Letting loose the safari within

There are butterflies in my tummy. No, not butterflies … It’s an elephant. Wait, a herd of elephants. And I’m pretty sure they’re being chased by lions. And a few antelope are springing about.

There’s a safari in my tummy! There we go – a much more appropriate description.

There’s a safari in my tummy because this morning I said “yes“.

To going to Singapore.

For two years.

To live and work there.

In Singapore.

For two years.

I was offered a two year contract to work in Singapore.

Breathe in.

I leave in seven weeks.

Breathe out.

It wasn’t unexpected, I’ll be honest, but I was also kind of hoping they would decide I wasn’t right so that I wouldn’t have to make the decision. Yes, you read right – I didn’t want to make the decision. It’s much easier to have someone else make a decision for you, because then you can blame them when the safari bursts forth and takes over your life, not just your internal organs.

Let me fill you in … There’s a short version and a long version.

The short version is this: I contacted a school in Singapore to see if they have any teaching positions, they did, and now I’m going over there in seven weeks for two years.

The long version dates back to 2008 and stars a fiery young woman (that would be me) who spent a year teaching and stormed away from the profession denouncing the education system, feeling fairly abused and jaded from the entire experience. There were tears, angry conversations, and debate … though the school knew nothing of this. I simply “decided to take on a different position elsewhere”. My mother copped the brunt of it with endless phone calls on the way home from work each day – “I can’t do this … I’ll finish the year and that’s it … I won’t go back … I don’t want to do this … I hate this … ” and my friends were ever patient and loving when my mother didn’t answer the phone (damn caller ID) and I turned to them instead. My sister … I lived with my sister at the time and it’s probably a testament to her patience that I’m still alive today.

So that was the end of my teaching career. (Incidentally, in the space of one week towards the end of 2008 I quit my job, dumped my boyfriend, and went overseas. Sound familiar?)

The problem is, I miss it. I really miss seeing the kids every day, and the actual act of teaching. I mean, helloooo, every week I post a grammar tip on this blog because I miss teaching so damn much. I need to feel like I’m helping someone (and correcting their grammar)!

I didn’t realise how much I missed it until I went to Mexico in 2010 and taught English in a home for children. I was only there for a month but I had so much fun! Of the many things I did in 2010, this was one of the “highlights”. It rekindled my passion for teaching, though I tried to ignore it this year.

Returning to teaching means a lot to me. It means, in a sense, swallowing my pride and reneging on the vows I made never to step foot in a classroom again. It also means learning from my previous teaching experience in assessing what I am and what I am not capable of committing to. So when I’ve been looking at returning to teaching, I’ve been looking at it as a lifestyle choice – an opportunity to share my love of language and literature, to write, to travel, and to simply enjoy my “free time”. Despite what you’re thinking, teachers don’t get a lot of holidays – a lot of mine were spent marking, preparing, and trying not to think about certain teachers whose attitudes upset me beyond belief. This position, however, is a lot more flexible because it’s not a formal teaching arrangement, so my own interests can fit happily around my love of teaching (without that love of teaching becoming resentment for marking and a distinct hatred for netspeak appearing in essays).

I contacted this particular school a few weeks ago and asked if they had any positions available. I expected them to either not respond or, like a few other places, inform me that I was “not successful at this time”. Instead, there were a few emails, some lengthy documents, and some even lengthier phone conversations. And now, the contract has been signed and sent, and off I go … in seven weeks.

I am nervous. Anxious. Appalled at how quickly I made the decision and how quickly everything is rolling (the additional paperwork and requests for blahblahblah are already in my inbox).

Mostly, I’m excited.

I mean, come on – I’ve hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, written a novel in a month, and walked through New York City in a blizzard wearing nothing but a fleece jumper and jeans. And if the safari gets loose, well then let it! What an adventure! What a story!

I can handle Singapore, but can Singapore handle me? Bring it, lah.

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17 comments on “Letting loose the safari within

  1. Pingback: Z is for Zest « dodging commas

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  3. You’ll love it. Spent over 4 years there and went to the night safari every couple of months. Kids loved it too. Very clean, cosmopolitan city. Enjoy. Which school?

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    • Aw, thank you – that means a lot to hear, I must admit, as I so often doubt myself.

      The brain has managed to get itself into a bit of a fizzy-fuzzy mess but I’m making lists. Lots and lots of lists.

  6. This is very VERY exciting news, Stef! Way to go! Good on you for taking the plunge; you’re going to have the most amazing time and what an experience! Squeeeeeeee!

    • So excited! Let me know if you’re ever travelling through as I aim to have a spare bed/fold out couch for guests! On your way back from Europe perhaps?

      • You’re too kind Stef! I would jump at the offer if we weren’t flying back through Dubai. Next time!

        Can’t wait to hear about all your Singapore adventures!

  7. I can understand the butterphants stomping around inside but Go for it!

    Great opportunity to get back doing something you obviously love.

    Best of luck and make sure you keep blogging!

    • My thoughts exactly. And everything seems to be synchronising (albeit with a side of chaos) so nicely. Today I was about to ring the office in Singapore with some questions and just as I was looking up their number my phone rang – they rang to see if I had questions and needed any assistance with the visa forms. So lovely – and perfectly timed!

  8. Alright, I’m not done reading this post yet (just up to the Mexico, kids, etc portion) but I just have to blurt out how excited I am for you, hahaha.

    That is a wonderful opportunity. It’s a new place, a new culture, and it seems you’ll have plenty of time to write. Congratulations! 🙂

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