It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Let’s see if I can sum things up:
I Got Paid: My contract with English Time here is Istanbul ended Monday, Feb 1. I was promised I’d be paid that day (or the next day at the latest) in my home branch at Şirinevler. Of course it wasn’t that simple, naturally. ET restructured their school branches as of that very day and suddenly no one wanted to be responsible for paying me. On top of that, the branch manager for Şirinevler was suddenly gone with no explanation, so no one was actually in charge there. I was given a lot of frustrating mis-information, but eventually went to the head office in Mecidiyeköy and camped out until they paid me at the end of the day Wednesday, Feb 3. The money included my hourly wages for January, an end-of-contract bonus and a travel reimbursement, so it was a substantial amount of cash. It’s enough to fund some future adventures without having to dip into savings. I am relieved to finally be paid, but the runaround did nothing to endear me to the school.
Oddly, the first thing they did after paying me was to offer me another contract! I laughed, then closed my mouth and waved goodbye as I walked out. I fear the unladylike (and useless) utterances that would have passed my lips if I had replied. Maybe I’ve finally learned some diplomacy? Or maybe I was just tired.
New Work: I have a verbal agreement on a summer job in Russia. I’m very excited about this as it’s an interesting country and June and July seem like the best times to live there. I might not be hardy enough for a winter in Russia! I’ll be the first native English speaker that the school has ever had, so it will be an experience for all of us. More about the school later.
I have interviewed with a few other places, but last night had a good conversation with a school in Mexico. That seems to be my best option at the moment for work beginning in August (assuming they offer me a position). It doesn’t pay well, but I have a friend who worked there before and I trust his opinion of the school. Frankly, I’ve had two disappointing posts in a row and it would be a blessing to my mental health to be somewhere that lived up to its contract. Also, this school is closed on Sundays, so I’m guaranteed at least one day off a week. Overwork and slow payments are getting tiresome.
Spanish: I work daily on my Spanish and while I am making progress, I’m pretty horrible. It’s surprising how poor at languages I can be when I love them so much! I’m using DulLingo on the laptop (which I do daily), an app on my phone called iLang (for vocabulary practice) and I’ve completed lessons 1-5 in Pimsleur (which I listen to while I walk). I’ll be in Spain for 2.5 months and need to have a functional level of language. Plus it will help tremendously if I am offered the job in Mexico. Many Americans speak Spanish, not to mention Spain, Mexico and almost all of South and Central America. It’s an important language to know. Wish me luck.
But let me add that learning Spanish as I live in Istanbul and need to converse in Turkish while teaching English grammar, is disorienting. I don’t always know what language will come out of my mouth!
2016 is going to be another year of adventure! Here’s the short list:
February: Leave Istanbul. Visit Athens, Greece on my own and and Edinburgh, Scotland with two dear friends, Julia and Kathy from NY. Kathy went to school there so she will be an excellent tour guide!
March: A few days in Barcelona, Spain, then volunteer teaching and a teacher improvement program in Valencia, Spain. I’m quite excited because I’ll be there over Easter, which should be spectacular. Also, there’s something called the Fire Festival that should make for some great blog photos! The last days of the month, I will head to Pamplona, Spain to meet three dear US friends: Kathy (NY), Stephanie (VA) and Tim (TX).
April to mid-May: Three of us will become pilgrims and hike the Camino (aka The Walk, The Way of St. James) from Pamplona to Santiago, and then (if our feet are still good) on to the sea at Finisterra! It’s an ancient pilgrim’s path to the church at Santiago where the bones of St. James are supposed to be buried. There are many paths to this church, but we are walking one of the main one, usually called The French Way. Selfishly, I convinced my partners to skip the Pyrenees mountains on the French/Spanish border. The weather is precarious in April and besides, I hiked enough mountains on the AT for a lifetime! This is traditionally a religious pilgrimage. I’m not a particularly religious person, though I have a spiritual side. If we do the entire distance, it’s “only” 500 miles. I think this will be an easier walk than the AT hike: less elevation change, more fresh food, we will stay in hostels every night and eat fresh food every day. Because I don’t need a tent or stove, my pack will be ridiculously light, as well. Oh, and wine. There will be wine! Hum…..bottles of wine might weight the pack down a bit. And where did I pack that cork screw?
Mid-May to June: Not planned yet, but ideally, I’d like to see a bit of Russia before I start teaching there. What I’ve checked out so far is horribly expensive, so we will see…..
June and July: Teaching a summer school program in Nakhodka, Russia. The city is located on the Pacific Ocean, near Vladivostok. The school pays me, takes care of travel there and back and provides accommodations.
August: Still working on this, but by this point I’ll really need a year-long contract and stay put for a while.
Did I mention I love my crazy, nomadic life?