Sunday, 16 January 2011

3.25pm, Saturday 15th January. Location: somewhere over Europe, I think...

So this is entry number 2, coming to you from about 35,000 feet in the air or however high planes are supposed to fly these days. Despite being only 3.30 in the afternoon I’ve had a pretty hectic day. Probably best to start at the beginning!

Woke up at 6am and got showered etc. The Travelodge we stayed at was only a 5 minute drive to the airport so it was rather handy. Got parked no problem and we (myself, mum, dad and Sarah) headed into the airport. I checked in my suitcase and despite being almost 22KG in weight (2KG over the allowance) the assistant kindly turned a blind eye to it, probably saving me £20 or so in the process.
We went to a cafe and got a bit of breakfast although being excited as I was I couldn’t really eat much. I said my goodbye to the family for the last time and made my way to security. Poor mum was upset but I guess that is to be expected.

Security wasn’t an issue and got through in about 10 minutes, and I headed to the departure gate til it was time to board the plane. It was a pretty small plane, only 3 seats in each row (2 seats and the single seat of course separated by the aisle). Luckily I got the single seat meaning I could stare out the window for the entire journey. Having just looked at the BMI magazine it was either an Embraer ERJ-135 or (more than likely) the Embraer ERJ-145). The cabin assistant was your stereotypical gay cabin assistant lol. The pilot had to abort the original landing at Heathrow (he did so at the very last second) and so we had to circle and come back for another go. I think this was because of some bad weather but he certainly did leave it very late to decide to pull up.

Eventually landed and once inside the terminal I went to the connecting flights area. It was basically like the inside of a shopping mall (think Union Square) which was full of Duty Free Shops. 400 Marlbrough Lights for only £50, bargain! Not that I smoke or anything but when people pay over £60 in Sainsburys for just 200 it makes you think how much money you can save...

I got a hot chocolate and cheese and ham croissant (at the age of 22 I still don’t like tea or coffee) and had a rest before going to the departure gate for my second flight of the day. It was only a 5 minute walk from the duty free shops so I got there in plenty time before the flight. Once on board the plane I stacked my hand luggage in the overhead compartments and took my seat. This plane was the Airbus A320 and has a capacity of up to 156 people. Inside there are 6 seats per row separated by the aisle in the middle.

Take-off was delayed due to congestion on the runway but we got up in the sky just after 1.30pm. We got light refreshments which was pleasant followed by a meal, consisting of a chicken dinner with a cous-cous salad, bread and butter, crackers and cheese and a toffee cheesecake, all in tiddly airplane-sized containers. Not bad to be honest, much better than I was expecting. Tea and coffee was offered after the meal but, of course, I had to decline. One of these days!

This pretty much brings us to where I am now. It’s almost pitch black outside (since we’re flying across timezones) but the inside of the plane is nicely illuminated by the cabin lights. There are 5 films being shown on the monitors built into the headrest of the person in front, but I actually missed the beginning of the films so am now drifting in and out of The Social Network, without bothering to use earphones.

We’ve been travelling for 2 hours 30 minutes, so possibly a couple hours to Baku and however long it is to Tbilisi after that. Bit annoying we pretty much fly past Georgia geographically, but at the end of the day my flights are being paid by the Georgian government so I shouldn’t bother complaining.

Think I’m going to watch some Family Guy/Peep Show on my laptop, so my next update will probably be sometime after landing in Tbilisi. Looks like orientation will be a hella busy week so might not even be til after that!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Mission statement

Hi there :)

As this is my first blog entry I'll keep things brief!

My name is Dave Wallace, and I am heading out to Georgia (the country, not the state...) to teach English. I'm taking part in a government-run programme called 'Teach and Learn with Georgia'. Over the coming years (as far as I'm aware this project began last year, but if I'm incorrect please correct me) an estimated 1000 native English speakers will head across to Georgia to teach the English language in schools. One of the main purposes of this programme is to help schoolchildren learn the English language. Check out the TLG website for more info.

I should put in a quick word about the recruiting agency I went through to get to where I am now. Footprints Recruiting, a Canadian-based company, is one of the leading companies in the world for placing ESL teachers abroad. I have to say they were brilliant through the whole application process, always providing support and assistance where necessary. I would recommend them to anyone who wishes to teach English abroad, as their service is top-notch. The website is full of relevant information so even if you're just considering it, have a look round their site anyway.

I'll try and keep this blog updated as often as possible. With things that I regard as 'novel' (for example, writing a blog for the first time!) the chances are I'll post plenty of entries for the first few weeks and never update it again after that. However, I will do my utmost to keep this blog updated whilst in Georgia. To be honest, I don't think I'll be writing entries the length of a novel, so perhaps quick notes on my thoughts, experiences and observations whilst living in Georgia will be just as interesting. Less is more and all that...

A bit about myself if you don't know me personally:

I'm from Scotland, 22 years old, and I graduated from University last year. Now's not the best of times to be graduating in the country considering the lack of jobs out there, so I thought I'd go on my travels and see what I can learn along the way. Teaching in Georgia is a fantastic opportunity and a challenge I'm relishing. I leave in two days, but I guess that's a story for my next blog...