Summary – I thought that to save a lot of the questions I get asked I would use this blog how I intended to use it. Thus, this is for family and friends to catch up with everything I have been up to since being here in the last month. As always I put in a few subheading. And let me introduce to you my summary of the last 4 weeks…
A Normal Week –
Monday to Friday I teach in the afternoon and evening. This is strange because I am used to what most people are; of getting up early in the morning, working, but having the evening to myself. However, here I have the morning I have to myself (most of which I plan). It also means that I don’t really get an evening, as I get home sometime between 10 and 11;30pm [Sorry my colon isn’t working].
Even within this I have varying days, as I teach at 2 different schools; I basically alternate between them. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I work at a school in a place called Miraflores. The school opens at 3 and I teach from 4;30 until 9. On Mondays and Wednesdays I am in a place called Portela, the school opens at 2pm and I teach from 4;10 until 9;30. While on Fridays I am in Portella again and I teach only from 4;10 to 6, so I don’t bother getting to the school until 3 or so.
During the weekends, I occasionally travel around, but I often it is in the local area and of course I have chores to do. I meet up with friends and on nice days I like to sit on the balcony in the sun.
My Normal Working Day –
I usually get up about 10am(ish), I have a big breakfast (as I don’t often eat until very late after that). I plan my lessons for the day. I usually leave my flat about 1pm for the school. I have to get either a bus for Miraflores or the metro to Portella. These are both from Marques de Pombal.
When I get to school I often do so some food shopping on the way, and often I stop at a little cafe for coffee and cake or sit in a park nearby until the school opens. I then set up for my lessons. This includes organising registers, starting whiteboards, find the worksheets, etc.
When I finish teaching I walk home and basically head to bed. As I have only been able to snack between lessons, have a big breakfast and thus a small lunch, by 10/11pm I am starving so eat a lot when I get back. Also, as I am very tired I just put a DVD on and go to bed.
[The pretty little park next to my school in Portela]
[The same park, the route I take to get to the school]
[The park by the school in Miraflores which I often sit in when I get there too early]
The schools are different to the schools I am used to. First of all they are tiny. There basically are 3 to 4 classrooms, which have a big table with 12 chairs around and a whiteboard (with TV above) that is all. There is a small staff room and a reception desk and that is all.
[The red shows where the schools are (the blue is where I live)]
[The school in Portela is believe it or not on the 5th floor of that tower block, to the very left]
[My school in Miraflores]
[Sorting my registers and worksheets before my lessons in Miraflores]
There are 9 English teachers at the school… well actually 8. 1 decided that teaching wasn’t for him and dropped out within 2 weeks. Although there are this number of teachers I only actually see 2 out of 8 of them each week. I see Kerion and Pete in Portela Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. At Miraflores I should see Andy, but as he has left I see Nick the director who is now covering his lessons. This is because only 2 to 4 teachers are at each school each day.
[Me and fellow teacher Kara on the No 28 tram a few days after arriving in the country]
Classes & Students
My classes are all very small compared to what I am used to. I have class sizes from 2 to 12, the ages are varying from 10 years old up to adult. In fact my oldest adult is 76 years old (as she likes to keep reminding me). At first it was strange teaching classes of only 2 students but now it is nice and you really get to know your students. My largest class is my FCE-A class which is not my favourite. The students themselves are OK but their work is so boring and confusing.
[After teaching this lesson a million times, I was very impressed by my board work lol]
The weather here is just starting to change. We had rain all last week, and in the last 2 weeks the temperature has dropped from 25-32 degrees to 17-25 degrees. However even when it rains it is quite refreshing because the temperature is higher than it is in the UK.
The idea of ‘cold’ is very different to our idea of ‘cold’. My students find it very strange when I wear a dress or skirt when it is 20-25 degrees, as to them that is cold! I also found that it a very British thing to talk about the weather. I find myself always using the weather as my example for any grammar. In fact there even mentioned it and now I am making a conscious effort to use anything but the weather!
[The weather forecast on my phone a few weeks ago]
[A view across the city with the normal weather for here]
[The view from my balcony one day]
I still love my flat. I live off Avenida de Libertade, and which is close to an area called Anjos. When I was looking I narrowed it down to 2. In the end I chose this one which is the more expensive one. I have a nice big double bedroom. There is a nice big living/dining room and kitchen. As well as being joined at the main corridor, the kitchen and living room are joined by a balcony. It is quite a big balcony, which looks over part of the city near Avenida de Libertade.
I live with a Portuguese guy called Luis and an Italian girl called Ilaria. He works in Production at most of the festivals in the city and she is a student studying here until the end of January. They are both very nice and the flat has a nice atmosphere to it. All my bills are included in my rent, which I am glad of. Also, there is a dishwasher and tumble dryer which have both proved to be very useful.
[The view from my balcony. Where the traffic lights are is where Avenida de Libertade is]
[The steps by my flat – explaining why Lisbon is known as the city of 7 hills]
My main friends here are within the teachers. Often when we meet up they bring flat mates and other friends which is nice too. I have become good friends with a fellow teacher, Lauren. She doesn’t work at the same school, in fact we met through the teacher who left. They did their CELTA together and we realised how much we had in common and often meet up. We are incredibly similar and when we go out somewhere we have the same taste which makes it easy.
[Me and Lauren in the Pastelaria next door to my flat]
Despite being here for a month I haven’t travelled too far afield. However, at the same time, I have been seeing a lot within the city and near me. These places are more a) the local’s places and b) the backstreets. I have been shopping a few times at Colombo (a massive shopping centre in Lisbon) and went to Oriente a few weeks back with my friend Sandra.
[Walking up Avenida de Libertade. I walk I often do and love doing]
[In the shopping centre, Colombo]
[Praca do Rossio at night]
[Walking back from Bairro Alto at night]
[Praca do Comercio]
I would say my Portuguese is very slowly improving. I have been meaning to get Portuguese lessons but have put it off until now and I am finding it fairly difficult as many are evening classes which is when I am teaching. Although, I am understanding more and finding it easier to get around than before. It did help that the school provided 5 Portuguese lessons during our induction week, which have come in use.
[Part of the message at the metro about the strike, and although in Portuguese I understood it]
Although it took a long process and a lot of queuing I now have a travel card. This means I get all trams, trains, metros and buses within Lisbon L0 & L1 for free. Transport in the city is much like London is great and so reliable… apart from the occasional metro strikes which we have had in the last few weeks.
[Waiting for the bus at the bus stop at Marques de Pombal on a rather wet day]
This city is so cheap to what I am used to. I set a budget of €60 as that means after travel, rent, etc I still have plenty of money left over from the month. So far, even though I go out to cafes several times a week, eat out occasionally at weekends, go out with the teachers on Saturday nights and do lots of food shopping I never hit that budget. Things here are a lot cheaper to the UK! For example, in the cafes (away from the touristy areas) you can easily get a coffee and massive cafe for less than €1.20 (approx £1). Similarly bars even in the touristy area drinks never cost more than €3 each, in fact most are more like €2 each.
[My coffee and traditional Pastela Nata which I got in a cafe near my school for €1.20; i.e. less than £1. This was the smallest cake you could get too. The next time I went we bought massive pastries for the same price]