Four CELTAs (OR Excuses for not blogging)

The last five months have been pretty busy. Here’s what I’ve been doing.

(You can click on any of the collages to see larger images.)

28th July-19th August

Train to be a CELTA tutor
The place: Sevastopol, Crimea
The trainees: 9 Russian native speakers; 8 women, 1 man; early 20s-mid 30s
The tutors: two Russians
The assessor: from Moscow
How I got the job: training as a CELTA tutor was one of the reasons I moved to Sevastopol
The accommodation: the flat I’d lived in all year
The evenings: writing a couple of input sessions; meals and evenings at the beach with my co-tutors; relaxing; packing
The weekends: exploring Crimea; packing up my life into boxes ready to move out of my flat and leave Sevastopol for an indeterminate length of time until I get another visa
The lows: basically sitting non-stop for four weeks watching other people do things, at the hottest time of the year in Sevastopol; not knowing when I would be back in Sevastopol
The highs: redoing my CELTA and remembering so much I’d forgotten


20th August

Return to the UK, via Moscow, where there was a slight blip with my passport because I had a Ukrainian entry stamp, not a Russian one. The supervisor managed to sort it out in ten minutes though.

21st August-13th September

Holiday and catching up with family and friends
Including a week at a caravan with family, and trips to Wolverhampton to sort out some of my stuff, Newcastle, Hadrian’s Wall, Beamish, Sheffield, and a London 2012 reunion on Piccadilly

UK collage

14th September

Mum driving me to Leeds, via a trip to Hardwick Hall with my grandma

Hardwick Hall

15th September-10th October

My first course as a CELTA tutor
The place: Leeds, UK
The trainees: 10 native speakers, 1 Iranian; 8 women, 3 men; early 20s-mid 50s
The other tutor: a Brit who’s been in Turkey for a while
The assessor: a Brit
How I got the job: on 10th September I got my first ever email from the CELTA mailing list, and Leeds were looking for a tutor. After discussing it with Sevastopol and knowing I probably wouldn’t get a visa any time soon, I applied straight away and it all worked out 🙂
The accommodation: a very nice attic room with a homestay couple
The evenings: chatting to my hosts, putting together input sessions, cooking, going to see Paco Peña
The weekends: catching up with friends, exploring Leeds, visiting Ulverston and the Lake District
The lows: gettting home every evening and knowing I still had to work; walking away from feedback on some days knowing I might have been too demanding
The highs: staying in a great home-stay; the support of my fellow tutors (on both my course and the one running in parallel); realising I could tutor!

Leeds collage

12th October

Car back to my aunt’s, thanks to my mum

13th-14th October

Recovery/preparation time, including trying to get my hair cut, and to get enough prescription medicine for a trip of indeterminate length from a doctor in a random part of the country

15th October

Train to Manchester, an evening at my friend’s house cooking for my journey

16th October

Fly to San Diego, via Amsterdam and Detroit, arriving at 9:45pm SD time

17th October

Settle in, getting very lost finding the school because I decided to walk, but seeing 3 eagles because of my detour

18th-19th October

Trips to San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld with my co-tutor

Young panda at San Diego zoo
Young panda at San Diego zoo

Whales at SeaWorld

20th October-14th November

CELTA tutor: course 2
The place: San Diego, California
The trainees: 9 native speakers; 7 women, 2 men (1 man quit after the first day; 1 woman after the first week); early 20s-mid 50s
The other tutor: a Brit who’s based in the UK, but does training all over the world and loves the States
The assessor: a Brit, now based in Texas
How I got the job: via the CELTA mailing list. Until two weeks before I left, I’d never had any plans to go to the States!
The accommodation: at a residential hotel, with a microwave and fridge in the room, and shared kitchens
The evenings: putting together input sessions, cooking, planning my travels, basketball, exploring San Diego
The weekends: exploring San Diego, whale watching (no whales, but lots of dolphins!), Torrey Pines, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Lowell Observatory, LA, Hollywood, space shuttle
The lows: self-induced tiredness, having to cook all the time (due to my exclusion diet)
The highs: an amazing opportunity for adventure – it definitely won’t be my last trip to the States!

San Diego
San Diego
Flagstaff, Grand Canyon and Lowell Observatory
Flagstaff, Grand Canyon and Lowell Observatory
LA collage

15th November

Fly to San Francisco

15th-19th November

Staying at the Fisherman’s Wharf hostel, where I could see the Golden Gate Bridge from my window through the trees.
Whale watching (a pair of humpbacks 🙂 ), hop-on hop-off bus tour, Alcatraz, exploring, a cable car all to myself, a day in Yosemite

San Francisco collage

19th November

Greyhound bus to Sacramento, where I stayed in a beautiful hostel (bottom left in the collage). Visited the Capitol building – until recently I didn’t realise Sacramento is the capital of California, as I’m sure many people don’t!

Sacramento collage

20th November

Old Town Sacramento, underground tour, California Railroad Museum, river boat trip
Overnight Greyhound to Portland, Oregon

21st November

A very wet day in Portland, when most of my attempts to explore failed. The one that didn’t was the Wells Fargo museum, where I discovered they used to transport everything from wedding cakes to cattle!
Trip to the cinema with a Portland native who was in the bed next to me at the hostel in San Francisco 🙂

Portland collage

22nd November

Whole day on the bus from Portland to Vancouver, arriving at about 9pm

23rd November

Settling in, walking to downtown Vancouver, seeing the sun set from the Lookout above the city

24th November-19th December

CELTA tutor: course 3
The place: Vancouver, British Columbia
The trainees: 18! 14 native speakers, 1 Russian speaker, 1 Iranian, 1 French, 1 Chinese; 8 women, 10 men; early 20s-late 50s
The other tutor: a Brit who’s lived in Canada for the last couple of years
The assessor: a Brit based in Vancouver
How I got the job: via the CELTA mailing list and the connection between the schools in San Diego and Vancouver
The accommodation: week 1: in a shared house with travellers from all over the world, all in Vancouver on working visas; weeks 2-4: at a building which used to be a hotel and has recently become little apartments
The evenings: putting together input sessions (though not as many as before), cooking, marking assignments and more assignments
The weekends: meeting family friends and a fellow blogger, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Victoria, Butchart Gardens, Whistler, Stanley Park Seawall, exploring Vancouver, the aquarium, two hockey matches (one of which was a teddy bear toss)
The lows: self-induced tiredness and illness; problems with the first accommodation (although the people were lovely!); the fact that the assignments seemed to be breeding!
The highs: more adventures; fantastic wildlife sightings (bald eagles, a sea otter, raccoon, herons); the natural beauty of BC

Vancouver skyline
Vancouver skyline
Vancouver collage
Victoria and Butchart Gardens
Victoria and Butchart Gardens

20th-24th December

I wrote most of this sitting at Pacific Central Station waiting for the bus to Seattle. I’m now finishing it off at Manchester Airport where I’m waiting for the train which will take me on the last leg of my journey. I’ve spent 2.5 fun days in Seattle, relaxing and exploring the city, and I even got to see Mount Rainier.

It’s now 9:45am on Christmas Eve in the UK, and my body thinks it’s 1:45am, so I’m nicely jetlagged in time for Christmas with my family!

What’s next?

Who knows? I’m hoping to get a visa to go back to Sevastopol as soon as I can, but all that sits in the hands of bureaucracy, over which I have no control. It also depends on the situation between Russia and the West not getting any worse. The final factor is the opening times of the embassy, which is closed for both the UK and Russian public holidays. All that means I have no idea when I’ll be back in Sevastopol.
My only other firm plan in the near future is the IH Director of Studies conference in early January, by which time I hope to at least have applied for my visa!

So that’s why I haven’t really blogged since the end of July 🙂 I hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure and the photos!

Merry Christmas everyone, and I hope you have a successful and happy 2015!

12 thoughts on “Four CELTAs (OR Excuses for not blogging)

  1. What a cool few months you’ve had 🙂 Hope you’ve had a restful Christmas, all the best wishes for the new year and dealing with visa bureaucracy. Do you know yet when you’ll be in London for the IH conference?


    1. I do. I’ll be there 8th-10th January. I might be coming down the evening before (the 7th) because it starts at 8:30 in the morning, not a time I particularly enjoy on London public transport! And it now looks like visa bureaucracy won’t be happening…


  2. Hi Sandy, what a year that was for you! I am just completing my TiT training and read this and wondered how I get on the CELTA mailing list? Thanks for all your useful blogs about becoming a trainer. Emma


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