3. Out of the frying pan into the fire: My first week teaching English in China


A quite leafy neighbourhood surrounds my school, a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle. A quiet leafy neighbourhood surrounds my school, a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle.

One of the unique aspects of working for True China is that they don’t require you to complete any TEFL course, another is that you have no idea what level the students are at or their previous curriculum before entering the classroom, To compensate for my lack of any formal training or knowledge of my pupils I spent weeks collecting as many computer based and physical resources as I could, before leaving Scotland. Lesson plans, PowerPoints, flash cards, game ideas, classroom management books, children’s books, Scottish toys, pictures of Scotland, pictures of shops, pictures of my house, pictures of me – I had it all.

On the left you can see one of my classes working quietly. When I tried to take the same photo from the front of the class moments later the left picture was the result. Rookie mistake. [LEFT} One of my classes working quietly.[RIGHT]  Seconds later when they realised I was taking photos. Rookie mistake. But nothing can quite prepare you for standing up in front of…

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I’m Really Still Alive

Hello All!

I’m really still alive! I’ve been busy trying to keep up with everything going on this Spring, from keeping up with classes so I can graduate to getting everything figured out so I can leave for Thailand.

Yes, I’m actually still going!

This will just be a quick update, but hopefully soon I will be back to regular programming!

Before that happens I just wanted to let you guys know that I bought my plane ticket! Woo! I leave May 21st!

Now, I just have million other things to do.

Like getting my Visa and selling my car.

And graduating…

I’m pulling my hair out on that one.

I’m also taking an online TEFL class, so hopefully in a few weeks I will let you guys know about that.

Well, I guess that is all for now!

Chiang Mai, Thailand Update

So two Saturdays ago I got accepted.

Commence spazzing out

…and anxiety officially setting in.

When I received the email I was so happy (and still am) but within a few moments, equal parts of fear and anxiety also came over me.

Not only did I get accepted, but I already know what I am teaching -Beginning and Intermediate English, and Composition for the third year students.

I basically got what I wanted.

But I’m still freaked out. When I got the email I started tearing up for happiness…and then started crying out of fear as the feeling of ‘what the heck did I get myself into?!?!’ came over me.

What I need right about now...

What I need right about now…

I mean, besides forcing my little brother to play school with me, I have never taught in a ‘classroom’ setting…and now I’m teaching 3 classes, and am having to prepare all of the curriculum (commence freak out #2).

I mean, what am I doing…do I know what I’m doing? No, not at all…but I’ll overcome it, right? I can do this!…?

I honestly don’t even know where I’m going with this post.

But I thought I should let every know that I still exist, and that I haven’t abandoned this blog…and that instead of just talking about wanting/hoping to do something…I will actually be doing it.

Crazy, I know.

So, you might be wondering (as I still am) what I am doing prepare for the classes I’ll be teaching.

Let’s just say Amazon and I have become best-buds in the past week. My wish list is freakin’ ginormous with books for myself and possibly for my future students.

So I’ll be doing a lot of reading -both books and blogs, and once winter break is here, I’ll be starting a TEFL online course. While I know many who have gone there without taking TEFL courses, I feel (that as a perfectionist) I must, to the best of my abilities, prepare as much as I can. While I know that I’ll be completely unprepared in most ways, it is very important for me to try to do what I can and it really helps the nerves.

So yeah, that’s what I’m up to -freaking out.

But I know I’ll be okay…and when I leave in six months, a whole year of the hardest personal growth I will have ever gone through (so far) will start. I am scared but have faith that somehow, this completely unqualified girl will push through and become a better person.

Isn’t that what life is all about? Becoming a better you?

I don’t know about others, but I’m looking forward to meeting the future and better Julia.

Oh, and if you have any tips for me, you’re more than welcome to comment or message me…I would really appreciate it!

Thailand, here I come…?

I realize that it has been nearly 20 days since I last posted, and I know from my vast wealth of blogging knowledge that that is a big NO NO.

BUT. I’m a student with really hard classes, a job…and I actually like to sleep.

While I know I have only posted once on Guatemala (if you could call that a real post), I do have some in the works…that I’m hoping to get out (one of them) in a no later than a week and a half…? I’m really going to try.

While these past several weeks have been full of lost of homework, tests, projects etc. something supremely awesome happened that actually has to do with what this blog is supposed to be about.

I sent in my application to the school in Thailand this past Wednesday.

Proof that I actually did it!

Proof that I actually did it!

I’ve never had to send something like this, so when I got to the post office I was a little confused. Thankfully, the post office staff was kind enough to direct me to the right envelope.  There’s a big difference in spending $5.00 and $22.00, especially when the day of arrival is only by a day. I don’t want to seem too eager.



More of my exciting walk to the post office! It’s literally a 2 minute walk!

More field...

More field…

And me after mailing off!

All done!

All done!

Now, I know many (or at least a few) are wondering the dreaded what-happens-if-I’m-not-accepted scenario occurs.  Well, I’ve thought about it…and I really think I’ll still go somewhere regardless…but maybe just wait to after the summer. I might still go to Thailand, or maybe even go back to Guatemala for a little time first.

I’m not worried though, especially since the job I’m applying for isn’t competitive at all. I probably haven’t mentioned it before, but what I’m applying for is on a voluntary basis.  I will not get paid, unless I plan to stay on a second year.  While that might sound like a sucky deal, I don’t think it is. The school is non-profit and gives full-ride scholarships to all of its students…so it probably can’t afford to pay lots of teachers.

Despite this though (the whole I’m not worried thing) I randomly will ask members of my family, “Do you think I’ll get accepted?” or “When do you think I’ll find out?”

I think I’m annoying them.

I know I only sent it off Wednesday, and it only got to their P.O. Box Friday (its in California)…I can’t help but feel as if it has been forever.

And Ever.

But I think that’s mostly due to the fact that this is all-I-have-been-looking-forward-to for nearly 2 1/2 years.

I can wait a few weeks to find out, right?

Yes, but I can’t help but check my email twenty times a day.

The Beautiful Doors and Gates of Guatemala…

Hey! So I’m back, and as you can tell, I was unable to post anything…it was so hectic, and its about to be even more so with school and such.

While in Guatemala I visited San Antonio, Panajachel, and Santa Catarina and I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful and extremely colorful the gates and doors were. While I was unable to take as many pictures as I wanted -I hope you enjoy what I have to offer!

On the way to our house...

On the way to our house…

In Santa Catarina

In Santa Catarina


love it!




walk up to the house…


one of my friend’s favorites


up to the house…


thought this would make a great pic!

on the way to house...

on the way to house…

not really 'nice' but a cool photo

not really ‘nice’ but a cool photo

Not a door/gate but still pretty cool

Not a door/gate but still pretty cool




One of my favs...

One of my favs…

Fancy door AND window...

Fancy door AND window…

loved it

loved it

more blue...

more blue…


sooo skinny

sooo skinny

Thanks! I hope you enjoyed it! More posts coming soon!

Have you ever come across some really cool doors or

gates that you just had to take pictures of?

Update #2

Yep, that’s right…this is not my post on camp.

But I seriously have a good excuse.

My files were mysteriously deleted and then my brother spilled water on the laptop…and I don’t think I backed anything up on the internet.

I know, how stupid.

And, what is even stupider (yes, I am aware ‘stupider’ is not a real word) is that I deleted all the pictures from my phone.

Extremely lame, I know.

BUT, on the other hand -I am leaving tomorrow! Though it might as well be tonight since my flight leaves at 6:30 a.m…which means waking up at 3 a.m. -so whats the point of sleeping anyway, right?

The previous two years we have gone to Mexico, so in celebration, tonight my brother is making Dirty Monkeys.

And what is a Dirty Monkey you ask? Just think Banana smoothie with alcohol, so basically all sorts of awesome.

Sorry, I do not have a picture…but I’m sure I’ll get some this coming week.

The first year we were in Mexico we discovered them only the last two or three days we were at the hotel, and by the end the hotel had run out of bananas…even though they had Banana trees everywhere.

This last year we got smart.  Several of us went to the local Puerto Vallarta Walmart and bought a whole crate of Bananas, a bottle of Kahlua, and a pitcher.  So genius.

So instead of my post about camping in Beaver Creek State park, you get this completely random post.

Proof that I’m leaving tomorrow.

we are obviously ready...

we are obviously ready…


While we are in Guatemala we will be visiting an orphanage, and lets just say I went a little crazy with buying things.

doesn't look like much, but it is jammed! Also some other stuff in the other part of my suitcase

doesn’t look like much, but it is jammed! Also some other stuff in the other part of my suitcase

My brothers did too, and even bought this hat-

Hey there sexy...

Hey there sexy…

But mom said no.

Ooh, by the way -did you notice my new camera?



I know these still aren’t the most spectacular pictures, but I’m pretty technologically impaired.  My mom suggested I read the manual -but who actually does that?

Also, another awesome thing is that I should be posting my first Banana post while I’m there (or at least shortly after).

So, I’m going to go to bed now…3 a.m. wake-up call awaits me!

Its that Time of Year Again…

I am so swamped guys…

Like incredibly swamped and its about to get a lot worse.

See, I started school August 22nd -so not that far into it, but remember -I’m leaving for Guatemala this month –two weeks to be exact.

I’ll be gone from Wednesday the 18th to Sunday the 29th.

This is about how much I have to do...

This is about how much I have to do…

and then I remembered I could still be doing stuff like this...

and then I remembered I could still be doing stuff like this…

That’s a lot of school to miss, especially during my senior year as I battle senioritis and a stupid (and ONLINE *grumble* *grumble*) Literary Criticism class that I’m sure I’ll loathe by the end of the semester.  Its entitled ‘Multicultural Literature’ -so I thought I’d be you know, reading a lot of stuff from multiple cultures (but maybe I took it too literal? Darn misleading class titles) but so far I only feel as if I’ve been studying Marxism and other psychoanalytical criticisms that I just love o-so-much.

I thought I escaped that stuff when I took my last senior level literary criticism requirement last semester.

Sorry for the digression, so anyway…camp ended well over a month ago and I still have not posted about it.

I promise, I don’t procrastinate with my school work this much. My goal is to have it posted this coming Sunday, for reals.

After that post, I might possibly post one more before I go to Guatemala, but I’m not making any promises. Not that anyone who reads my blog will care -but I will.

I know I tend to be one of those people who starts things and sometimes doesn’t finish -but I’m not allowing that with this blog.  So, if I promise to write another post and don’t, I will figuratively beat myself up for it…and who wants to do that before they get to go someplace cool?  It’ll be hard enough keeping up with school.

I WILL be posting a few times while in Guatemala though!  I want to publish stuff as fresh as possible.  I know when it comes to finishing my camp post I’m going to have a hard time remembering all the details I want to.

Human memory really really sucks.

So yeah, I’m sorry for my somewhat ranting, but I thought I’d feel better if I let myself and others know whats going on.

Until Sunday!

Some Pics that I Love

So, while I work on my other posts from camp I thought I would share some of my favorite pictures I have taken within the last year or so.

My first lovely picture is from my trip the summer before this summer.  My younger brother and I traveled to Springfield, Illinois to see our cousin and eventually went on to Chicago.  Our last bus stop (Yeah, we took a Bus) was in St. Louis and from there we took a train.   This was the view we got of the Arch…

This angle really gives a different perspective...

This angle really gives a different perspective…

A few years before that when my family went to St. Louis we actually went in the Arch…definitely a different experience!

The next one is also from that Bus trip.  The day before we arrived in St. Louis we stopped in Memphis for the night.  Instead of staying in our hotel we went out and explored the sights! Definitely some interesting sights…


Street Performers!

We really wanted to try some local food that Memphis is known for, but we definitely did NOT want to be walking around downtown after dark.

This next beauty just made me giggle. The same summer I went to Chicago, several of my friends and I did a rode trip down to Austin, Texas.  This little building definitely brings “Hope” to mind (for those who might not be able to read it, above the door it says “True Hope”).



This next picture is definitely more recent than the rest.  Last Monday I went with my Aunt and little Cousin to a “Tea Party” with a lot of other little girls.  Really, its nothing to write about…but when I saw the front door I couldn’t resist.  First I saw the name “Into My Garden” and had a giggle fit, but then when I saw “Nooks ‘N Krannies”…I was gone.   If you’re lost -just look up Song of Solomon chapter 4.



And if you don’t ‘get’ “Nooks ‘N Krannies”….then I just don’t know what to say…

My last, but certainly not least…maybe I’ll make this a series?  When my brother and I were at the mall, he took a Justin Bieber book and put it here…it was pretty genius.  I know this has nothing to do with travel, but I really couldn’t help myself…



I AM writing a post on camp! I promise!  In fact it is the one I am posting next…at least I hope so.

Have you seen anything that made you get into a giggle fit?

If you have any pictures/posts you think I would like -let me know!

If Trader Joe’s & Central Market had a Super Baby It Would Be…

It would most definitely be Jungle Jim’s…aka just about the coolest grocery store ever.

Obviously, as an International Food Market its going to be big and really really cool inside, so yeah, shall we take a tour?

Oh, and just a heads up -my pictures don’t do justice, and I missed a LOT of stuff…so sorry.



Here’s the entrance, which is impressive and totally cool by itself…sorry folks, that train/tram does not move.  If it did and took you around inside (like how some Zoo’s have)…then I wouldn’t even know what to say.  Talk about my mind being blown.

So you walk in, and after passing a few shops (such as one’s dedicated to oil alone) you see the bathrooms…



And seriously, it takes you a moment…but then you start to see SEVERAL people walking in and out and then you decide you have to see for yourself…

And no, I do not have a picture…probably the biggest regret of my trip, but they are nice.   I guess you are just going to have to check them out for yourself. You’re welcome.

So then after you get over the general awe of the bathrooms you realize you still have a whole store to explore.  Which way to go?

Pick randomly, I say…



And its really nice, because the decorations kind of tell you where you are…and off in the distance -is that some sort of truck? Well yes it is, and that’s where we are headed next.


Welcome to where you will find all the hot sauce and salsa your little heart desires!

Showing a very very small  portion of what was there.

Showing a very very small portion of what was there.

It was pretty fabulous and fun to look at all the different kinds and labels, because there were definitely some very quirky ones.

My Dad and I have this thing, where if I go someplace cool I try to get him a hot sauce with a ‘babe’ on it.

So when I saw this, I just had to get it…

How lady like...

How lady like…

When I showed it to him, I got a head shake, so I knew that I had accomplished what I wanted to.  After a few days of being back, I asked how it was —apparently not as ‘hot’ as the picture portrayed but overall pretty good.

And here is some more if you are you know, totally addicted to the stuff-

Just in case you need it by the jug full..

Just in case you need it by the jug full…

And that brings us to the most shocking part; they actually have some locked up in a glass case…which I thought was pretty weird until I saw the prices.

under lock & key

under lock & key

And since it is probably hard to tell in this picture, here is a close up of the most expensive one I saw-

pffft. That doesn't look hot at all.

pffft. That doesn’t look hot at all.

$129.99? No big deal.

The next place we went to was the produce area!  And of course it was massive, again the picture does no justice, but I think you get the point.


And just because…



And some nuts…

That's a lot of nuts!!

That’s a lot of nuts!!

And yes, I understand you most likely won’t ‘get’ the caption under the picture.  Any “Kung Pow” fans out there? No? Okay, moving on…

And the coolest part ever!!!

My friend is in the striped sweater.

My friend is in the striped sweater.

I thought it was very cool that they had an area where you could buy produce for a reduced price.

The next place we headed was to the Deli/Butcher…or just overall meat section.

Love the 'buildings' on top

Love the ‘buildings’ on top

I didn’t get any close up pictures, but there was a wide variety of seafood available.

More meat...

More meat…

And Because it was right by the meat and very awesome.



The next place we headed to was the cheese section.  There was so much cheese, I really didn’t know what to do with myself (since I consider myself a cheese addict) and it was overwhelming.  It wasn’t just pick what kind of cheese you wanted but what country you wanted it from.


“You want smoked Gouda? Okay…now which country do you want it from? You only have a choice of 50.”

More cheese...

More cheese…

No close up picture (again) and seriously after this trip I realized how much I need to invest into a proper camera and not just rely on my phone.  The quality is decent, but man, it eats up my battery so fast!

But anyway, just imagine that there is a ginormous piece of cheese far off in that picture…

The next place we passed through was the candy area (and yes, I only have one picture…trust me, I’m getting annoyed at myself for having to mention the lack of proper pictures).



Every six year old’s dream come true…

And this is the only picture I have from the bakery -that wasn’t really a part of the bakery.

My dream come true...

My dream come true…

I’m sorry, but when I saw this cute little stand I could care less about the ‘other’ bakery that had absolutely nothing for me to try, but to only lust after. And its NOT good to lust, so I saved myself and you.

I got a chocolate cupcake and was not disappointed.

And here are some random things…


The Hemp, because my older brother always talks about wanting to grow it. Heh.

And because I couldn’t believe it!!!

Ostrich Egg!

Ostrich Egg!

Seriously, that is one sexy egg, and for only $39.99…

So that’s the end of my Jungle Jim’s tour!  Like I said before, there was so much more there that would have taken a post at least 4 times this one to give you an adequate feel of the place.  I suggest if you happen to be near Cincinnati, and more so the Batavia area -that you head on over.

It was a lot of fun to check out, and I totally look forward to visiting again (hopefully) in December.

Also, they have sour cream and onion flavored crickets!!  A guy brought them to camp and I totally tried one.  It was weird…it tasted like fish scales with an after taste of what could maybe be sour cream and onion.

And a better look at the train/tram thingy-



And yes, I will eventually write about the actual camp I went to!

Have you ever been to a grocery store or department store that

blew your mind due to its uniqueness?