Sunday, 30 December 2012

The end of the year draws near.

As the year draws to a close, it seems fitting to reflect on my one-year-old blog, and therefore also the year that was 2012.
When January came my blog was less than a month new: a project inspired by an avid blogger and friend I met in Spain, to chart my way through Stephen Fry's The Ode Less Travelled. It's hard to believe now that this is where it all started. Stephen, in his ultimately intellectual way, baffled and terrified me through my first thirteen blog posts, He also travelled with me to Winter Camp in Korea (brrr... just thinking about the weather in Korea at this time of year makes me cold!)
This year was meant to be slightly less eventful than 2011 in terms of travelling around, but as it turns out 2012 was the year of 23 planes.
In January we left Korea for Bangkok, which ended after a few days in having a bag stolen. This caused some significant inconvenience, including having only one new shoe (poor Lee) and no Ode Less Travelled to write about. In some ways I was relieved, as Stephen Fry had been blowing my mind, and reading his book was extremely difficult.
From the ashes, my more honest and journal-like blog was born. It saw me go to Chiang Mai, ride on elephants and then put myself through a CELTA, a painful experience made good mostly because of the great people I met. I am now thoroughly glad we decided to do it, as it opened a lot of doors. At the time we thought we had a job lined up that didn't require a teaching qualification but as this year has shown, you never know what's around the corner, and definitely shouldn't put all of your eggs in one basket. I wouldn't have done most of the things I did this year if not for completing my CELTA.
After the end of the course we had some further adventures in Laos, tubing, meeting new people and going on crazy bus rides.
The news came then that our job was much less than certain and that we wouldn't be starting on the expected date. So when we arrived in Madrid, we didn't even leave the airport, instead booking a flight (or two) to get home and surprise everyone. Three weeks later we were back in Madrid, for the worst week EVER on some awful training that had me so happy when I was finally 'fired.' Even though I live in the strange country that is Saudi, I still count my lucky stars that Vaughan Systems did not take me on as one of their underpaid, overworked 'freelancers.' Screw that.
Determined to find a job in Spain somehow, we then bought ourselves some time by going to Sidges near Barcelona to help Val and Andrew with some odd jobs, through workaway. It was an interesting two weeks, in which we painted walls, cleared clutter and cleaned up a pond, in exchange for lovely food, lots of drink and some great company. I would recommend this website for anyone who wants to travel, needs somewhere to stay and isn't afraid of hard work.
Admitting defeat in Spain, we then went back home to re-think. Our sights became set on the Middle East, our only proviso being 'no way are we going to Saudi Arabia.' But as it turns out, most of the more desirable Middle Eastern destinations such as the UAE require higher qualifications and much more experience than we have.
And so, slowly but surely, our attentions turned to the KSA. After deciding maybe it was a good, and possibly our only option, we all know what happened. We went to my friends' wonderful wedding and decided (whilst under the influence of alcohol- isn't that when all the best decisions are made?) to go to Vegas and get married.
And so we did. If you missed it the first time round, you can read all about it here.
I was at home much more than expected this year, which was a bit stressful as it always is when you're unemployed. But also it was great. I got to spend lots of time with my family, most importantly with my two lovely nieces. I also got to celebrate my Grandparents 60 year wedding anniversary.
Desperate for money and a change of scenery, I ended up doing a summer school in Cambridge, a pretty hardcore job that I will hopefully not have to repeat. One positive thing about this experience, however, was that I met some nice new people and taught a multi-lingual group of terrific kids from around the globe.
The result of some f*ck ups from Saudi (the beginning of many, I can now see), I finally followed Lee here and started my job. Shortly after arriving I received the sad news that my darling cat Freddie had died. I think my emotions will have to deal with this all over again on my visit back home in January.
Then it was Eid and we went to Sri Lanka for a holiday, which I felt like I needed even though I'd only been in Saudi for such a short time! So far this present adventure has been a bit of a roller coaster, but happily it has only got better and I can now say I at least feel partly at home here.
In conclusion, 2012 was a year of uncertainty, adventure and new challenges. Looking back over the whole year and seeing how interesting and at times crazy it was, I find myself excited about what the next year will bring!

How was 2012 for you?

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