Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Moving to England

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was offered a teaching job in England, which is why I’m currently living in Greater London. I got the big news on the 17th of November that I was due to start my training on the 5th of January. Wanting to have enough time to find a flat, I bought my plane ticket for the 27th of December, leaving me with less than a month and a half to orchestrate my move to the UK. 

First thing I had to do was to get my visa so that I’d be allowed to work in the UK. I visited the UK Visas & Immigration website in order to start the application process. I had to register an account, fill out the application, set an appointment to submit my application and supporting documents, as well as submit my biometrics (digital fingerprint scans). What was really frustrating was that there are only 4 full-time centres in Canada and 2 part-time centres. This meant that I had to fly all the way to Toronto for a 15 minute appointment. 

I had actually never gone to Toronto before and because I was just there for the day, I didn't really know what to do, so I basically spent the entire day walking up and down Bloor Street, drooling at the gorgeous shop and boutique windows. I went in early December, so everything was decorated for the Holidays which was quite amazing and very festive!

Once the appointment was done and over with, all there was left to do was wait. I was due to leave for the UK on the 27th of December and even with a rushed application, the whole process could take a few weeks, so I was quite stressed over the fact of whether or not I'd be getting my visa on time. Thankfully though, roughly ten days after my visit to Toronto, I had it in my hands. 

What came next? Finding a flat. I will tell you this right now: finding a flat in Greater London is NOT an easy thing to do from abroad. I spent days and weeks scouting websites such as Right Move and Zoopla, but every time I would ring agencies, I was told that the apartments had already been rented... even though they had just been placed online that very same day. After many unsuccessful calls and countless emails, Shane (who was doing the same thing from Ireland) and I decided to simply wait until were in England to look for a place. We figured we'd have better luck by simply walking into a letting agency and asking them about what they had available at that very moment. 

Finally, once the stress of finding a place to live was put to rest (for the time being), I had one last huge task to take care of... packing.  Now, I have packed what feels like a gazillion times in the past few years. With my many travels, and moving countries and all that, I was under the impression that I should be a master of packing by now. However, this time around, it was simply not working out. I am not exaggerating when I say that I worked on packing for over two weeks. I would pack everything, take everything out again, re-pack, change suitcases, got a new one... It was crazy! 

However, despite all the running around I had to do, the paperwork I had to fill, the packing situation I had to go through, I was able to get on that plane on the 27th to make my way to meet up with my fiancé (whom I had not seen in 8 weeks as he was home in Ireland!) at our new home. After about a month and a half of stress, I was finally able to take a breath of relief as I was heading towards a new experience, knowing that I had done everything that needed to be done. From that moment on, I was on my way to a new adventure and I could not wait for it to begin. 

Winning the race against the sun, heading to Toronto.
Beautiful Toronto in the morning.
On my way to London!
From inside an 18 passenger plane for the first part of the flight... So scary!
So close to Cork!
Go home plane, you're drunk!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Getting the job

All my life, I had one goal: to work and live in Europe. 

I first accomplished that goal at the end of 2012, when I moved to Ireland. My year and 8 months in that beautiful country has been the most amazing experience I had ever gone through. I made so many incredible friends, found the love of my life, and found myself. In Ireland, I am the one thing I wish to be: happy. 

Unfortunately, with the economy not being at its best, it is quite hard to find a well paying job, and it’s even harder to get a teaching job. First there are basically no full-time, permanent positions available. And second, to teach in primary schools, you need to pass a language competency test for the Irish language.

This brought me to a very difficult crossroad: do I give up my passion for teaching and stay in Ireland where I’m happy in every aspect except for my career, or do I give up my happy place and go back to Canada? I tried to think of a way to have both options that would keep me in Ireland while also teaching. I considered online teaching, teaching English as a second language, working in a creche, etc., but nothing felt right. My place is in the classroom of a primary school.

After months of browsing the internet for some sort of solution, I came across a teacher recruitment agency called UTeach. 

"Uteach teacher recruitment offers a comprehensive training, placement and support service to UK and overseas qualified teachers searching for teaching jobs in the UK. We match you with the right teaching job according to your needs and wishes, provide specialised training programs delivered by top head teachers in England and support you throughout your teaching journey.” - UTeach website

It did sound too good to be true, considering they pay for your flight over and help you find a flat and everything, but I decided to go ahead and sign up. Immediately, I was contacted by a lovely lady who simply wanted to know a bit more about me and my experience and the rest is history.

In early November, I got my first Skype interview with a primary school in Greater London, and a few days later, I was offered a job as a Year 4 teacher with a January start. 

Then came the whirlwind of paperwork to acquire a visa to be allowed to work in the UK, flights to Toronto to submit said paperwork, and running around to get everything ready for a fast move to England. (I’ll write more about the Visa application process in case any of you out there are thinking of doing the same thing). 

Then Christmas went by and a couple days later, I was off to London. I had a week to find an apartment (not an easy feat in London!) before I went off to Braintree for my weeklong training on the English curriculum. On the 12th of January, I was already in my new school. 

My experience with UTeach has been really positive. If you are a teacher thinking of teaching abroad, I strongly recommend contacting UTeach to find out where to start. At the moment, they only work with Canadian and Irish teachers, but if you’re from a different country, they might still be able to point you in the right direction.


For more information on the agency, visit their website at www.uteachrecruitment.co.uk 





Sunday, February 22, 2015

An engagement story

The 2nd of November 2014 was a cold, rainy, miserable day, but it ended up being the happiest day of my life. It was the day my Shane and I got engaged.

I woke up on that Sunday morning thinking it was just going to be another normal day, but I had no idea what was actually in store for me. Shane was due to fly back to Ireland two days after, so we were basically just basking in each other's company as much as we could. According to the weather reports, snow was to be expected that afternoon so he wanted to go out for a walk to experience Canadian snow.

During his 7 week stay, we had gone for strolls around a nearby lake to feed the ducks. There is a really nice spot with a gazebo and a floating quay where we'd go to give bread to the ducks that swam around. It was a calm and serene little spot where we both enjoyed spending time, so Shane wanted to go one last time before he left. 

Unfortunately, when we got there, instead of the snow he was expecting,, there was torrential rain and wind. And to his horror, the floating quay (where he was planning on popping the question) had been taken away! I suggested we come back the next day, but he was adamant on feeding the ducks. It was as if everything was going against Shane, because the few ducks that had braved the weather refused to even eat the bread we were throwing them. 

I hurriedly threw all my pieces of bread in the water as I was cold and soaked and I turned around to ask Shane if he was done when I saw him just standing there. He said “can I ask you a favour?” and then kneeled down and asked me to marry him. I was completely lost for words; I had no idea he was planning this! I started laughing and crying until he asked if that meant yes, after which I assured him it did. 

The next few minutes were a complete blur of hugs, kisses, rain and wind. I didn't care that it was raining and that we were both likely to catch a cold. All that mattered in that moment was that wonderful man in my arms, my fiancé.

Long story short: nothing went according to Shane’s plans. He had envisioned proposing on the floating quay while big, fluffy, romantic snowflakes fell around us. Instead, he got no quay, ducks that didn't even want to eat, wind and rain. But to me, it was perfect!


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Let's catch-up

It has been ages since the last time I wrote and I have really missed it! So much has happened since my last post last summer. A few big changes have happened in the past few months, which is partly why I want to start this blog up again. First of all, in August, I decided to go back home to Canada for a few months. I was to return to Ireland between Christmas and New Years, but a change of plan occurred and I got an offer to teach in a primary school in England. Now, instead of keeping you all reading for hours, and because a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll simply show you what I have been up to since last July.
Back in Canada, enjoying the warmth
Having food at my favourite restaurant with my bestie
Didn't even bother to brush my hair as I was just about to get it cut
It's all gone!!
After spending a month apart, my guy is finally over for a visit to meet my family
Turned 27
A bit of Halloween art
This year's costume... all done with liquid eyeliner!
I got engaged!!!!!
Saw snow for the first time in nearly two years!
My new FIANCÉ and I moved to England
Finally found one of these babies
London sightseeing
Big Ben
London eye
Off to Hogwarts I go!
Found a Canadian pub in the heart of London
and indulged in some delicious Canadian delicacy... a poutine!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dreams

Sometimes, things don’t turn out the way we planned… or wanted… or hoped. Sometimes, dreams are meant to be just that… dreams. Unfortunately, when dreams come true, there is always a chance that the reality of it will is just not be what you expected. I’ve been putting off telling people this because sadly, my dream vision of teaching in Europe did not reflect the reality of it and because of that, I was not prepared for the challenges and the pressures that involved teaching in a different culture and system. Because of that, I feel like I failed. Thankfully, I have an amazing fiancé and wonderful family and friends that have made me realise that what matters is not the fact that I was able to stay here in England until the end of the school year, but rather that I tried. I tried teaching and living in the UK and while it may not have been what I expected, it was certainly a learning experience, one that will definitely help me become a superb teacher someday! I tried and I know, now more than ever, that we are so extremely lucky to have such a wonderful educational system in Canada. Teaching in the UK has definitely opened up my eyes and my mind and I now cannot wait to have my very own class back home! After more than two years of traveling and living abroad, I’m ready for a new adventure...I’m ready to come back home :)