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Saturday, February 27, 2010


This is my week and how my “plans” came about:

Monday afternoon: I had no clue of what I was doing or where I was planning on going. In the evening I realized I had to leave my apartment the next day. So I made some phone calls and reserved a room at a guesthouse in the city. I had to pack-up and leave the following morning and I felt great. It was definitely time to move, even if it was only to the other side of the city. I was such a sight for sore eyes though: I was traipsing along the roadside, in search of a rickshaw (=small 3-wheeled taxi‘s, for those who don’t know this already) and I was loaded up to the max with my luggage. I could hardly walk! I got laughed at, stared at, pitied and probably so much more of which I wasn’t aware, as I was too busy trying to stay on my legs and move ever so cautiously and slowly down the street to the nearest rickshaw. Hot and bothered, frustrated and ultimately challenged, is what I felt. But I got to my destination. And how happy I was! I felt great to be in a new place. It was so central and the area felt so much nicer. There were supermarkets to shop in, pavements to walk on, different eating-joints to choose from and fruit stalls just down the road. This was great!

Ever since Tuesday, something “big” has happened. “Big” in the sense that an opportunity has either arisen or I’ve made some sort of decision. As always, I find myself faced with having to make drastic choices. These are always choices between certain opportunities that come out of nowhere. They pop up and can turn my life upside down and, just as quickly as they arise, they also disappear. And the disappearing of the opportunities is usually down to my rash decision making.

I’ll cut straight to the case and tell you all: My priority right now, is to get a job. So Monday I heard that there was an internship I could take-up just outside of the city, in a college, for 1 or 2 months. I would be teaching college students. How cool!! I was excited. Then, Tuesday, I got a phone call from a German school in Chennai (which is a city around 12 hours from here, by train), saying they had a job for me if I wanted. The head of school, who I had only spoken to for the first time in my life, was putting so much pressure on me to take the job. I hadn’t even been interviewed yet! If I were to take the job, it would be a long-term position and I’d be teaching both English and German, or so I was told. I’d be starting “immediately” (which would probably mean within a month or so) and the perks were extremely good.

So, all day Tuesday the head of the school was on the phone to me, trying to persuade me to take the job. Wow! What’s with all the pressure dude!! Anyhow, I told him I had to meet with my trainer from the course, because he also had a job opportunity for me (teaching the college students), and once I’d spoken with him, I’d let the German school know my decision. The following day I had decided that maybe I could try do the internship with the college students for a month and then start the contract with the German school. My trainer was totally supportive of my decision and I felt that would work out perfectly!! This way, I’d gain more teaching experience before starting a steady long-term position, I’d brush-up on my German during my spare-time and my working visa would be processed in the meantime! How amazing things were falling into place. Or so it seemed, on Wednesday afternoon.

HOWEVER, Thursday I had an interview on Skype with the head of teaching from the German school and over the past 2 days it suddenly became clear that wires had gotten crossed. The conditions of the teaching position were different than what I had been told over the phone. I was expected to eventually start teaching Maths, geography, history.. Along side English and German.. Huuummmm. Suddenly Niamh wasn’t too sure if that’s what she wanted. To make matters worse, the interview was in German. Huummm.. Niamh hadn’t spoken German in 3 years so was very rusty.. Huuummmm. Could Niamh pull it off? She suddenly found herself trying to express all that she knew and felt and had discovered, in a language that wasn’t as familiar as it once was. This was so difficult and the relief that was felt once the interview was over, was enormous!

The interview felt to be disastrous. I only understood 70% of what she was saying. I was going to propose switching to English, but I didn’t want to admit my “incompetence”. I couldn’t express myself the way I wanted. I felt my confidence was being snatched. I was shrinking behind the computer screen, the webcam and the headset. And even though I felt all of this so strongly, they still wanted me to come to Chennai and meet them in person. I couldn’t believe it!! It’s okay for them to want that, BUT, did I want to? It’s all very well for them to expect me to come down and go with whatever they want, but what about what I want? I wasn’t sure if this position was for me. There were so many doubts at that point: the communication, the German, my ability to teach more than just languages, the lack of experience, the LONG-TERM contract, the stability I wasn’t sure was for me. And just the overall feeling I had when I was taking the interview.

This was Thursday evening. I had to sleep on it, before deciding anything rash. But on Friday I couldn’t stop myself from thinking quickly – that’s just what I do and could very well be my downfall. But heyho!! On Friday I thought to forget about the whole thing and just go for the short-term teaching positions - which can be anything for 2 or 3 months to 6 months. At this point in my travels, I’ve “created” a phobia towards committing to anything that could potentially stop me in my tracks. With short-term contracts there is of course less commitment, more freedom and the jobs which are solely focused on teaching English and not 5 other different subjects (which makes the stress way less too!!). I spent Friday alone. I was weighing-up my options. At the same time, I was eagerly waiting to hear from my trainer to discuss when the internship with the college students could be starting. That opportunity was feeling far better than the German school. I heard nothing, all day. From nobody. Suddenly, after days of negotiating and ringing people; all had gone quiet. Thankfully the German school was leaving me alone for now. But what about my trainer? Luckily last night, I got the phone call. It was 9pm. My trainer was saying: “Niamh, the starting date for the internship would be within 14 days. In the meantime you could go to Chennai and have the interview, see how you feel and if you decide to take up the German school and their offer, then you can drop this internship. If you decide not to go for the German school, the position is yours.”

My first reaction: I don’t want to go for the interview. But, hold your horses Niamh, there will be less “rash decision-making!” So I asked myself: do I want to go for this interview? Is my heart in it? Would it not be a waste of time, when I secretly had already decided not to go for it? Would I not just be leading them on by coming to their school? Huummm.. What do to, what to do!! That’s now the question. I haven’t gotten any further than this for now. I have to live a little more, for the story to unfold. It’s now Saturday morning, I’m still in the same guesthouse in Cochin and I’ve been awake since 4am. I was unable to sleep properly, because of 1 big fat noisy mosquito accompanied by my “distress” while figuring out what to do and where to go from here.

Time will tell and you will be the first to know.. or 2nd!!

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