013 – Clowns, Degrees and Rowdy German Teens: My year in review (May-August 2012)

Part one, covering January-April can be found here:



May 2012 was a real funfest for me.  Indeed, to save typing, I took a photo that conveniently sums up my May. Have a gawk:


Note the occasional smiley face along with the words and punctuation marks of encouragement in Spanglish at the bottom of the sheet. OK, melodramatics aside, it was definitely a less-than-thrilling period of my life. Suffice to say, when four long years of study concluded on the 29th of May, I almost spontaneously combusted. And indeed, the sun was shining, the Pimm’s was flowing, and folks was happy. We’d done it. What’s more, with the madness of May behind us, June promised to be a helluv’an exciting month.


What happens when you finish one of the most intense years of your life? The answer is obvious. You dress up as circus weirdos! Drunken camping becomes a good idea! You shell out £50 for a ticket to a nightclub you normally avoid like the plague, in order to ride dodgems and see singers you don’t give a monkeys about! Hooray at the hysteria caused by post-examness! All this, and more, contributed to a whirlwind of a month that basically let us all blow off a bit of steam. And indeed, by the end of it, steam had been blown off. Very little steam…remained unblown…off. Or something to that effect.


“£50 a ticket! By the way, we’re ripping you off, lol”.

The grad ball – at £50 a ticket, was no cheap affair. Especially given that they rescheduled the only act I was interested in without warning. If I could rate it on tripadvisor or Amazon it would get a lacklustre rating on the entertainment front. However, it was STILL amazing.

Just days after the aforementioned soirée, I also found out that, not only had I not failed my exams, I’d actually done rather well in them (shock, horror!). And so I found myself in a time to really reflect on the end of an era in Southampton. The year had been both the toughest and most rewarding of my three years at university (YA aside). Already nostalgic, I look back on my university days with a great deal of fondness. It’s thanks to university that I basically discovered probably my biggest passion: Spanish; allowing me to meet people, forms bonds and discover cultures otherwise inaccessible had I not taken it at university. Studying at So’ton opened up various avenues of interest such as a possible future career in translation. Socially, I got to be a part of a choir and various language society committees, allowing me to organise student events – and socially, I made some of the best friends I have ever had. Every single job I’ve had abroad (Mallorca, Rennes, Mexico) has been a direct result of being in the Modern Languages department at Southampton University. And what a bloody good department it is, too. Oh, and I got a degree whilst I was at it. Not bad going, eh? Thanks again, Southampton.


 Pretty buildings? Must be a good uni…

Alone with my departure from Southampton, the end of June brought a trip down memory lane, a lane specifically leading to Platja de Muro, Mallorca, where I’d spent the summer of 2010 working in a maze as an entertainer. Yes, two years ago my evenings were mainly whiled away frightening children and adults alike as a creepy clown called Jo-Jo. It was the best summer of my life.


I become less scary when I put the mask on.

Now, at the thought of Mallorca, you’re probably imagining the gorgeous beaches and the promise of sun, sand and sangria, and indeed, there is no shortage of any of this in Platja de Muro. Nonetheless, the week I spent back in Mallorca was actually somewhat underwhelming. For want of a better way to explain this, something just didn’t quite feel right. After all, my memories of that summer were all based on personal nostalgia, and nostalgia can sometimes do strange things to us. I say this, because, although I had a lot of fun during the week that I returned to Mallorca, the truth is, the magic of the place had worn off completely for me – and it was only in going back to this place that I realised it would probably never be back. It got left in 2010. Of course, it was great to be by the beach; to run around the maze doing funny voices, to see some familiar faces, and to try to get some FUCKING COLOUR to my skin, but really, it was just like being any other holiday destination: nice, but kind of soulless. What made the experience so special originally was what was missing this time. Without the people that I had worked with two years before, I felt a lack of “belonging” to the place, which was quite sad. That being said, the lady in the supermarket still recognised me from two years ago. What a babe.


No sooner had I left the world of education at Southampton than I was plunged back into it, when, in July, I began a month’s work as a teacher at Eagle International School in Dorset. My good friend and colleague, Lloyd, and I lodged with the same host couple, Alan and Liz, the latter of whom provided more than enough unintentional comedic value for us to work with during five weeks. The job at the school essentially comprised two main roles: teaching and leading. “Teaching” involved giving English classes through the medium of enthralling, child-friendly topics such as saving the environment through reducing carbon emissions. “Leading” involved dragging students to sites of interest in England to demonstrate to them that there are other great things about this country than its abundance of Primani shops. (Seriously, they were nuts about Primark).

During my time as teacher/leader extraordinaire at Eagle International, I met and taught over 100 German teenagers who came in three big batches throughout the month of July. It was to be firsthand experience of working with the most awkward age group, but I was ready for the challenge. Unexpectedly, many, or even most of them were incredibly well-behaved; good as gold, if we’re going to compare their conduct to that of a precious metal. But even more unexpected was that it was the rowdiest of the groups that was most fun to work with. Seriously, I endured a group from Dortmund so hyperactive and badly-behaved in class that I had to spend most of the lessons screaming at them. About half of them appeared to have some form of ADD, and one 13-year-old charmer even told me to “fuck off” during one of my thrilling class activities. Now, this probably sounds like any teacher’s nightmare – and yet, the reason they were so much fun was because along with the disruption, came bags of personality. Also, we got to work with Julia, probably the best group leader you could ever hope for. She was loads of fun and spoke English with a cockney accent, which just added to her overall entertainment value. We love you Julia!

Working 9-7 most days, and having only four days off in five weeks was pretty grim. Nonetheless, day trips with three hours of “free time” provided ample opportunity to sample many of England’s fine drinking establishments. Thank God we are a nation of alcoholics, meaning a bar was never far away…

And indeed, the midday pub trips proved to be a vital remedy for the many traumas to be endured during group excursions, which included: arduously trekking through the entirety of Dartmoor National Park with 40 reluctant whippersnappers; being forced to play word games all day in German whilst simultaneously being mocked and photographed by a mob of students, and losing half a group…in Central London…with 14 students in tow…that I found abandoned in a random tube station…right in the middle of Gay Pride celebrations where all the roads had been closed. Nonetheless, these challenges were overcome and a small price to pay in exchange for a salary, and free trips to London, Stonehenge, Oxford and other such places in the South.

So that’s it for my July! Oh yeah, I also, like, graduated from university and stuff:


 I would have got the robe for free if they’d let me pay in human sweat. Dressing in black in the middle of July is so not a good idea.


The first couple of days of August saw the end of my stay in Poole, and I was soon on my way back to Lincoln. In spite of the numerous opportunities to sleep in, see friends, and just generally recover from a clearly hectic June-July period, I found myself clawing at the walls to do something new, challenging and mentally-stimulating. Indeed, I even scrambled together a blog post about this:


When in Lincoln, I tend to slip into a hideous 03:00-13:00 sleeping pattern, allowing me approximately two hours’ daylight during the winter months. Seriously – I set an alarm for 10am today in a vain attempt to break this pattern. Getting up was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. Also, the boredom and lack of structure to my days tends to drive me to completely desperate measures to occupy my time – such as watching unhealthy amounts of American reality TV, discovering Olympic events that I never even knew existed, and starting a blog like the one you are reading write now. However, I was comforted to know that it would only be a matter of weeks before the airport would be beckoning yet again for me to embark on a new adventure. And that is what is to follow…

That’s it for this part of the recap folks! Next time I’ll tackle Autumn 2012, the time that I surrendered my British passport in order to become, as Groundskeeper Willie says a “cheese-eating surrender monkey”.

Auf wiedervoir


P.S. One of my favourite things about my job at Eagle International was reading my students’ journals (they had to write something in English every day). One of the little blighters used to write a “question for Jonny” in her journal every day for me, which was always a welcome source of entertainment. My favourite was her enquiring as to my opinion on fellow teacher Abby:



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