Wednesday, October 20, 2010

End of the 1st year in Bahrain - holidays!

End of the 1st year
The first year has flown by in a blitz of holidays and frantic teaching.  I’m not sure why the teaching always feels so pressured, even in the 2nd semester when there was only a one week break.  The Polytechnic is a very dynamic place with all sorts of major changes going on as place tries to gain a philosophical direction. The heat and humidity for about half the year makes life more challenging and exhausting.  When I left on holiday at the end of July it was like living in a convection oven – thank God for air conditioning.
I had a relaxing 6 hour flight to London, and then an expensive (£50) taxi fare to my cousins’ place (Jo and Tina + 2 daughters).  They were off on holiday in the South of France so I didn’t get to see them but I’d had some wonderfully inviting emails.  Getting internet was a challenge – I couldn’t work out how to get online so I could use my laptop, failed the Apple Mac IQ test and never worked out how they turn on, so set off to find an internet cafe.  Well, it seems most of them have shut down so I end up walking miles, following directions from helpful people in local pubs (but had to stop have a friendly drink with them).  I finally found one right at 8pm – the guy was just shutting up shop.  I managed to talk him into letting me have a 2 minute session to sort out some important messages.   After that night the helpful American neighbour let me use her computer to contact people and arrange a trip to Bristol.  I had some friends there I’d meet in Bahrain, and had arranged to meet with some researcher at the Bristol University about some research they were doing at the Polytechnic – all of which was worth the train fare.  It was great to be able walk around Kew garden and Richard’s park (which reminded me of Sherwood Forest – I expect Robin Hood to come by at any moment, especially rides do have track there).  Both parks are walking distance from Jo and Tina’s place – I couldn’t believe my luck.  I did get to have a lovely couple of days with the family on the way back to BH.
I took the train to Waterloo station and walked around London enjoying all the history and culture.  This is the only place in the world that I have not managed to get lost in!  I think know the place names from Monopoly helps, but also all the buildings are so different and interesting.  The Thames was another useful land mark, and the clear maps helped.  I took a tour of the city, went to some museums (bought a print of a Van Gough), and saw a live play (Sherlock Holmes secret).  The week flew by and I was off to Vancouver.
I then spent 6 weeks with my sister Bilie and her husband Lyle.  We had hoped to take a cruise to Alaska but by the time I arrived they had all filled up – it wasn’t meant to be.  We spent a lot of time down at their campsite which is just across the border, by Mt Baker.  We went to our 1st professional baseball game in Settle – not a great game but an interesting experience.  It is as much about the food as the game.  It seems I only go to such games overseas (7 a-side rugby –HK; soccer – Bahrain).  I also popped over to see an elderly friend (Pippa), who trained with my auntie.  She is amazing – 90 not out and looking really well in spite of bout with cancer a year ago.  I also was able to meet with the providers of a course I’d done online on dyslexia – it was really wonderful to be able spend some time with them.  I enjoy catching up with school friends and my family.  It was very therapeutic to chill, eat, drink and walk in the fresh air.
I have now completed two courses on dyslexia and have enrolled in a third course (2 from England and one from Canada).  I am ever hopeful that I will be able get an opportunity to help students here and then in NZ when I return.  It doesn’t feel like study as I have dyslexia and finding out more about it helps me to understand more about my learning differences and the strategies I developed over the years.  It also accounts for the lack of an internal compass and phonetics.
I have made 2 videos of the pictures from England and Vancouver (slowly increasing my skills).   Hopefully I will be able to attachment to some emails.
As ever,
Janet