Lapland has gone into administration. It was the best job an elf could wish for, and now it is no more. I am mourning the loss of Christmas today!
Lapland has gone into administration. It was the best job an elf could wish for, and now it is no more. I am mourning the loss of Christmas today!
I don’t know how I managed it, but somehow my stuttering, hesitating and babbling charmed the PGCE interviewer, and I have been offered a place!!
Today is my 23rd birthday, and I was feeling particularly old with nothing to show for myself when I received the email, the subject header of which was Application Decision. My immediate thoughts were of horror: They’re rejecting me on my birthday!!! I grudgingly opened the email to read the fantastic news! I will (one day) be a teacher!
The other good news is that I will be unemployed for the next year and a half until I complete the PGCE so this blog will remain for a lot longer yet!
I’ve received another rejection from a graduate scheme I spent a week filling out the form for. It was a gracious rejection and I’m grateful that they bothered to send one, but will someone please CUT ME A BREAK!?!
Well, Monday has been and gone and with it one of the worst experiences of my life! Everything that could possibly go wrong in an interview went wrong. At one stage I think I even answered “pass” to a question.
The day began with a test which was simple enough. I am genuinely passionate about keeping Shakespeare taught in schools, so translating my passion to paper in an argument for the playwright’s inclusion on the curriculum came naturally, but I got the immediate feeling that the tests were only going to be looked at to help the interviewers decide between borderline candidates. Next came the drama simulation, in which we had to imagine one of the candidates amongst our number was plastercine, and to mould him in whichever way we pleased. I felt ridiculous doing so, which I probably unwillingly communicated to my assessor. Following the drama simulation was an English simulation, in preparation for which we had been asked to read two books. During the simulation we were asked to choose between them, and so I decided to break the mould and argue for the more modern book in which swearing and suicide are key themes. Having discussed the matter with the teachers at the school in which I observed, I felt confident arguing a child’s need to learn about the dangerous realities of life within the confines of a safe environment. Unfortunately the assessor strongly disagreed.
Lastly there was the individual interview. Despite the fairly early position of the first letter of my surname in the alphabet, I was one of the last to be interviewed, which left me with a lot of time to fill beforehand, which I filled with nervous chatter with the other interviewees. I still can’t pinpoint what exactly went wrong with the interview itself. It was as if I managed to somehow leave my brain at the door. Firstly, my reference from the school had not arrived, which left the university in doubt that I had even completed the required pre-interview day in a school, let alone four! The interviewer asked me to list authors and literary pieces I had studied, and I could barely name Shakespeare, let alone the entire repertoire of my degree. She then asked me how I would explain a ‘clause’ to a class, at which point my mind went blank entirely, and I had to ask if we could move on to the next question. Of course at that point I knew I had fared abysmally and could not focus on the remainder of my answers, and at the end when she suggested we get back to the question about the clause, I only just managed to stammer, “I know what it is, but my mind has gone blank.” I left the room fighting back tears.
All in all, the interview cost me over £50 in petrol money, books to read beforehand, having passport photos taken and the abundance of chocolate I had to guzzle afterwards in commiseration. My third choice is now full, so when Warwick reject me, so will Birmingham.
In order to shine at interview, I convinced my Mum to let me spend the week at the school where she works, shadowing members of the English department. Today was my first day, and all in all, I had a fantastic, beneficial experience. I observed a year 11 bottom set, an upper sixth set and a year eight top set. They were all intriguing to watch, and did make me more excited about teaching. I found myself realising how much I have missed learning – I had to struggle with the impulse to chip in during year 8’s lesson on Twelfth Night, or volunteer ideas during the sixth formers’ lesson on The Picture of Dorian Gray, despite not having read the book for a decade!
Discussing Shakespeare with year eight was a marvellous experience. I think I took a guilty pleasure in knowing far more about the play and it’s context than they did. At University, the straight-English students were all arty and melodramatic and as a joint-honours student registered in another department I was lower class and mostly ignored; overly pretentious talk of tableaux and understudies flew over my head and baffled me into a shy silence. My rare contributions talked not of entrances but of etymology, not of sets or scenes but soliloquies, and were more often than not met with disinterest. The year 8’s wanted to know about the history and context of Shakespeare, their questions such as ‘did people speak like this?’ or ‘why is there an apostrophe instead of the missing letter?’ were queries which deserved whole lessons to answer, and I was desperate to offer my knowledge. I think this means I am definitely suited to being a teacher, although I will aim to phrase this better at next week’s interview.
One concern I have in particular about next week’s interview, is that candidates for the English and Drama course (me) will be asked to complete a drama simulation exercise, whilst the other candidates will have prepared a short, 5 minute presentation. After a thorough browse on www.thestudentroom.com, I found a post of a November interviewee, who described the exercise as ‘performing tableaux.’ Since my post-operative restrictions prevent me from bending, lifting or twisting, I am concerned that I would not be able to contort my body into any role other than that of a tree. And I struggle to think how many situations may call upon a human tree. I’m mulling over phoning them to request the opportunity to give a presentation instead, perhaps on a dramatic topic, although I do not want to appear in any way weak…
I have an interview! Warwick, the University which gave me the happiest years of my life, a wonderful boyfriend, friends for life and a crippling student debt, have invited me to an interview for a place on their PGCE course for Secondary English with Drama. I have a week to prepare! They have stipulated that I must spend at least a day in a state school before the interview, but with the short notice and my spine, the best I have come up with is four days in the private school where my Mum works. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that 4 days x private school = 1 day x state school!
I’m feeling fairly confident about the rest of the interview, as I did run the academic side of the English as a Foreign Language school in which I teach every summer, and I am chatty and approachable in interviews (from what I can tell from the two I have managed to get since graduating!) My only concern is my lack of dramatic ability. I have never been, nor will ever be, an actor, and although I can prance around making a fool of myself with ease in school pantomimes and karaoke parties, I do not feel I can do the poetry of a Shakespeare play justice in front of thirty pubescents!
It is 4.30 in the morning and I’m still awake. I haven’t been out all night, I’ve been in bed since 9. I haven’t been panicking, or soul searching. I’ve become addicted to the new TV series on E4: Glee! I don’t normally watch much television anymore – my parents are technologically challenged, so we don’t have all the channels, and we share our internet connection with what seems like the rest of Tunbridge Wells, which rules out YouTube, i-player, or any other internet streaming. This has even been the cause of one application failure: I was required to write an essay on a broadcast for a BBC application, but my stone age internet connection couldn’t load it! However, when the computers switch off and the town goes to bed, the boundaries of a slow connection are broken, and the internet becomes a limitless odyssey that I have all to myself! And I have so far caught up on Wallander and Glee.
Glee is fantastic! Sadly it is fiction, and fiction in the most imaginative, surreal sense, but it’s underdog storyline and unblinking optimism is infectious, and the more I watch, the more I want to be a teacher. It is unusually adult for a high-school-set musical programme, and there is as much focus on the teacher dynamic as there is on the pupils. The main teacher is motivated through the students, and gets so much out of their enthusiasm, and it struck me that teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs there are! I have been writing that on countless applications and personal statements, but I believed it more watching Glee, than I ever have before! I really hope Warwick let me back in to do that PGCE now!!
I applied for a fantastic job today. The position is copywriter at a large EFL company based in Zurich. My good friend and university coursemate Christine works there, and she very kindly recommended me to the lady in charge of recruitment. I feel very positive about this one - the job was made for me! It perfectly combines my knowledge of languages with my EFL experience and my love of writing. I can only hope the recruiter feels that way! Not even the location can put me off. I spoke to N who did not hesitate in encouraging me, immediately imagining himself relocating to Switzerland after his PhD. He even started talking about the skiing possibilities! I feel lucky to have such a supportive and loving man, and hopefully this luck will transfer itself onto my application!!
When I first started blogging, I was considering becoming a teacher as a last resort option. I felt it was a career that I could do, having done well at EFL teaching, but that it wasn’t enough. I wanted to be a writer, to achieve a small level of gratification in the knowledge that strangers would know my work, my name. Since then, I have been forced into the real world, a hostile environment where dreams are no longer the currency that they were all through childhood and adolescence. Although my usual enthusiasm, naivety and playfulness mean I may never be a proper ‘grown-up’ (my mother still isn’t one), I didn’t have a choice about entering adulthood. I still believe in magic and love thanks to my devoted Disney upbringing, but my faith that I could do anything is beginning to waver. It could be down to the pain in my spine, the cold weather, or the fact that I’m mourning the recent death of a beloved pet, but lately the heavy snowfall that has frozen England also seems to have frozen my ambition.
Not even my back up plan is yielding results. My first choice for PGCE courses has rejected me without interview, and I have as yet heard nothing from the second choice, which also happens to be the University from which I graduated. In the hope of moving back to the Midlands with N, I applied for a number of pen-pushing type jobs in the West Midlands, and despite the impeccability of my applications, I have not heard anything. One position which is particularly enticing is as a paid editorial assistant at two magazines: French Homes and Heritage Magazine. It would be like my industrial magazine work experience job, except it would be paid, and I would be writing about a subject I not only understand, but enjoy. I am certainly qualified for the position: I speak French, I have relevant work experience, I love learning about history and I can write. I do lack a journalism degree, but have an English degree from a very good University. I put hours into the application, and can’t help but have raised hopes for this one!
Merry Christmas Jobseekers!
I’m finally back home. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, the car got stuck in the snow at the bottom of my road and I had to sit painfully within (normal) walking distance of my house in the freezing cold whilst my Dad and brother pushed the car about to free the wheels.
Predictably, I was welcomed home by a handful of rejection emails, one from my first choice PGCE University which was rather disconcerting given the amount of time spent on the application, and the fact that last year, the course at that particular university had so many places left they were handing them out to almost any Tom Dick or Harry. My application has now been forwarded to my second choice University, which is also the University from which I graduated, so I will be most distressed if they reject me!
Health-wise, I’m sleeping a lot. When I’m awake I practise walking but at the moment it’s still exhausting and after about 20 minutes I have to lie down again. Surprisingly, sitting still is near impossible. I can manage about two minutes in a chair before I stand up again! Being away from the hospital means I am no longer being force fed by the nurses which is nice. My mother tries to entice me with my pre-operation favourites such as chocolate, pasta, tiramisu or even the sacred Diet Coke, but my cravings are restricted to mineral water (the water that comes out of our taps has taken on a mysterious disgusting taste) and occasionally Marks and Spencer’s Sushi. I have a new tendency to announce my waking up in the morning by shouting “DRUGS!” at the top of my voice.
“Every ceiling, when reached, becomes a floor, upon which one walks as a matter of course and prescriptive right.”
I walked today! The distance was only about 30 metres and i had to hold on to two nurses but i managed to walk nonetheless! I feel an overwhelming sense of achievement. If I can walk again with a freshly filleted spine, i can do anything, maybe even land a job!
The operation went well! I am now straight, even-hipped and considerably taller! I haven’t been able to measure my height yet, as i can’t stand up straight, but i estimate at least a couple of inches! The pain is often excruciating, but sometimes bearable, but i am sure they are weaning me off painkillers too early. I lost the morphine two days ago now and have felt awful since then. I feel awfully sick and have no appetite at all, but the nurses relish placing pungent dishes in front of me! Jelly is now my staple diet item. Yum! As i can text blog updates from my hospital bed i will keep you posted whenever i feel up to it!
Hi! Right now I’m actually in hospital feeling terrible (perhaps, hoprefully not) but I’m writing this before I go in so right now I’m feeling fine, a little nervous perhaps, but fine! I want to thank everyone who has sent me answers to my little questionnaire, and encourage you all to keep them coming! Whether you have good news or bad news, I want it all! I hope to have collected a complete variety of post-graduation stories by the time I’m well enough to compile them into an article.
I’m really basking in the positive response I’ve had to this blog from so many people from all over the world, and really appreciate all of your emails and comments! Thank you!!