5 Things I’ve Learned from My First Solo Adventure

Hey everybody,

I’m back from my first solo adventure!!! ^___^ *pat myself on the back, hip hip hooray. I’m a SURVIVOR*

I’ve been away for 1 month and have finally completed the CELTA course. The first 2 days back at work, my colleagues have been very sweet and I’ve heard lots of ‘you’re back’ from all of them. They probably missed me so much eh? Wishful thinking…;p. Normally, after a long break, you’ll be swamped by lots of work and emails, but *luckily* it’s not the case here. I’m still getting over my jet lag and had to sleep for 9-10 hours yesterday night. Feeling refreshed now, I’m gonna complete this post.

As mentioned in my previous post here, I’m finally on track to fulfill my personal ambition to take this course, Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (Speakers of Other Languages).  It feels like I just left for Auckland yesterday and now I’m back in Singapore again. November has been an intense month filled with assignments and new things to learn every single day. Overall, it’s been a great and fruitful journey that I’ll remember for a very long time.

So here we go. The 5 things I’ve learned about myself, teaching English as a career and Auckland:

1. Everything about the course has been an eye-opener.

This course is filled with fun and useful lessons. I learned how to do lesson planning, how to increase my English language awareness (grammar and stuff) and how to teach real-life students through the 6-hour Teaching Practice (TP) session. In four weeks, I taught 2 different level of English learners, Pre-Intermediate & Upper Intermediate students. The students are from many different nationalities: Japan, Korea, Hongkong, Chile, Venezuela, Russia, Brazil, Slovakia and etc. They were enthusiastic and lovely students. Apart from all those, we also had 5 assignments: Assignment 1 – focus on learners, Assignment 2a and 2b – analysis of grammar and vocab, phonology, Assignment 3 – lesson planning and teaching my authentic material (chose Sara Bareilles’ song: Brave. Love this song!!), Assignment 4 –  reflections on my teaching style and area of improvement.

Because this course was so intensive with loads of things to do, I couldn’t bring myself to travel around every weekend or after class. Everyday was like this (including weekends): wake up and shower-go to school-necessary lessons-break time(=do whatever I need to do at school to prepare for my lessons and research for assignment)-quick lunch (which involves, sandwiches and instant noodle)-teaching practice-feedback session-climb back to my hostel (steep street)dinner at Japanese restaurant next door-back in my room to do lesson plan or assignment-next day repeat..Haha:)

Well, it was all worth it though. From the start, I knew what I’d signed up for so I was prepared to give my best effort. Main focus was just to study. And I’m very proud of myself for keeping this promise to myself. Yaaaaay…..:)

Breaking news: right at the end of the course, I learned that I got a PASS B. FYI, 4% will get Pass A, 20% will get a PASS B, the rest will be just a PASS. And there were only 10 of us in this course. Not bad eh? Well done Sien!! ^_^

CELTA cert (front)

2. The new friends I made while I was there.

By default, I’m an introvert who needs time to warm up with new people and environment. So my first week in Auckland, apparently, I gave out this first impression to everyone that I’m a shy, timid and soft-spoken girl. It was a hectic first week in which I tried to reduce the amount of workload to manageable chunks of things to do. Burnt my first weekend and it was the right thing to do. By the end of second week, I felt so much more comfortable with this new city and living environment that my classmates thought I’d changed to a whole new person. They started comparing the ‘new Linsien’ with the ‘old Linsien’. I was very amused by this. Hahaha…guys, the new me is the real me. Sometimes serious, sometimes fun-loving, I can throw some witty jokes at times, I love to organize gathering with my close friends and spend quality time with my beloved and I also live by my own rules of conduct and strive to respect everyone. Free spirited soul, I am.

Thank you so much for your kind words and for being my wonderful classmates, guys. I’ll surely miss all of you and all the very best for our future:)

from CELTA classmates 20131129_121134

3. Auckland city and beyond.

The first thing that I noticed from this new city was how the streets are very hilly. I needed to climb quite a steep slope just to get to my hostel and by the end of the course, I could maintain my weight.  All thanks to the walking path that I took everyday. This morning, my colleague even said that I was getting a little bit slimmer, though I’m not sure to which portion of my body she’s referring to:p. Anyway, I also like the weather in Auckland. November was supposed to be a transition period from spring to summer season. But then, it felt like spring to me. It was rainy and windy. I’d need to wear my jacket and brace myself for the strong morning breeze every time I stepped out of the hostel. The sunrise was at 6am and only set when it’s around 8pm, currently they are 5 hours ahead of Singapore.

Below are the pictures of my room, the Japanese restaurant just next door, bookstore with Christmas decoration at Queen street and the Auckland city Sky Tower.

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Whitcoulls xmas deco Skytower Auckland

4. A day off at Waiheke island and Auckland suburbs.

Finally, after last Wednesday, there was no more teaching practice or assignment for me. I’ve started to relax and found some time to watch the Hunger Games – Catching Fire with my classmates on Wednesday night, met a friend on Thursday night, went for a drink at Viaduct Harbour and chilled out at Mission Bay on Friday afternoon. On Saturday, I finally went for my long-awaited short trip to Waiheke island for my little zipline adventure in the morning. In the afternoon, I had lunch and dinner trips in Papakura and Manukau with my dear classmate, her daughter and cousin.  It was a very well-deserved day off before I caught my flight on Sunday morning.

Here are the pictures I took while I’m on the ferry to Waiheke island, on my zipline adventure (vineyard view as my background) and at Stampede while drooling on my delicious Angus steak on stone grill lunch ^_^


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Angus steak

5. The big question: what’s next?

Almost everyone who knows that I’m taking this course asked me this question: “What’s next?”. Well, let me share with you what’s next.

Based on this 1-month experience and stories from my fellow classmates and helpful tutors, I came to the hard-truth conclusion that I should forgo the option to become an English teacher with the public school (attached to MOE) and perhaps look for part-time teaching opportunity in the private school or language center. So I’ll probably add on classroom teaching to my current once-a-week private tuition gig. That’s the plan for now and hopefully I’ll enjoy the ride as much as I’ve enjoyed my one-month CELTA course in Auckland.

So now, as I’m ticking one more box off my bucket list, I’m screaming at the top of my lungs:


Folks, moral of the story:

“If there’s anything that you’ve always wanted to do since a very long time ago, just ignore the yadda yadda talks in your head and take the first step. After that, with the right amount of effort, just do it and believe that everything will fall into the right place.”

That’s all from me for now. Til’ the next post then.



4 thoughts on “5 Things I’ve Learned from My First Solo Adventure

  1. Ahhh thank goodness you’ve moved to wordpress. :p
    Anyway I’m so glad you write about your NZ adventure. I think it’s very very cool for you to go there solo, learn the things you’ve always wanted to learn and rediscover yourself. =)
    I know you from Bandi and he said you’re a super genius-like smart girl and you can make fortune being an engineer (or scientist) but I’m so happy to know that you’re pursuing a career as a teacher. Not only you’re brave and wonderful, you’re kind. =)
    I hope your teaching planning will go smoothly and keep writing! I love reading your stories. =)

    • Maayy, thanks a bunch for your well wishes. Yeah, I hope I can make the transition and execute the plan well. Or if I can sustain it, slash career is also another option:) Engineer/english teacher? We’ll see:)

      PS: I love all the stories and photos you share on your Europe adventure. Glad that it went smoothly for you and Bandi! Will remember the trip forever eh? Haha:) happy planning for ur next ‘big’ adventure with the love of your life, ok?

      Je t’embrasse,


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