School’s out


Everybody keeps asking me how I’m feeling usually followed by some suggestions. Excited? Nervous? Ready? Sometimes I nod in agreement but most of the time these words don’t seem to deal with the complexity of how I feel. So I thought I’d try to write into words some of those feelings. So at the moment, I’m feeling a little bit heartbroken.

This is something that I’ve not heard people talk about. Maybe it’s because I’m the only one to feel it, or because it just is difficult to articulate. There’s a slight fear that these words may be misconstrued and that if you give something words then it has power and significance. These feelings don’t have more importance than the joy and anticipation I have about my trip, so this is not to get anyone worried. But I’m wanting to be as honest as possible here, so I thought I would write about these thoughts as well.

Time for some context. When I was applying for this trip I was really ready to leave my job. It would probably be an exaggeration to say I hated it, but it was not something I was prepared to do for much longer. My classes were hard, my increase in timetable seemed impossible and I was exhausted and pretty miserable most of the time. I wanted to escape and applying to live in Cambodia seemed a good way to do it. Again, to simplify my reason for applying to just that would be inaccurate, but the timing felt right and that was one of the factors. This was the case up until October half-term.

Then something terrible happened. Something that I still have to come to terms with.

I fell in love with my job.

I fell utterly, devastatingly, irreversibly in love with with being a teacher at a rather difficult school. Yes, it has been a complex love-hate relationship at times, but, for the most part, I’ve loved it. I work with some of most brilliant teachers I know, as well as some fantastically amazing support staff. There are many colleagues that will have my undying respect for what they do and the manner in which they do it.

And then there are the students. I’m not quite sure how they do it but they really get under your skin. The school I work at I full of the loveable rogue types; diamonds in the rough. Yes, they can be a bit sweary, unpredictable and challenging. But they’re also fiercely loyal, joyously lively, and hilariously perceptive. They make you tear your hair out, but give you a laugh or two while you’re doing it.

So saying goodbye to the school has been really hard. A lot of the students and staff I will see again. But there are some I won’t. It was saying goodbye to my year 10s that was particularly hard. I feel like I’m missing out on a really important year of their lives.

But, to sound ridiculous twee, difficult goodbyes remind you that you have something worth missing. And those students and that school is definitely worth that.

Three days

It’s three days until I depart (you what?!). I’m wildly swinging through a crazy range of emotions. At the moment, I’m feeling actually quite settled and somewhat prepared. This is what clinical psychologists call denial- but, hey, who is it hurting? There have been a few sad goodbyes this weekend, mainly with family members. This mixed with exhaustion makes for a heady cocktail of feelings. (I did nearly cry in Sainsbury’s. And I love Sainsbury’s.)

It was a lovely weekend, doing quintessentially British things (cream teas, garden “tennis”, walks by the sea). I even got to catch up briefly with an old friend. It has been good. But like I said, emotions were strained in places.
I’ve begun the packing process. By this, I mean I have a suitcase that I’ve been throwing things in. It’s a bit strange putting your life into what is essentially a small fabric box. In a way, though, it’s somewhat liberating.
I’ve bought a new laptop. It’s cheap, cheerful and I won’t be too bereft if I leave it on a bus traveling through rural Asia. It’s only to do admin work at the school, to type blog posts and to Skype, really.
The weather here has been preparing me somewhat for Cambodia. It’s been quite hot and muggy (although nowhere near the heights that Cambodia sees). I went to bed to a chorus of mosquitoes, so that’s another thing to get used to, I suppose. Only these mosquitoes just give you annoying itchy bites, not dengue fever.
I just need to sort out my school classroom, the remainder of my clothes and my car. Not much for 72 hours!

Many thanks!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for the support. I’ve received some really amazing gifts and cards and well wishes. It’s been lovely to feel so appreciated (unless everyone is just making sure I’m actually going).

Some puntastic gifts

I’ve receive a lot of (medicinal) drugs and hygiene related products. I’m not sure if that’s a comment on my usual state or not…

The thought and love that has gone into these gifts is really touching. So, for everyone who has supported me, shown an interest of given me gifts, I’m exceptionally grateful.

Thank you.

Supportive parents

I moved back in with my parents for the final few months before Cambodia. When people find this out, a concerned look falls over their face and they ask what it’s like. I don’t know if this gives any idea to the answer.

I was moaning at my dad yesterday, which led to this exchange:

Dad: I was just about to transfer money into your account for Cambodia, you know.

Me: Oh I see, just throw money at a problem and hope it goes away.

Dad: Well, it’s worked, hasn’t it?

Touché.

Final countdown

It 24 days until I go. I am now incredibly stressed. This is not because I will be in a foreign country where there are a ridiculous amount of unknown variables (like where will I be living? etc.). That I don’t mind. In fact, I’m looking forward to the next 24 days being over. At least the plane journey will be relaxing. What is stressing me out is the demand of life in the UK. I have to get loads of things sorted for my job (3 work experience visits, 1 school trip, write 2 schemes of work) and I’ve filled out my weekends with a ridiculous amount of things. I’ve got friends visiting, BBQs, picnics, family things. In the meantime, I’m also moving to a foreign country. (In case I haven’t mentioned it.)

It hasn’t been a leisurely, calm end to this stage that I imagined. Yes, a lot of it is really, really good stuff, but it’s also exhausting. Being an introvert with hosting anxiety (everything needs to be perfect), it’s also incredibly stressful. To make problems worst, my body deals with stress by becoming incredibly lethargic and shutting down. I also tend to get poorly.

I don’t want to end this time is a disorganised mess and leave a trail of destruction that others have to sort. That’d be wrong. But I also feel like I’m under extreme pressure due to the various expectations that others have on me. I doesn’t help that I say “yes” to everything.

However, I have just finished making twelve bottles of apple wine to lubricate the process. So, I may be incredibly busy, and I need to get a lot sorted, but at least I’ll be happily tipsy for most of it. (Just to clarify, I don’t drink in excess, before you’re worried…)

Black hole

I’m back in term time! So, once again I have been sucked into the inevitable black hole of school life. In goes my time, energy and, apparently, my ability to hear.


This would be fine, because I have the summer holidays to recover. It’s not as if I have signed myself up to moving to another country the day after we break up. No. That would be insane.

At the time of writing, I have 36 days to go. Click here for a second by second countdown.