Sunday, February 15, 2009

Soup Noodles and Kraft Dinner - January 2009

I don't have much to tell this month. It's the slow season for ESL, and I gather there isn't much work available. That being the case, I decided to take a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course. Although I already had TESOL training and more than a year of experience, I didn't have an "officially recognised" certificate, which is apparently necessary for a lot of the jobs in this city. So I enrolled in a month-long programme, and thereafter my days were mostly taken up with classes, and my spare time with homework.

Even though my primary reason for taking the course was necessity, I ended up enjoying it quite a lot. I had a fun teacher and nice classmates (both of them; it was a small class!). Although I've had a lot of teaching practice recently, it's been a while since I actually got any teacher training. Being back in school gave me a chance to learn about different methodologies, collect some new lesson ideas, and get feedback on my teaching style. The most important thing I learned is that I still have a long way to go to become a really good teacher, but at least I have some good ideas of what to work on. Hopefully I can get back to work soon, so I can start putting those ideas into practice.

Obviously my other reason for wanting to be back at work is so I can earn money. As long as I'm unemployed, I can't afford to do much of anything interesting. Things were especially tight at the beginning of the month, when I was trying to make up for over-spending at Christmas time. There were a couple of weeks where I was basically living on soup noodles and Kraft Dinner. Nutritionally disgraceful, I know, but brilliant financially!

The big news event of the month was the presidential inauguration of Barak Obama. In the week that followed, he and his family must have appeared on the cover of every single magazine in the country. After one day I was already sick of seeing them smile at me. Doesn't he ever get tired of having his picture taken? He was also Time's Person of the Year, and appeared on the cover of the Economist seven times in the last twelve months - I counted. Of course, despite all the P.R., the really issue is what he does now that he's been sworn in. So far he's already signed an order to close the Guantánamo Bay prison within a year, but he seemed a bit slow off the mark on the war in Gaza. He also has some kind of "stimulus package" to help prop up the U.S. economy, but I'm no good at talking about financial matters.

In related news, we got our government back here in Canada. Michael Ignatieff is the new leader of the Liberal Party, and so far he's not so keen on his predecessor's coalition plan, so it looks like our current government is sticking around for the foreseeable future.

Chinese New Year came at the end of the month. Obviously it isn't as big an event here as it is in Hong Kong, and I didn't do much to celebrate, but I did go out and see the parade in old Chinatown. It was pretty good, and I had a much better view of it than I had of the Hong Kong parade, so I enjoyed it a lot. The only crummy thing was the weather, which was cold and rainy.

Okay, I haven't seen any movies, or read any books (well, I've been reading books, but I haven't finished any), or been out to any performances, so there really isn't anything else to say.