time to time, or at least do something completely different. Something that makes you recharge your battery and help you not think about whatever it is that you’re doing. I have a few ways to relax but I will write a post about that some time in the near future.

Q: How do you stay focused?