Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Third time's the Charm: Jakarta

I figured I'd update you with my recent experience.

After further discussions and weighing of pros and cons, I chose Jakarta, Indonesia over other countries like Korea, and Saudi.

First of all, when I thought about Jakarta, I feel like it's an exotic place. Yes it's in Asia, however, I don't really know that many Indonesian people. So a peak of curiosity always ran through me.

The actual experience: Jakarta is busy, traffic jams everywhere: vehicles and motorcycles alike. People are friendly, nice, and curious. I can't help but feel that they're also a tad "close minded"? I say this because, well, let's face it. I blend in well with my asian appearance; they would talk to me in their language. Which brings me to my question: "Do Indonesians  not 'smell' a foreigner and just base everything on looks?" I wondered about this, because when I was 18 and went back to the Philippines for a vacay, my relatives would always tell me to be careful or not to go to certain places as they can see and 'smell' that I'm not from that area, that I had the 'foreigner' act. What constitutes as a foreigner smell, look and act?

Anyway, food is great. Tons of variety and flavour. But, if your stomach is not used to their food, you can expect it to not go so well. They use a lot of oil, salt, MSG and chili. So almost every food here is medium to high spicy

Teaching -- For once, I'm actually having a hard time feeling settled and comfortable in my work space as well as home. It's not that it's not safe or anything. But I can't seem to put my finger on what's making me feel unsettled. Maybe it's the fact that my students don't really look up to me due to my appearance, or the fact that I can't speak the language (lesson's are given after 3 weeks of being here). The way of teaching is reading the binder and following it line by line, page by page. I think that's what it is. I don't feel connected to the text or the "script" that they want us to follow that I can't do my best as a teacher, or at least, I don't feel like I'm doing my best. I was told that creativity can come in from this binder, by changing the examples and that's it. I don't know how long it'll take until I can actually make this activity cater to my teaching style. There are the other classes of course: complimentary and social club. Those feel more of a classroom, school setting than encounters, where we grade and evaluate our students based on their understanding. I don't know, maybe it's just the jitters of being a new teacher. I'll get over it..

On the other hand, so far, the students, (aside from their curiosity questions) are nice and respectable. I haven't met one that disrespects and shows attitude towards me yet. Let's hope it doesnt happen anytime soon. Cuz I honestly need to feel settled first in order for me to continue 'peacefully' and deal with student problems.

Housing -- expensive (in comparison to my salary), comes out of my pay cheque and the bills are not a joke either. I gotta find a new apartment soon. I cant stay in a place I don't feel most comfortable in. In due time, one step at a time right? Yes I know, but it's been a month. I need to feel if not settled, then comfortable at least! sigh*

Well, this is Indonesia for me at the moment. I feel like getting away soon...

Monday, June 24, 2013

School, Work, and Politics

Hey Everyone!

Updates! I know, I haven't been here in a while. It's not like anyone's really here *cricket chirping*.. (lol)
Alright, updates time:

Im still here in, SA. Still fighting the "good fight" so to speak.  With the time that I spent here, I was moved to 3 different schools. From the main one up in the mountains, to the school by the city, and lastly, to a location, far far away in a place where no one lives, you learn a lot of life lessons.

Well first things first: the students/classes. They vary from one school to another, all skills, talents, you name it. I liked most of my students in the first and second schools. They seemed a bit more motivated, interested, and driven. My third school however, was a nightmare! I couldn't move past their walls, no matter how much I've tried; nothing worked for them. With only a couple of students with visible progress, I was doomed to hit my own wall. I almost felt like a failure as a teacher to them. I played games, thought of different creative approaches, made myself look silly, but nothing worked for these ladies! It was a tough fight, and boy am I glad it's over!

However, interestingly enough, in the last school that I was placed, I made great new friends (considering I was the only native teacher there). It wasn't all that bad, but it wasn't all that pleasant either. I mean, don't get me wrong, there were a lot of times where I felt my every move was being watched and I didn't understand anything as their conversations run in Arabic. But there's also times, where I felt included and part of the staff team. I somehow managed to include myself in a small "clique" so to speak. A friendly one though, not the "mean girls type" type of thing.

And then came the politics. Now, it's going to get a bit confusing in this part of the blog, so please bare with me. A little backstory to speed things a bit. I got moved to the last school in the middle of nowhere because I've asked to be moved for personal reasons (As if!). Now in this school, there was a lady or a girl lets say, who use to run things the way they did. She was then demoted to a lower position with a failure class, for whatever reasons. I came just a few days after her "demotion". Now this lady/person, happened to like English a lot and so we connected in an instant, more so than the others.  This "friendship" then created attentions alike, that no one's happy about. So then came the first rumour, which resulted into her being moved to a different location. Therefore, I was left in the place, all alone, with no one talking to me, except to say, "let's get ready to go". I've learned then, to create to friendships and relationships with the other staff. This led to good friendships, and ladeedaah. You know the rest of the story.

Since, the first rumour surrounded me and the lady I spoke of, I decided to keep a distance between myself and her, as I realized, she creates, invites and make dramas of her own and for everyone else close and around her. I didn't have any negative feelings towards her then so I still maintained what was left from our friendship. I was hurt and clueless because I really valued our friendship together. We told secrets, inside politics, and so on. We talked about almost everything. When I heard about the rumour, I didn't doubt her as I can kind of see the person she is. But why with me, is beyond my belief or control. Regardless, Me and my close girlfriend confronted her about them, and asked her about it. Of course, all is denied. She even made a whole scene about it, brought in her housemates into it, resulting into them sabotaging, whatever it is I have planned for myself. At this point of the relationship, I have completely stopped talking to her, only to say hi/hello to the other two, and checking in via text, regarding what she's up to. And because nothing was done with this rumour, nobody stopped her or talked to her from the supervisors of higher authority than me, she continued. But she planned one a little bit more than 2 months after the first one. Yup, she continued Folks.

Now this last rumour, was more serious than the last one, that she caused my company's projects to be retracted, ruining professional relationships with everyone, thus creating a HUGE hole in the company. But of course, this rumour can't be simply done by her, but with the help of her two housemates and an old lover of which is the Director/Supervisor of the English units of the University. Why is she being helped you asked? Well, lets give you a side story.

This is how things work here in KSA: Companies put a bid on school/universities to provide them with teachers and educators alike. Whichever one the university liked, or whichever company bids or pays the highest, gets the contract. Now there was a company before mine, of whom the universities liked more because of bribe. Yes, you read that right, bribe. The corruption in politics, lives in schools and universities alike. So this fellow person, who is helping this lady, is part of the university. Since he liked to get bribed and paid more illegally as one may say, he is then helping this lady I spoke get rid of my company so that the university will be under the old company who likes to bribe their teachers/staff, whether or not, they are working or hardly working.

Where am I going with this? Well, this person, director/supervisor, doesn't think I know about his dirty business, not only with the companies, but with ladies as well. From one affair to another he's just enjoying them all. Have I mentioned he's married with 4 kids or so? Yeah. This director/dean person, wants to get rid of me in this city, constantly asking if I'm still here or not. Truth is, I couldn't give a brass fcuk about this person. I would be happy to be away from such witches, monsters, and gigolos, who likes nothing but sex, and doesn't work to put food in their families tummies.

Lesson of this blog: Be careful of who you make friends with. One day they're on your side, next day, they're selling you out, for their own enjoyment purposes. I was really hurt by this lady's action. I can't believe she would do something like this. As my close friend said "They didn't turn into witches, they were always one from the very beginning.We were just too nice to fall for their fake acts"

What's happening with me? Well I'm being moved to Riyadh, this week or the next to finish the remaining of my contract there. I stayed here because me and my close friend were needed for a summer program that was sabotaged by the witches. So because it didn't work out, we are then being moved to the original city for the last two months of our term. Let's see what happens then, shall we?


Friday, November 23, 2012

El-Baha

Updates:
Work here in Al Baha started with us teaching in a University. I mean really, who would've thought, that I'd be teaching university!! It's such an exciting experience. I'm quite happy with my class, their progress and everything. One thing I love the most about it, is the fact that I have office hours!! How awesome is that!! I never thought Id be proud of myself, but currently, I AM! I still can't grasp it! In addition, we are also teaching ESP (English for Specific Purposes), in our case, Medical Science students.

I mean, it's hard, but at the same time, both us and the students are all learning together! It's great and exciting! =)

What's teaching university like? Well teaching University is vastly different from teaching younger children. My students are all considered adults. However, sometimes I have to remind each and every one of them, that they're ladies; they're responsible for their own actions whether it means skipping class, not doing their homework, or not participating in class. SO far so good. They are so sweet. We just had an ESP test and of course they were all worried. But I reviewed with them so many times and helped build their confidence. It turned out to be good =).

We did shopping activities, human knot as a game, first letter game, etc. I currently have 5 students participating in a game, and 2 in an adaptation of the Shakespearean play "King Lear".

Admin and HR: they are a bit late and behind with the admin stuff. I mean it took me about 2 and a half weeks just to get a letter, giving me permission to open a bank account. It's taking them almost a month now to do a multi-entry visa. But the important thing is, it's getting done. My patience is not running thin with that fact, but with something else.. we have this rosivrepus and she's really, something. I still can't figure her out. But it's ok. So far so good. I'm loving my students. One day they told me "Teacher! You're brave for doing this! I mean, coming here, all alone, without any of your family! It's really brave of you!" and then another day, on the topic of occupations: "Teacher, I don't think I can be a teacher. I can't teach all these students and take care of them. I don't have the patience! It's too much work!" Hahahah! They made me laugh! :) Love these girls! I'm glad they look up to me. Although, they started to ask me for my facebook and such. Of course, I'm not about to give it! :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saudi: Finally here

Ok, so! Let me get things outta the way. I got my passport with my visa on the 25th and on the 29th I had a flight.

The flight: it was 22 hours overall from Toronto, with a 6 hour layover in Abu Dhabi. Which means 14 hours from Toronto to Abu Dhabi and then 2 hours from Abu Dhabi to Saudi. When I arrived in Abu Dhabi, there were so many expats travelling I could not believe it. It was crowded like a store with awesome sales. Anyhow, the plane to Saudi, was kinda awkward. It was packed with males, and probably about 5 females including myself and this other person I was supposed to meet in the Abu Dhabi airport. Arriving in Saudi, the lines were ginormous. There were 6 lines and yet each line was going as slow as a turtle. To make matters worse, a bunch of females ladies/girls were stuck on the new comer line, making it 5x longer than it should've. And then when I was next in line, the security called me over the next cue, asked questions, and stamped my passport. On to the baggage belt, 1,2,3,4 times I was asked if I was "philippini" I said, no Canadian, and they had this weird look on their face. I will tell you the story for this later on. So I got my luggages, met a friend in the airport, and exited. At first, I was extremely nervous, as I heard bad things about the company I applied for. And then I saw the company driver with my name and the other girl I was supposed to meet in Abu Dhabi airport, and then I felt better. I knew then that the rumours were false and that I can finally breathe. It is then after 5 minutes of waiting I saw and met Jen. We are now close friends ever since that day :).

Accommodations: I'm quite pleased with the accommodations, I have no complain or anything. We each get a room, with either an indoor or outdoor washroom (outside your room or inside) a shared living room, a kitchen, as well as a front patio. Water coolers, 24hour hot water, and AC/heater in our rooms and the main areas. There's an outdoor pool and a small gym in the centre of the compound. The only problem I probably have with our compound is our lack of working wifis. This thing we have to share with everyone, making it almost impossible to connect to the Internet or do anything that requires Internet. Until now, 27th of October, our wifis are still not being fixed. Moving on...

School life: it's hard to admit, but the students, though aged 16 and up, are like Georgian children: they repeatedly say "teacher, teacher, teacher!" if they want to answer or tell you something, instead, of  raising their hand quietly and patiently for you to call on them. Teachers have to tell their students to take out their books, pencils, pens and papers and copy something down, instead of the students voluntarily doing it. But the thing that amuses me the most, is their curiosity and the way the society has shaped up their thinking. I haven't raised my voice at them, but I can feel my blood rushing to my head. Lol. It's all good, it's all teacher life.

Social life: I live in a all women's compound, and sometimes, too much estrogen in one place is not good. I'm not too say that I have problems with all these women. I've made quite a lot of friends and am happy bout our friendships. :) I'm just saying, too much estrogen can't be good in any situation. =P

Dress code: black abaya with a scarf, any scarf to cover your head. Abaya are to be worn in public, but not inside the compound. I actually like this. Why? Because as women, we get harassed at how we look, what we wear etc. Here, nobody can holler at you, make you feel uncomfortable or pick you up. They're not allowed to. Plus, who wouldn't want to get out in their pjs, just once in their life =P. Anyway, It's as if for them, men don't exist and are seen as s******* It's quite deliberating. But of course, all women still have to take precautions when walking at night time for who knows who's out and about at certain hours right? The abayas though are very well designed. Because its such a huge thing here, they're all so pretty and nicely customized. I've never seen such intricate designs that compliment clothes. You have to see it for yourself to know what I mean :)

Updates: my company decided to send me and 3 other girls to Al baha university on Nov. 1st. It's going to take time adjusting again, since this place is considered a village, rather than a city. Oh we'll, we'll just see how it goes, and hope for the best.

More updates later on :) ATM, were on Eid al Adha holiday for two weeks so :) cheers!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Updates: Visa Processing Part 2

So I got an email from my visa agent. This is what he said..

["Hi ________,

I hope you are doing well.

You application has been registered by the embassy and is on the 22 day hold which expires on Sept 22. 

the embassy informed us that there may be further delays involving ESL teachers until an approval comes from the Ministry of Labour for them.

They are holding back the applications of those whose educational background is not in or related to English teaching (degree submitted does not match or relate to the job title to be held in KSA). However, they issued visas for people whose major of study was in English and will for the moment if a person has a degree in Applied Linguistics.

This new situation is affecting a large number of ESL teachers. We are not sure how long it will take until this approval comes but the visa officer made it clear to us that the embassy will not issue visas until the approval comes from the Ministry. 

We go to the embassy twice per day and will update you once we hear anything from the embassy. To this day, we have not received any information to update you with further.

Just bear in mind that our service fees are non-refundable once we submit your application to the embassy and the embassy rejects it or delays it or if you wish to cancel the application.

You may certainly wish to inform your employer of this case." ]

Surely, at this time, I know I'm not meant to go to Saudi Arabia... Ugh. this is so frustrating. I'm losing hope!! =(

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Part I : The terrifying Visa Processing!

So, Saudi really is different, especially when it comes to visa processing. Unlike Georgia, they give you a list, you provide the list, and send it back to your recruiter. But with Saudi, they give you a detailed, complicated list, send it to one of the agents assigned, they then send the papers to the embassy for you, and in return, you will wait for your agent's response regarding problems and more papers needed. Oh and waiting list of 1 month or more -_-. So anyway, I've just gotten my employment package last sunday the 29th. But before that, I've been doing medical checks, police clearance checks and then of course the Visa processing itself. The agent that they provided at first, were so unhelpful, always telling me to go their website, as "everything is there" but the website itself, complicates and confuses everything. So here we are (Mom & I) searching high and low for answers, trying to translate the Arabic letters sent to me, going to various visa agents, going to different appointments and this and that, and honestly, by the end of 2 weeks of processing visa everyday, we were fed up. So I decided to talk to my recruiter and have her help us. And she did. Good thing is when i called their agent and they tried to tell me to go to the website again, I didn't snap. I just asked a bunch of questions and now I'm just waiting for my documents and results to come back to me. Hopefully by the end of this week, everything will be handed in. I was so close to giving up. I swear. Thank God for my mom, and my fiancee! <3

Ok more on this later on =)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Next Destination: Saudi Arabia

So now that I've finished a school year contract in the Republic of Georgia, time to move to a new country: Saudi Arabia, my birthplace. First of all, I would like to tell you how excited, nervous and happy I am to be offered a job in Saudi. To tell you the truth, I doubted myself and my applications because Saudi is such a competitive market for ESL teachers. Most of the companies want someone with at least 2-3 years of experience, who has a masters degree AND one who holds a CELTA or a TEFL certificate. I have 1 year of experience, a BA in English, and a TEFL certificate. Who would've thought I'd get an offer?! So yes, I'm extremely happy. However, now that I actually got a chance, I'm scared of messing up. I'm actually nervous that my students will not learn from me. And like everyone says, it will definitely be a different experience than Georgia. So we'll see how it goes. I will keep you updated with the whole process. Interview, background and experience check, and signing of the offer is finished. But as of right now, I'm just waiting for their agency here in Canada to send me the visa papers. If all goes well, I could be leaving in 2 and a half weeks!

Speaking of leaving, what or how should I pack this time? I have a straight 1 year contract and have no idea what I will need to bring..Any suggestions?

ps: yes of course it's a bittersweet experience. I havent even reached one month here in Canada, and here I am, about to embark on a new journey. Like my very first time, I'm scared, I'm terrified, nervous but not clueless. =)