Sunday, 25 January 2015

Gap Year 1

It's been almost a months since I boarded the first of 3 flights that brought me to the other side of the world to begin my 'gap year'. So, here I am, in my new home (I'm boarding with a family and have my own room and bathroom and use of the kitchen-it's working well), looking out my window at the cool, crisp morning (it's -4 degrees today) and blogging.

Here's what I've been up to so far.

I arrived in London for 5 days to get myself set up with a bank account, sign contracts and do a bit of sightseeing. I discovered some museums I hadn't visited last time I was here, got to see the NYE fireworks and watch the New Year's Day Parade (which was amazing and well worth being in London for!). The National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery were probably my favourite 'tourist' visits.

After my 5 days in London I packed my bags again and got on a train out to Oxfordshire to my new town, Henley-On-Thames. Henley is an old market town that dates from the 13th Century (if not earlier), so there is plenty of history here. It's a beautiful town on the Thames and is famous for its regatta in summertime. I'm living near the edge of town, as the school I am teaching at is nearby and borders onto the surrounding woodland, so it's about 20 minutes for me to walk into the town centre to do my shopping or catch the train somewhere.

I'm working at a local public school teaching English to Years 7-11. I have a full timetable and teach almost 200 students in a week, so I'm working hard to learn names and keep up with the marking and planning! The staff are very welcoming and helpful, so that's made the transition easier, but I'm keep having to ask questions (especially about the acronyms-everything has an acronym and I have no idea what they all stand for!). So far the students have been mostly well-behaved, although they are testing me out and seeing what they can get away with! I bribe them with showing the pictures of Australian wildlife or telling them stories of growing up in the 'jungle'.

So far I haven't been too far afield as I've been exploring Henley on my weekends, but I have been up to Oxford on the train. I'll certainly be going back there-the Oxford Castle is a great tour to do, and the museums, churches, libraries and tea shops are wonderful.

Words fail me to describe the rest, so I've included some photos to help me out! Any recommendations of places I absolutely have to go to while I'm living in the UK are welcome!