Expected and Unexpected Good-byes

Home Sweet HomeIn less than two weeks, Mrs BSM and I will be boarding the plane and leave our Dubai-life. And that is fine (most of the time, at least). There are a lot of things I will miss about Dubai but it helps that our new destination is beautiful Oman, which is just a few hours down the road. We are in the process of saying good-bye to people and places. And while I know that this is necessary, I have never been good with good-byes. It is so much simpler to just sneak away but I know from experience that it is only easy in the short term. So I try my best in between organising the move, closing down bank accounts and trying to get a head start on setting up our new life in Oman. The confusing but familiar mix of excitement and sadness, joy and worry is starting to kick in properly now. Over the past 9 years, I have moved house nine times and have lived in four different countries on three different continents. My one constant, location-wise, have been summers and Christmas holidays spent at home at my parents’ house. With all the moving, uncertainty and new beginnings, it feels so good to get back to a proper home once or twice a year. So it came as a bit of a shock to my system when my parents announced that they will be downsizing (as in moving into a 1-bedroom apartment downsizing) and moving away from the area I spent a large part of my childhood and youth in. I knew they were thinking of it but it was a “five-year-plan” type of thought – there was certainly a longer time-frame involved than the three months that are looking likely. While I can fully understand their reasons for the impending move, I, quite selfishly do not want them to move. I find the thought quite upsetting that this will be my last summer in – and my last visit to – my childhood home. We moved in when I was ten and have so many fond memories of it. I know every nook and cranny of the house. My cat spent all of her life in the house and when she died, we buried her in the garden. I know and love the neighbourhood, the beautiful view, the cosiness. The countryside it sits in is simply stunning and I have so many happy memories of countless walks, runs and bike rides. With all the good-byes I knew were coming, this one was very unexpected. And it will be the hardest by far. I am in my early thirties and many people my age will have already built or bought their own home, or at least have found a long-term, physical home. As a global nomad of sorts, my view of home is more a psychological one and less of a physical one. I am at home where my husband is, I feel at home when seeing my close family and old friends. And then there is my parents’ house, which has been the physical and geographical home in between all of my moves and during holidays. So many of the expats I know have a base somewhere, a place to come home to during the holidays and “in between” countries. An anchor point that gives stability to an otherwise transient life. It is a place where things are familiar and easy. It makes transitions so much easier if you know that you have a home to go back to for some respite when things are difficult. Our long-term plan is to build our own base somewhere but we are not yet in the position to do so. And until we are, I cannot shake the feeling that I will be feeling just this little bit more lost during the transition process.

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What a term this has been …

Four days into my spring break and the stress of the term just gone is beginning to slowly, sloooowly lift as I finally am getting enough sleep again – not to mention the relaxing hours spent reading in the sun/shade/on the sofa. Happiness!

The time has simply flown past – I cannot believe it has been over two months since my last post. So much has happened since then. Continue reading

Dear Mr/Mrs Principal, I am writing to apply …

When working in international schools, every once in a while (or, in some schools, quite frequently), people will get itchy feet again. Time to move on, time for a new adventure. Just like in the “normal” teaching job hunt, you will keep an eye out for jobs appearing early on. You sign up to newsletters, and job agencies. And just like looking for any other new job, it can be exciting dreaming about the new places and countries and continents you could move to. It can be frustrating to fill in forms and wait to hear back. It can be fun to imagine what it would be like to work in this new place. And sometimes, it can be heartbreaking. Today has been a heartbreak day.

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Time to relax …

Christmas in DubaiThe last few weeks of the previous term were packed with marking and parent evenings. At the same time I managed to acquire my first cold in ages, huzzah. All in all, it was very tiring and I was really looking forward to the winter break.

At some point during summer, Mr BSM and I had decided to stay in Dubai for Christmas. Our current contracts are coming to an end and we have decided not to renew for another year for a variety of reasons. Looks like we will be moving country again in the summer (so excited)! We are now trying to make the best of our remaining seven months here. So the motto of our winter break has been to enjoy a little bit of Dubai every day.

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It has been a while …

Life has kept me very busy these past … weeks? Months? A long time. Since our trip to India, my school has undergone its yearly inspection process. A manic week that is preceded by two to three 75+ hour working weeks. It was tiring, to say the least and it has been a great relief to go back to our usual routine.

So I thought I would talk a bit about our holiday. Amazing memories, though it already seems a lifetime ago.

KeralaThis post is somewhat picture-heavy. Apologies in advance 🙂

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Teaching and Learning, the Flipped Way

This academic year has brought with it an interesting challenge – teaching almost an entire GCSE course in just one year, rather than the usual 2 to 3. And on group rotation, too. There is a lot of material to be covered in every lesson but lecturing is not really an option, unless you want the pupils to fall asleep while giving yourself a throat ache from speaking too much. Couple this with two-hour lessons, which render the traditional way of teaching pretty much impossible (a good thing anyway, in my opinion), and you know something has got to change. My school encourages blended learning and use of ICT in lessons as much as possible, but there are not always enough ipads and laptops. This can make internet-dependent tasks somewhat challenging. I had plenty of time to think things over during the summer holidays and managed to come up with a plan:

I decided to give flipped lessons another try. Continue reading

Weekend Joys

Before moving out here, Mr BSM and me had great plans for our weekends. Dubai has a lot to offer to while away your time – and to spend your money on, too. We were thinking of brunches and dinners and day-trips and outdoor activities. I think a sailing course was mentioned once or twice. The reality is that, come the weekend, we are often too tired and exhausted to be rushing from one thing to another. And, to be perfectly honest, brunches have turned out to be not exactly my kind of entertainment. I am not a heavy drinker by any means. In fact, alcohol puts me to sleep almost immediately, which makes for a very boring day out. This turns a brunch into nothing more than an extremely expensive meal. Don’t get me wrong;I love food, but there is a limit.

As it turns out, my favourite thing to do on Dubai weekends, is to head to the park first thing in the morning. Every Friday during the “winter” (those months during which you do not end up melting into a puddle), our favourite park puts on an organic farmers market. Amazing. And so we often find ourselves spending many a relaxing hour reading and lazing about in the park, enjoying the gorgeous food, the sunshine and the relaxing atmosphere. Sadly, we are still in the melt-into-a-puddle kind of weather phase, so staying close to anywhere that provides the gentle hum and subsequent, albeit often not quite so gentle, cooling of the temperature of an a/c unit is highly advisable.

The weekend just gone was meant to include a spa day but that had to be sacrificed in favour of holiday organisation. We are planning to travel to India in the end of October (so excited!), and still have a number of things to be sorted out for the trip. This includes our visas. We decided to be organised about the whole thing and drove into the somewhat traffically challenged part of town. After waiting in line a huddle for what must have been about 30 minutes, but felt more like five days, we finally proceeded to the desk that would issue our waiting number tag for one of the counters. We were confident about the completeness of our paper work. Said completeness of paper work turned out to be irrelevant:

“You are traveling in a month?! You are here too early. Come back 2.5 weeks before you travel.”

Me: “But you just said it could take up to 8 working days to get our passports back to us. What if there’s a delay?”

– “No worries. It will be on time.”

Gulp. Not my usual approach to travel planning. But alright then. We are planning on being sneaky and trying again 3 weeks prior to our flight.

Dubai, Year Two

I am almost a month into my second year in Dubai. What a strange experience it has been so far. This is my third international move since being old enough to make my own decisions, and it has by far been the hardest yet. But slowly, very slowly, this city is turning into home, if just for the time being. I love the light in the evenings, the view of the sun setting over the skyline. Feeling the heat of the sun, followed by the much welcomed relief of the a/c in the summer. One of my favourite things here is spending time near the sea, looking out over palm trees and the beach while drinking Moroccan tea. I am cool like that. On the other hand, it is strange to be cooped up inside for such long stretches at a time because I am, simply put, too much of a wuss to spend more than a few minutes outside. Very much looking forward to the weather cooling down enough to be able to spent our Fridays in the park again. Greenery is one of the things I miss the most out here and park-days bring some relief.

My aim for this school year had been to have a bit more of a work-life balance, and trying to keep my weekends free, or nearly free. 2.5 weeks into term and I can whole-heartedly declare the mission a complete and utter fail with about 150 hours worked already. Ah well. I will try again next term. And this weekend, we have decided to make some time to get pampered. Bring on a relaxing massage! Cannot wait!

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An Introduction

Bookworm turned Scientist turned teacher. Third Culture Kid. Expat in Dubai. Get very excited when the Great British Bake Off is on TV. Coincidentally, also love baking. Things that make me happy: Mr BSM. Sunshine. The smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. Waking up early on a day off. A good book in one hand, a cup of tea in another. Summer evenings, autumn days. My parents’ cooking. Wrapping up in a blanket when it is cold outside. Christmas lights. Learning. New adventures.

 –  Mrs BSM:)