Sunday, September 30, 2012

Induction Day

Yesterday was much better. I went with my roommates to Engage Education’s Induction Day and on the way I noticed that a café around the corner from the house offers Wi Fi – FINALLY! Will definitely be going to check that out tomorrow. A university was hosting Induction Day in one of their lecture halls and there was something of a relay as Engage consultants took turns leading us where we needed to be. Craig was first, waiting right by the gate, and told me right away that he’d received an email from my mom who said she hadn’t heard from me and was worried. I had warned him that my mom worried easily and was not at all surprised by this. He told me he’d give me his phone later and I could email back that I was okay.

We went into where the workshops were to be held and I ended up sitting next to a girl name Christa who had been in North Bay along with my roommates. She asked me if everything was okay since I seemed a little choked up and I explained about my mom. Immediately, she pulled out her phone, loaded its web browser and told me to go ahead and email her. I could have kissed her! It was such a generous and wonderful thing to do and I wasted no time dropping my mom a line. Christa and I chatted some more and she turned out to be really great and, dang, I finally made myself friend! And, for the record, yes, I sucked at friend-making in elementary school too. Christa has been over hear almost a month now, but only started at the schools this last week or so. Unfortunately, she works in the Southeast – totally the opposite end of the city from me – but we exchanged emails and cell numbers so that we’d each have someone to turn to for support when we need it.

The workshops – which was really just one long lecture divided into four parts by snack breaks – were interesting and gave me a good framework of how it will likely go in the schools next week with a healthy helping of advise thrown on top for good measure. They were run by two school heads – one from a secondary school, one from a junior school – who had a wealth of personal experience and knowledge to draw on. It was great, and the food offered was pretty great too.

After the workshops everyone was headed over to a bar for drinks. I hung back to get my phone sorted out and they ended up giving me a new one  rather than trying to figure out what was wrong with the old one. This one claims to have £1 of credit but Charlie, the JSA rep I talked to this time around, said the £10 credit should come along soon enough. I have my doubts but, hey, it’s more than the zero credit first phone had. Also listened to explain how expense claims work to Christa – basically, the government taxes your net salary twenty per cent (yup, seriously, 20%), so the expense claims serve to lower what’s to be taxable net down to a minimum of £250 (minimum wage). This means that if I make £440 in a week and can claim, say, £200 in expenses, I get taxed on £240 instead of the full £440 for that week. Between this, the internet and the bank I am really starting to miss the simplicity of Canada.

Christa and I, along with another group of teachers, tagged along with Craig and another consultant to the bar…mostly because they knew where it was and we didn’t. Engage covered the drinks – I probably broke the bank with the two cokes I had, while Christa had a Smirnoff first and later a coke. Christa also sprang for food – a cheese pizza (they gave new meaning to flat bread!) and fries – that we split. I offered to pay half but she argued that she’d already worked a week and been paid while mine was still pending. That girl is way too nice for her own good.
After a couple of hours, and with the noise so loud you couldn’t think let alone chat, Christa and I had both had enough and decided to head home. She had GPS on her phone so it wasn’t too hard to get ourselves back to the train station, although naturally we needed two separate stations but everything worked out. I stopped by a Sainbury’s (grocery store – one is supposed to open just up the street from the house next week) that was right beside the train station and picked up a 2L bottle of Pepsi (£1), a package of sliced chicken breast and another of sliced turkey breast (2 for £3), a litre of semi skimmed milk (£0.89), a small tub of peanut butter (£1.49), a loaf of bread (£0.85) and a bag of 6 small flavour ripe tomatoes (£1) for a total of £8.77. I asked a train employee for the best route back to the house and, bang, I was back by 9:30PM.

Took a shower, snuggled up in bed with Sherlock on my DVD player and my laptop to write up some more blog posts. Despite getting teary and choked up when Craig mentioned my mom being worried for me, I have now made it two days – three if you count today – without actual crying – I consider this a win.  Roommates went off to find a library…I think…and run some errands. Tiffany showed me how to work the stove (which, apparently, is called a “hub” here) this morning – it’s a scary thing that involves gas and sparks so, no, I’m not a fan. I braved it anyway and had porridge for breakfast. Tomorrow is my first day teaching and I’m really excited…and scared…but mostly excited. I’m most worried I’ll sleep through my alarm – EMBARASSING! – and lose out. No idea yet where I’ll be or what grade I’ll be working with.

I’m heading out now to test out the Wi Fi at that café around the corner I mentioned yesterday. Fingers crossed – maybe I’ll even luck out and chat my mom on Google Chat!

{UPDATE: Found the cafe, got the internet, updated my blog but missed the chance to chat with mom. Due to lack of outlet and battery life limitations, I have to go home now! Still, was nice to see civilization goes on without me, LOL - even got angry messages from siblings for not making contact sooner...and leaving in the first place because, of course, he waits until AFTER I go to tell me to stay. Didn't cry - just got teary eyed. Go me!)

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