Month: September 2016

Kazakhstan

When asked where I was going for the Eid break and I responded with Kazakhstan the reaction usually was, oh, do you know someone there? It definitely wasn’t a popular beach or resort destination but it was a chance to visit a new country and see Autum. Autum recently started at a new school in the small town of Atyrau, Kazakhstan and I was going to check it out. It was quite the trip as it took three flights to get there accompanied with long layovers. Now that I’ve made that trip once, next time I will do a much better job at booking my flights.

My first long lay over was in Dubai which I was not mad about as it’s a great airport. Once I arrived it was early morning and I had to switch terminals but thankfully it was a short shuttle bus ride. The hotel in the airport is really nice. You don’t have to walk to get to because it is literally in the middle up on the third floor. Most airport hotels you have to walk a ways to get to or are not as easy as you would think to get to. For this, I was thankful.

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High class 🙂

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The halls of the hotel were enclosed with these clear walls. They kept all of the noise out.

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Lots of pillows, comfortable bed and a massage chair.

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The view right outside my room.

I had a sixteen hour layover. Now I know what you are saying, “why didn’t you get a later flight” or “why didn’t you get out and explore the city?” It was much cheaper to have longer layovers and I knew that Dubai would be a great airport to have a layover at. As for getting out in the city I’m saving that for another trip when I can come back and play tourist. I just wanted to chill at the airport, which I did and it was amazing. After arriving to the correct gate area I found an awesome spot in a coffee shop, ordered an iced latte, and started my blog. I left Dubai at 7 p.m. and arrived in Astana at 1:30 a.m. Now for future reference long layovers are not a good idea at Astana airport, there is nothing to do, nothing. I had a seven hour layover so I basically slept on an airport bench on and off for a few hours then headed to Atyrau. I left Astana at 8:30 a.m. and was passed out the entire flight since you know I had to sleep on a bench. I finally arrived to Atyrau at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. Yes it was a long trip. The actual flight time was not even nine hours but it took me thirty-two hours to get there. Ahhh traveling.

Atyrau is a small town in Kazakhstan. Chevron oil is large company there so there are many expats employed there that are affiliated with Chevron. There is not much English in Kazakhstan so that makes for a lot of adventures. Luckily Autum has a taxi service that she uses and can request taxi’s via phone or e-mail so they always know where we want to go. Autum picked me up then we headed to her apartment. She lives on the 17th floor and has a pretty sweet view of the city. She faces the side to see the sunsets and they are totally worth the watch.

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Autum’s apartment building.

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Walk on the river.

Autum had school the week while I was there which was perfect in that I could get my to-do list done, relax and then do activities once she was done with school. I had a pretty extensive to-do list to complete over vacation with such things as go through my bookmarks on my computer. Seriously though who has time to do that? I also helped Autum unpack her shipment from Egypt because I think that is fun and she does not. On Monday I went to school with Autum in the morning and then before lunch we went apple picking with her class. We did a few activities during the week after school but it was mainly a pretty chill break which was just what I wanted.

Fun fact: Atyrau is located in both Europe and Asia. The river below separates the two continents and there are markers on both sides of the river.

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Europe marker for the Europe side.

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Ural River that separates the two continents.

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Asia marker for the Asia side.

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Doing tourist things.

We also visited the Russian Orthodox Church which was beautiful inside and walked past the Manjali Mosque.

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Happy Eid!

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We also went to a local gallery, met the artist and looked through a ton of his paintings. I found one that I liked but didn’t love it enough to buy it, maybe next time.

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Grocery shopping – this was interesting and a little frustrating too due to nothing being in English. Oh and also this the vodka aisle, just vodka. There were about four more aisles for wine and beer. It’s pretty much the opposite of Bahrain and stuff was pretty cheap.

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I got a lot of hang out time with Hanuel. Yes, I did miss him but you know what I didn’t miss – his hair being everywhere 😉 Look at that face!

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There is a restaurant called Chicago so of course I had to go. There was nothing remotely even close to Chicago food on the menu, it took forever and wasn’t that great but it was fun to be a Chicago themed restaurant in Kazakhstan.

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Autum works with a lot of really great people. Many of her co-workers have been teaching for a while and/or have been in the international teaching world for a while. It was nice to talk with other teachers and get their take on the schools in the world. I know I’ve said this before but it really is true – the more teachers you meet while internationally teaching the more you realize what a small world it is. There are some new teachers at my school that a few of the teachers in Kazakhstan worked with before – small world. Friday before I left I went out with a few of the spouses. We went to the Lenin statue not to be confused with John Lennon. Vladimir Lenin was in power in Russia/Soviet Union from 1917 – 1924. He used to have many statues in high traffic areas around the city but now this statue is tucked away off of some back streets, for obvious reasons. Our last stop was the Beer House, Bavarius. We had a few beers, chatted for a bit and then I was headed to the airport to start my journey home.

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Lenin statue – pretty big.

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Bavarius Brewery

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My journey home was not as long as on the way there but still long, about twenty four hours. On the way home I flew to Almaty, Kazakhstan which I was hoping to be better than Astana being that the website said they had a hotel that was only a three minute walk. Once I arrived I had an eight hour layover right in the middle of the night so getting some sleep was a necessity. The hotel was close, not connected to the airport but it was across the parking lot. My plan was to get a semi lux room for $30. They were out and the only one’s available where the very basic room that only had a sink in the room. The bathroom and shower were in the hallway. This room was only $15. Now for $15 you get exactly what you pay for. I didn’t even take pictures but it was a place for me to get some sleep so it served it’s purpose. My next flight was to Dubai then to Bahrain. There was a Subway near my gate in Dubai so I was happy and it only took me thirty minutes to get home from the airport, win-win.

Later skaters

-B

 

 

 

Back to Bahrain and back to school

The end of the summer means it’s time to get back to work a.k.a. school. I’m still glad to have the excited feeling of a new school year. As I teacher I hope that feeling never goes away because then it might be time to find a new profession. This year I was coming in with a good attitude and a bunch of new ideas that I was going to try with my classes.

I came back early to Bahrain to help some friends out by flying their dogs to them. That entire experience was super stressful. I give props to those people who travel with kids, pets and even those who travel with both. This experience proved to me that I do not want to own either, kids or pets, it’s all too much. In the end though I got through it and delivered two alive dogs to their owners who are all now happily living a new life in a new country.

Once returning to Bahrain I had one day to get everything in order. The following day we started our teacher institute week. It was fun to meet the new staff especially my two new P.E. guys. The first week was basically meetings on top of meetings but there was a small amount of time to work in our classrooms. That Saturday I headed to school to finish up my to-do list. To say I feel on top of it this year would be an understatement. It’s been a great start to the year. The new addition of another P.E. teacher has been amazing and the new P.E. guys are great to work with. Due to the addition of another P.E. teacher we now have more flexibility with our classes. We decided to split up the classes between the three of us and we are all teaching our own classes. This year I am teaching Pre-K, KG, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th grade boys and girls, and high school girls 9-12. We run on a six day cycle so three of the days are elementary days and the other three are middle/high school days. They alternate every other day.

I was excited to implement two new ideas into my P.E. classes and they both are starting out great.

Muscle & Bone of the Month – each month my elementary classes will learn about a new muscle and bone. We will learn how to pronounce it, where it is located, practice writing it, the purpose of it and what exercises/activities use that particular muscle and bone. I’ve never copied and laminated so much in my entire teaching career. I definitely made up for it this year!

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My fourth graders working on spelling and writing Bicep and Cranium, our muscle and bone of the month. They did a great job.

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Behavior Chart – most elementary classes use behavior charts and this is a combination of other teachers ideas and what I have “borrowed” from them. At the start of each elementary class they start on green. If there behavior is less than desirable such as not listening, not following directions, not working as a team, etc. they move to yellow and then possibly red. If they adjust their behavior they can move back to yellow/green. If the class ends on green they can move their corresponding jersey on the game board. Once a class’s jersey makes it to the finish they earn a free period of P.E. to choose whatever activity they would like. They also start over again once they reach the finish and try to earn another free choice day. The kids are doing well with it and like to move their jersey at the end of class.

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My office:

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My webpage for Elementary P.E.

https://sites.google.com/a/rvis.edu.bh/elementary-p-e/

My Monthly P.E. Newsletter – I started this in Egypt and it was a great way to let the parents know what we are doing in class so I decided to start it again this year. Here is the link if you wanted to take a look:

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Year 2 at RVIS, Year 4 of International Teaching, Year 12 of teaching

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Later skaters

-B