This past week was our first week of school and it was fantastic! I loved meeting the kids, learning about where they’re from (one of my students told me Singapore is his seventh country!), teaching social studies again, getting to know my colleagues better, and starting to feel like I actually have a purpose here.
So far, teaching in Singapore is what I hoped teaching abroad would be when I first moved to Malaysia nearly a year ago. (A lot has happened in a year, eh?) I’m beginning to understand some of the frustrations that returning teachers have with school, and they’re really not a surprise. However, we have books and supplies and materials and technology and a resource budget, so I really can’t complain. Compared to the year I just had, literally anything is better. Furthermore, it’s been so much fun to talk about the relevance of history and the importance of understanding culture in a room full of students from all over the world. In a class of 16, 14 countries were represented. I just can’t get over how darn cool that is, and how exciting it is to hear everything these kids have experienced. They’re so worldly that it’s a little bit scary. And so diverse, from every perspective expect socio-economic; homogeneity there is going to make for some interesting conversations, I suspect.
Equally importantly, I’m feeling very comfortable in Singapore. I think I’ve figured out the least stressful/most productive way to do my grocery shopping, which is a big step toward being a local. It seems more economical to get as much as possible at the very close, very large FairPrice, which is a local supermarket chain, drop everything off at home, and then head to the largest Cold Storage, a grocery store catering to expats of all nationalities. When possible, I’ll pick up my paper goods (toilet paper, tissues, paper towels) at one of the many Chinese shops at the MRT station closest to my apartment; it’s much cheaper that way.
Socially, I’m happy! Of course, I miss Mitch terribly; it’s hard for us to talk on a regular basis because we both start the day early and his has been ending very late. It doesn’t help that I turn my phone off at work, either, so texting during my morning/his evening doesn’t work. Other than the huge element of missing Mitch, though, things are great. Being at such a large school means that I already have multiple social groups with whom to do different things. I’ve learned that meeting at the hawker center closest to school for food and cheap beer is a regular feature of Friday nights, so it’s a lot of fun to see people who I met over orientation but have never seen at school since. Otherwise, I haven’t done a whole lot yet, but it’s been good. Saturday was spent doing some work in a coffee shop with a friend and then having dinner in Little India with a group that she organized – can’t go wrong with garlic naan and aloo gobi!
The real question now, is when will we start to travel?! I’ll bring that up after we get paid. That’s definitely a prerequisite. I’m thinking mid-September might be a good time for a weekend away. Bali, perhaps?
As it’s the beginning of a new school year in a new country and all the students and teachers have returned from the various countries where they all spent their summer break, it should be no surprise that I’m sick. I woke up with a tickle in my throat last Monday that turned into a really terrible cold. I even took sinus medicine! For the first time ever! I felt much better when I woke up on Saturday, and then I got a phone call from Dad and realized that my voice sounded like a squeaky toy. That didn’t stop me from socializing, but waking up this morning with hardly a voice at all did. It was disappointing to turn down kaya toast and pedicures in favor of being a recluse, but it was probably better. At least I didn’t make my lack of voice any worse!
I’m currently drinking (yet another cup of) tea with honey and hoping my voice magically comes back in the morning. I’ll just leave you with a very typical example of a Hindu temple. We passed this one when we were walking in Little India last night: