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Bittersweet

Well that happened quick.  I had an interview with a school in Busan two hours ago and they've offered me the job already.  They're writing up the contract now.
So, I'm happy, right?  I mean Busan was exactly where i wanted to be.  But a little part of me was hoping i'd fail the interview, as i didn't want to relay the bad news to Liz's school in Seosan.  I mean i really liked the people there and i was warming to the idea of living in Seosan.  I hate disapointing people, especially when they've done their best to help me and were looking forward to working with me.

So Busan...the beaches, the bars, my old friends from the language cafe and the lovely Min-ji.  She'll be excited that i'm moving, though considering my recent history i hope it's not just to break her heart when i leave after a year.  I kind of have mixed feelings about my decision at the moment, but i think ultimately Busan will be a good move.

On the subject of breaking hearts and letting people down, me and Temi are no longer a thing, if we ever were.  Which was inevitable ofcourse if i was going away, I just wasn't expecting it to end so upsettingly for her.  I've always been open about my plans to go away teaching for a year, and i presumed that as she understood this she was cool about getting into a short term relationship.  But as it happens,no.  Things suddenly took a turn for the worst when i mentioned my korea plans again, and she said that she doesn't do short term flings, that she feels she was just something to fill in the time, and a heads up would have been nice.  She said that she doesn't take it lightly when people use her.  Ofcourse i said i was really sorry about the way things worked out, and i hoped we could still be friends.  She said yes, but to give her time for now.
Shit, another girl hurt who really liked me to add to my not impressive collection of screw ups.  I do really like Temi, we really click, but i guess ultimately it was not enough to make me abandon my 'teach for a year in asia' plans.  I was originally meant to be visiting her in Glasgow this weekend.  But she's decided it would be best not to.

Also going to give up on my plans to partake in the trails4us clinical trials.  I was kind of looking forward to it, easy money, a worthy cause and i imagined it leading to some 'that time i was a human guineapig' stories.  But it clashes with the start of my job so got to give it a miss.  My parents will be relieved!

Interview whirlwind

I was originally meant to be going up to Glasgow today but that got cancelled.  That's a story for another post, but it does mean that i'd already booked tonight off work which has turned out to be very much needed.

Sunday evening I went through 'Dave's ESL cafe' emailing every agency in Korea I could find but suspecting i'd left things too late for the Fall 2017 term.  To my pleasant surprise i had several agencies interested in me by the following morning.  Since then my week has been a whirlwind of emails and skype interviews.  This is while working nights at the same time, so i've been feeling utterly knackered at work while fitting in interviews in the morning before i go to bed.

Yesterday morning I had interviews with two schools who both offered me a contract.  I opted for the one in Seosan, a small city an hour and half from Seoul.  For the past few weeks i've been feeling unusually stressy for me, but with the Korean job in the bag with a late August start i could finally relax.  Jeff at my agency forwarded me the contract in the early hours of this morning, and i emailed him promising to read and sign it tonight...

I woke up this afternoon to a message on skype from Yoon at another agency if i was still interested in the interview with the school and if i'd recieved his email?  What email?  I checked my junk emails and there it is, an email at 3am Wednesday offering me an interview a school in Busan.
Busan, I fucking love Busan!  The city has loads of cool places to visit, I have friends still there from the English Language cafe and it's the home city of Min-Ji, the girl who i dated all too briefly back in August and who is hoping i get a job in Korea.  She's currently single and i'd love to meet up again.  The hours and pay are also good and it comes with free accomodation with other english teachers.  It sounds like a perfect job, and i have no idea why the email got sent to my junk inbox, especially when Yoons previous emails came to my normal one.  If i'd seen it on time i may have had the chance for an interview and job acceptance before accepting the Seosan one, so frustrating!

So on the positive side i have at least one job offer right now, which is more than i thought i might have a couple of days ago.  Yesterday I was relieved and happy, though the Busan interview job offer has left me conflicted again.  If i don't get the signed contract to Seosan by the start of tomorrow they'll be wondering what's wrong.  Should i sign the Seosan job offer and then do the Busan interview anyway? I don't like letting places down when i've already accepted a job offer.  The korean working day starts at around 1am GMT, so I should decide soon.

Plan B

Damn working nights screws up your sleeping patterns.  It's Sunday morning and i've been awake since just after 3am.  I'm meant to be doing a job search right now.  Clearly writing livejournal entries is more engaging.  Did i mention i'm annoyed at myself for putting all my eggs in one basket and not applying for anything else apart from EPIK?  I did, but i'll say it again.

So, Plan B.  I've got several ideas.  I've applied through another agency for the fall term in Korea, though i suspect it's getting very late in the day to do so.  So i'm looking at other TEFL options too.  China seems to be coming up quite a bit.  It's not my first choice but i'll take it over staying in Leicester.  Or if no paid work comes up i'm thinking of volunteering at a school in Nepal for a month, which would leave me nicely placed for that Everest base camp trek that's still on my bucketlist.  Also i've just applied to volunteer for a clinical trial down in London.  If successful i'll get more money for sitting on my arse for two weeks than i would for busting my ass at Amazon for two months.

Thursday was election day.  The polling station is a church just a minute down the road from me, and i was down there as soon as doors opened at 7.  I've always presumed i was a bit of a leftie but more recently i've been feeling i'm just more of a centrist, a liberal though not necasarily a leftist.  I voted labour, though to be honest, none of the parties manifestos looked too bad.

EPIK fail

I didn't pass the EPIK interview.

Disapointed to say the least.  I was more worried about getting all my documents in order in time than not passing the interview.    I felt the interview went fine so i'm not sure why i didn't pass.  Maybe i just applied too late in the day (only just a week before applications closed) and competition was too strong for the few remaining places.  I should have asked for letters of recommendation and then sent my application off immediately after getting back to England so kicking myself that i didn't apply sooner.

So what's the plan now?  One thing's for sure, i'm leaving Amazon anyway.  Even if i didn't want to leave my productivity is low so i'd likely be getting fired in around a month anyway.  I wasn't expecting it to be a great job, but it has improved my bank balance over the past couple of months so mission accomplished.

I'm still thinking i'd like to apply for the Spring 2018 term.  Foolishly i'd put all my effort into EPIK without a back up plan for this term and it's really getting too late to apply for the fall term through other agencies.  I might look for voluntary posts overseas.  After putting all this effort into getting the TEFL qualification it would be a shame to do nothing with it.

Assorted stuff

Summer is here, the sun is out...and i've been mostly sleeping through it due to working nights!

First the bad news workwise.  I'm on my first warning from Amazon for being behind on my rates.  Two more and i'm out.  To be honest it's just not possible.  If i had nothing but good work coming down the line then i might be able to do it, but what with a mix of times when there's no work plus all the non-sorts, misships and assorted other crap that comes down the conveyer belt the targets are not realistic.  Which means i could be out of the job in a matter of weeks...

...which may not matter too much, because the good news workwise is i have a  interview on Wednesday morning with EPIK.  If that goes well then i have only a couple of months left to sort out my documents, get the visas and then go!  I originally thought i'd have plenty of time to sort things between returning from my travels and setting off again, now i think i may be cutting it a bit tight!  I just applied for my crb check.  It should have taken just twenty minutes, but what with using different websites and problems with my paypal, it took me all evening!

Temi has been down in London visiting family and has meant to come up to Leicester to see me the past two Fridays.  But the first weekend she missed her train down to London which delayed everything so we decided the following weekend would be better.  Then just after booking her tickets Amazon announced compulsory overtime on the Friday.  I said i'd try to get the time off but in the meantime we decided it safer to cancel the tickets.  I got the time off but Temi didn't know if the tickets were cancelled properly.  When she turned up at the train station on Friday it turned out they were and it was too expensive to buy them on the day.  Annoyed that Amazon had fucked up my Friday plans, i decided to go in for overtime anyway and at least get paid time and a half for it.

Last weekend I went up to see Adrian in Nottingham.  As expected many pubs were involved and i was only a couple of drinks behind Adrian, hence the hangover the following day.  We finsihed the evening drunkenly watching old nu-metal bands on mtv, like a real life Beavis and Butthead!

Open, scan, pack, repeat

Open box, scan items, put in box, move to U-boat.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Sure it's not that exciting but it will do for now.  BTW a U-boat at Amazon is not a German submarine but is the term for the long U-shaped trolley used for stacking boxes on.  And a 'water spider' is the person whose job it is to go up and down the line solving problems!

I'm still behind on my rates.  Staff are pretty supportive asking if there's anything i need help with, but I can't think of anything in particular.  I'm ok when i get a good box to scan in, it's just all the crap items that slow me down, the non-sortables, the mis ships and the items that needs prep or won't scan properly that i have to push to the side.  I'm sure that last sentence was impenetrable jargon for anyone not working at Amazon, so to simplify i'll say some of the items that come down the conveyer belt should not have reached us.  Plus there's the times they run out of work and we're watching an empty conveyer belt, which gets frustrating.  I've made a few mistakes as well.  The set up with scanning things into the totes (the boxes or cages to recieve items)  isn't  a forgiving system even if you notice you've made a mistake.  You may scan a wrong item into a box or notice the box is broken or overloaded, but it's too late as once you've recieved it it's on the system and you can't rectify your own mistakes so you have to call a problem solver.

The two breaks we have are always too short, just enough time for a quick coffee and to gulp down my lunch.  Also for the first time since school my mum is packing a lunchbox for me again (not that i've admitted that to anyone!)  I'm usually just scrolling the news on my phone too tired to make much conversation with workmates, though my mate David who i did PUP training with sometimes joins me.  He's an old bus driver whose found himself living with his daughter after a recent break up with his wife.  I seem to be the only one who did the PUP training who hasn't had to get back on driving them again.  I'm not complaining!

We have all kinds of items to scan in; pet food, books, clothing.  We do a lot of action figures and soft toys, which always make me feel paternalistic and like I should be starting my own family soon!  Then there's the 'adult' items, lacy underwear, the 'Little Book of Big Boobs' and egg mastubatory aids (i didn't realise until i scanned those that they are actually a thing, every days a school day!)  And ridiculously oversized dildos, which at one point in coral (where the items come in) fell out of the box and were subsequently waved around!

Finally after a year of my bank account going steadily down it is starting to creep upwards again.  But it's easy for me, probably the most middle class person at the warehouse, living at home for a few months rent and bill free.  For people for whom this a longer term job who are trying to pay all the bills/rent/mortgage/look after a family on this wage, it must be a lot tougher, and makes me realize just how much of a struggle it is to get by on minimum wage (even with a night shift premium).

I much prefer the walk back from the bus stop to home in the early morning, when the sun is just rising, the streets are empty and I can take a scenic route through the park.  Plus the New Parks estate isn't yet full of scowling teenagers.  I find myself walking down streets I haven't walked down in over a decade.  One morning I got a lift part way home and ended up walking my old route from school back to home.  I haven't done that in half a lifetime, there was never any need.

I originally thought i'd find it really weird living back with my parents after a decade spent away, but it doesn't seem so yet.  During the week i just have time to get home, try and get some sleep during the day and then be up to go to work again.  And it seems i've been busy with either going somewhere or TEFL work each weekend.  And all going well i'll be packing my bags again for a trip to Asia in a few months.  So in the meantime I can enjoy a few luxuries, like getting into a comfortable bed with an electric blanket after a long night shift!

Nearly done...

The letter of recomendation arrived today from Matt at Great Ormond Street.  It took longer than expected as one of my emails didn't get throught to GOSH after they tightened up restrictions following the cyber attack that affected the NHS.  But once I got through Matt posted me a glowing letter of recomendation straight away.
Still no word from Liz from the farm.  At first she said she'd write one ASAP, but since then i haven't heard back despite sending an email, facebook message and text to enquire if she's still able to write one up.  So in the end i got in touch with ITH Pharma instead.  Their reference wasn't that personel, but it atleast came quickly.

And now just a little bit of work to be done on my application and i can send it off to EPIK!  I feel that even though the amount of paperwork hasn't been huge, the TEFL and EPIK applications have been sitting over my head since i got back.  When i get it sent off, my weekends can finally be mine again.

TEFL etc etc

Nearly done...  Just one more TEFL assignment to hand in and I have my big classroom weekened next weekend and then I should be done with the course.  And then after that I have my application for EPIK (English Program in Korea) to fill in, which is a shitload more of paperwork.  I really thought i'd be further along with my application than I am right now and I'm still waiting to hear back from both my referees.  I hope I haven't left things too late.  What with working nights all through the week i've had less time than i imagined to get things done.  Korea is still my number one choice for teaching, though my dad is worried about tensions cranking up in the region and keeps asking if I've thought of another Asian country.

Last Monday I saw Audrey again...from Kuching, Malaysia!  I meet loads of people on my travels who we say we hope to meet up again, but don't seriously expect to.  But just a month after getting back to the UK Audrey was over for a week with her friend Josephine who had a PHD defense in Doncaster before visiting London.  And on Monday they came up to Leicester for the afternoon just to see me. I had work in the evening so unfortunately couldn't stay too long, but I gave them a tour of Leicester in the time we had.  I found places even I didn't know existed!

Amazon

I should be leaving the house to head to the Amazon warehouse about this time, but after a crap nights sleep, diarhoea and feeling headachy i've phoned in sick tonight.

I started my night shifts last week.  The warehouse is a vast building, probably the largest i've ever been in, located in an industrial estate near Coalville.  The cafeteria has all the free soup and coffee you can drink, plus ping pong, pool and table football.
Work is long, and not exciting, but after a year of waltzing around the world it feels good to get grounded and start earning again.  Half my job so far has been 90% staring at a conveyer belt, 10% shifting a few boxes around when they're not lined up properly or jammed in the chute.  It drags, but its easy.  The box packing is far busier; Get cage of items, scan the item, put it in box, stuff box full of packing material, put label on box, send it through the tape machine.  If you're unlucky the tape machine will mangle the box and you'll have to do ity again.

The past couple of days i've had PUP (people up platform) training.  PUPs are the vehicles that zip around the warehouse floor and up the aisles.  The platforms extend eleven metres up to reach the highest of the shelves.  I would have been happy to carry on packing boxes and hadn't been looking forward to the training one bit, but its required of all employees.  Fail and you're out of the job.  i actually wouldn't have been too upset if i didn't pass and lost the job, i only planned to be there for three more months anyway.  Training may have lasted two days but we spent more time watching youtube videos of all the trajic accidents that can occur in forklifts than driving the vehicles we were to be tested on!  Plus i'd been wondering if i was going to freak out when the platform was lifted all the way to the top.

I really did have the nerves for the test but i passed.  Still not looking forward to driving them though.

Head in a fog

I'm meant to be writing my first assignment for my TEFL course right now.
Clearly i'm not doing it!
I've finished the ten modules which was easy enough; just reading and multiple test questions.  i could breeze through it even if i didn't understand it fully.  But now I'm meant to be designing lesson plans my head is just in a fog. I can barely sit down for a couple of minutes without getting frustrated or distracted.  It's a long time since i had to do assignments and it's like my concentration abilities have melted away since then.

I've spent far more time looking at political articles, twitter feeds and youtube videos.  There's some fantastic games for the PS4 coming out now.  I told myself i'd buy one when i got back, but i'm not going to do it until i've finished my tefl course and arranged a teaching job, otherwise i know a PS4 would just eat up all my time.  Found a lot of interesting commentators online, Sarah Haider and Sam Harris are amongst my current favourites.  I feel like a political essay coming on, but that of course would just be another distraction from what i'm meant to be doing.

Tomorrow I have an induction at the Amazon warehouse in Coalville.  My parents think its silly to jump into long hours at a minimum wage job thats a good long walk plus bus journey away.  I'm not expecting to find it a great job either, but I just felt the need to jump straight into work.  I'm not desperate for the money, it's more a physchological thing, after a year of being on holiday I need to feel like i'm earning my way again.  With a plan to be leaving the country again in another four months there's just no point in going into a career.  A simple as possible warehouse job will fill in the time nicely.  This damned assignment is using up all the grey matter i have left.

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