For the moment, though, I'd like to leave you with some thoughts on this last year's surprises. The biggest one for me is how very fond I've become of one particular group of students. Since September, I've been teaching Chinese students who have come to study in the Netherlands. One of these groups has become very special to me and we have 'clicked' in a way that doesn't always happen but when it does it makes up for all the stress and hard work that teaching Academic English to foreigners sometimes entails.
Yesterday, we had a little party after class as it was my last session of the year and I took in some snacks and drinks for my favourite students. The interesting - and surprising - thing is that they just seem to love Christmas and all it stands for, even though they come from a confuscian culture in which this particular festival has no real part. Maybe it is just the sheer joy of gift giving and decoration, but these students have made Christmas special for me again, and that was also a surprise.
This sweet card I received just says it all for me.
And here they all are - my very special "PCA2" group
It was quite an emotional occasion as I'll only see them for two more classes and then they will move on to their official study programme. I wish I could keep keep them all for another year!
Another unexpected thing is that I've realised the post graduate studies I'm doing myself are quite a disappointment. Earlier this year, I was awarded a Diploma in TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) and I thoroughly enjoyed the course, even though it was all online. I then decided to continue my studies and do my Masters through a British university. I rather expected that because it was so much more expensive, it would be of a much higher quality, but in fact it's all a bit of a let down. The work we do is mainly assessed by fellow students; there is no feedback and although we are going to be doing assignments now, the instructions are so vague and badly explained, I'm having difficulty in dealing with it. I'm even wondering if I will see it through to the final MA.
The final surprise, though, has been that of having my first published book released. I never expected this to happen this year, or to happen so quickly, but it's been quite a thrill to have the Skipper's Child taken on by Sunpenny Publishing. I am looking forward to doing some book talks and going round a few schools to promote it next year. I might even manage to get over to England for some of the same, but whatever the case, I won't let it stop me from writing...no, I won't!
Right now, Koos and I are in France. We decided to go away for Christmas this year and in fact, we are finishing off our summer holiday by visiting Charleville Mézières, the town in Champagne Ardennes that we were heading for when our van broke down in August. We only arrived this evening, so we are not sightseeing until tomorrow, and as the hotel has free Internet...well, why not blog?
The absolute last thing I want to say, then, is no surprise at all: All our very very best from Charleville Mézières. I hope you all have a very very special festive season and an absolutely fantastic 2012.
Happy Christmas from France!