Ó Chonamara go Cambodia – From Connemara to Cambodia

Ó Chonamara go Cambodia – Seachtain Amháin Le Dhul

(Leagan Béarla ar bhun- English version below)

Éadaí fós sna málaí a d’iompar mé trasna na tíre ar an turas deiridh le hiarnáil amach, iad ag stanadh orm ó chúinne an seomra, láithreacht déanta níos glórmhaire toisc go bhfuil níos lú ná coíscíse le dhul go n-imeoidh mé arís.
Ag an bpointe seo is dóigh go bhfuil an maisín níocháin faoi a thuilleadh bhrú ná mar atá mé fhéin, ag iarraidh dul i ngleic leis an lámhdeachais (turnover) seo agus cinnte a dhéanamh go bhfágfaidh mé le mála droma lán le héadaí úra le chaitheamh agus tuáillí breá glan is tirim.
Teastaíonn uaim dul tríd gach rud, rudaí le thabhairt a shocrú amach, rudaí le caitheamh. Ba cheart dom liosta dhéanamh, rudaí a sheacáil as an liosta sin, pacáil a dhéanamh uair amháin le feiceáil an dtéann gach rud isteach, agus gach rud a bhaint amach arís le stuif a bhogadh thart.

Ba cheart dom. Ach ar chúis éigin, níl mé ró-bhuartha faoi.
Mar tá a fhios agam go mbeidh sé uilig togha. Cé nár chaith mé an oiread seo ama as baile riamh le chéile ag aon am amháin – tá tréimhsí fada déanta agam i nGaillimh le seachtainí ar deireadh a chéile gan trácht ná smaoineamh a chaitheamh siar don bhaile – ach tá sé seo difriúil. 10 seachtain ag obair agus ag taistil in oirdheisceart na hÁise. Seans mhaith nach mbeidh mé ag iarraidh filleadh abhaile ariamh – ná bí buartha, a Mham, beidh mé sa bhaile don Nollaig, ach cá bhfios cén áit a dtógfaidh an taithí seo mé ina dhiaidh sin – agus táim oscailte le cíbe rud!
B’fhéidir nach bhfuil sé gearr go leor go fóill leis na sceirbe a bheith ag teacht isteach…ach ar bhealach éigin airím nach mbeidh siad ansin an uair seo. Airíonn sé uilig comh maith sin. Airíonn sé i gceart. Nílim buartha faoi na nithe beaga de; na rudaí nach gá bheith buartha faoi. An scaoll idir eitiltí leis an gceangal a dhéanamh i gceart, nó an bosca mór piollairí malaria a bheidh liom an t-am uilig, gan trácht ar na féidireachtaí a bheidh ann teacht i dteagmháil le roinnt galair eile.
Is cúis imní níos mó ar fad dom é go mbeidh mé nochtaithe ar fad – ag taistil liom féin go tír comh iasachta seo gan teagmháil láithreach ar bith nó lámh le greim a choinneál ar má tharlaíonn aon rud.

Ar bhealach eile táim níos mó ar bís ná mar a bhí mé riamh d’aon rud. Ag cur mé fhéin amach ansin mar seo – dúshlánach agus dánaíoch go leor, ach ag forbairt ar mo chuid sháiniúlachta agus neart fhéin ag an am céanna, mar ní bheidh deis ach a bheith ag súil amach dom fhéin. Mise a bheidhs ar thús cadhanaíochta do na geataí imeachta, don deasc ‘visas’, don t-ostán agus ar aghaidh don scoil gach lá ina dhiaidh sin. Mise a bheidhs freagrach as cé comh maith no holc a n-éiríonn liom ar an turas seo – agus seo an rud – ní fíor-rogha atá san ‘olc’ sin!!
Is follasach a rá go bhfuil idir meascán de mhothúcháin agam, ach ag an am céanna, creidim go láidir nach mbeidh riamh aon ‘am ceart’ le rud mar seo a dhéanamh. Beidh ‘risk factor’ de shaghas éigin i gcónaí ann, agus da mba rud é gur fhán muid uilig i gcónaí ar an ‘opportune moment’ glacadh le dúshláin nó athraithe móra, bheadh muid ag fanacht go deo!

Mar atá sé anois airím réidh, airím láidir agus go breá cumasach, ar bís le feiceáil cá dtógfaidh an turas seo mé, go fisiciúil agus go spioradálta. Laethanta caite ag breathnú in éad agus ardmheas ag post Kathryn Thomas ar ‘No Frontiers’ is mé i mo shuí le cóipleabhar mata thart, mé anois ag cothú leis an ‘wanderlust’ agus spreagadh chun taistil is mé in ann faoi dheireadh dul amach liom fhéin sa domhan. Nílim tosaithe ag pacáil go fóill, ach tá liosta intinne déanta agam de na nithe a bheidh uaim, nithe a bheadh áisiúil, nithe nach dteastaíonn uaim in aon chor, agus nithe a ndéanfaidh mé gach iarracht a thabhairt liom ar aon chaoi.
An cúis imní is mó atá agam i láthair na huaire ná ag oibriú amach cén chaoi mála droma, giotar, mata íoga agus laptop a thabhairt liom uilig ag aon am amháin tríd na haerfoirt éagsúla agus amchriosanna (time zones) le casadh le duine éigin ar an taobh eile – le fírinne, d’fhéadfainn cúraimí níos measa a bheith agam faoi láthair! Tá go maith.

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From Connemara to Cambodia – 1 Week to Go

Ironing out the creases on clothes that I have yet to unpack is a beckoning chore, the bags I’ve just lugged cross-country made all the more noticeable in the corner of the room due to the fact that there are less than two weeks to go until I leave again.

At this stage I’m fairly sure that the washing machine is more apprehensive than I am, being expected to accommodate this turnover and ensure that I leave fully equipped with a backpack full of fresh clothes to wear and clean, dry towels. I need to go through everything, to sort out what to bring, what to wear. I should make a list, tick things off, pack once to see if everything fits and unpack again to rearrange things.

I should. But for some reason I’m not that worried about it.

Because I know it’ll all be fine. Even though I’ve never been away from home for this long all in one go – I’ve done stints in Galway for weeks on end without even thinking about home – but this is different. 10 weeks of work and travel in South East Asia. Chances are I won’t ever want to come home – don’t worry, Mum, I’ll be home for Christmas, but God knows where the experience could take me after that – and I’m open to anything!

Maybe it’s not quite close enough to it yet for the anxieties to have crept in…but somehow I feel like they’re not going to be there this time. It all feels so fine. It feels right. I’m not worried about the small details of it; the unecessary things. The panic of making connection flights, or the large box of malaria tablets I’ll have to keep on my person like a passport at all times, or the possibilities of contracting some unknown foreign diseases.

I’m more concerned with the fact that I’ll be so exposed – travelling alone, to such a foreign country and with no immediate contact or hand to hold should something go wrong.

In another way I’m more excited than I ever have been for anything. Exposing oneself like this is simultaneously daring and challenging, yet also extremely character-building and exciting, because I’ll have no choice but to look out for myself. I’ll be the one leading the way to the departure gates, to the visa desk, to the hotel and subsequent school the next day. I’ll be the one responsible for how well or badly the trip goes, and here’s the rub – ‘badly’ is not even being considered a real option here!

I think it’s safe to say I’m experiencing a very mixed range of emotions, but at the same time, I’m a firm believer that there is never going to be a ‘right time’ for me to do any of this or for me to make it happen. There’s always going to be some sort of risk factor involved, and if we were to always wait around for the ‘opportune moment’ to come to undertake a big change or challenge, we’d be waiting around forever!

As it stands I feel ready, I feel strong and capable and excited to see where this trip takes me, both literally and spiritually. My days of ogling Kathryn Thomas’s job on ‘No Frontiers’ as I sat and finished maths homework that was due days beforehand are finally being given some food to grow and see what can be made of the wanderlust that frustrated me at not being allowed out into the world. I haven’t started packing yet, but I’ve made mental lists of things I’ll need to bring, things that would be handy, things I definitely don’t need to bring, and things I’m probably going to try to bring anyway.

My main concern at the moment is how I’m going to manage a backpack, guitar, yogamat and laptop all at once as I travel through the various airports and arrive in a confusion of timezones to be (hopefully) received at the other side – to be honest, there are worse worries I could be having right now! All is well.

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My Humble Cambodia – 6 Weeks To Go

My Humble Cambodia – 6 Weeks To Go

In 6 weeks time I will jet off to Cambodia to spend 7 weeks teaching as a LoveTEFL volunteer. While it’s not the most excotic, revolutionary or innovative and original way to travel, it suits my current situation so well in that I have such a yearn to move and see and learn about the world and places and people I have not yet seen, but lack severly in available funding (I SUCK at saving!).
As I began considering a long-haul trip and went about researching possible destinations and routes, the realistic length of the time I could afford to have spent travelling alone gradually began to reflect the ever-depleting balance in my bank account, and I was forced to reconsider. Wanting to spend a lengthy period of time abroad was going to cost me, and I was more than likely looking at returning home to an empty bank account with my head hung low and another few months living back at home and being bailed out by my parents. This way, I get the best of bost worlds – 8 weeks solo travel, living in South East Asia and really getting to experience a taste of what life is like there, with weekends free to do as I please, and a structured routine for the weekdays which is sure to keep me (I hope!) from celebrating too hard at the extent of the freedom I’m sure I will feel at taking this step. At the end of this 9 weeks (I have a week longer after the course to myself in Myanmar) I will be returning home, not only with a certified TEFL qualification, but with genuine firsthand experience of teaching English to foreign students in their home setting – something which will undoubtedly lead to further job prospects for me both at home and abroad in the aftermath of my travels (post-travelling-blues are more definitely a real thing!)
This way I don’t feel so bad by blowing what little savings I have on this trip. Does ‘blowing’ really factor into this situation? I feel like I’m making a genuine extremely valuable investment into my life here!!

 There are certain things I’m nervous about, certain things I’m excited about, and other things that I can’t even begin to imagine how I’ll feel about. For one, I’ve never travelled very far alone, something which has only fueled my scatterbrained tendencies and given me excuses to depend on other people to get around and navigate for me. I know for a fact that this solo trip will be good for me, and it will only build on all the work I’ve done in past months to better myself and strengthen my presence here.
I’m excited to experience the culture and people of Southeast Asia – from what I’ve heard they are some of the friendliest and most easygoing people in the world. I don’t want to be getting too far ahead of myself in all these musings, but it’s difficult not to get excited at the prospects of a trip like this! The fact that I’ll be teaching young children language skills which will aid them in their communicative and social skills, help them be stronger and have more to give as they move forwards in their lives really appeals to me and makes me feel that I will finally be contributing to something worthwhile by helping other human beings advance in their lives. In my teaching experience up until now I have definitely found this to be true, however such diversity of cultural boundaries and opportunities to discover more about myself and the world have never before presented themselves to me or seemed so huge and exciting.
In the weeks leading up to this trip I will be concentrating on completing the online section of the TEFL course, whilst also preparing and strengthening myself both physically and mentally to undertake this trip. Today I’m focusing on securing myself an international police-check which is necessary for all LoveTEFL interns in order for them to be eligible to teach abroad. This is basically just a garda-vetting form which has to be signed by the Garda Superintendent at my local station (or ‘Supernintendo’, as we used to call them!). I’ve already checked out the vaccinations necessary to travel in Cambodia, but it seems I’m covered for them all since my trip to Uganda this time two years ago! Hard to believe it’s that long since we were there, I still remember it so clearly!

 While I plan on trying to keep this blog updated on my preparations and plans for the upcoming trip, I also understand that too much pre-meditation and pre-planning for something so large as a trip of this extent can not only get boring to read, but may ultimately result in an anti-climactic experience when I actually arrive! Hopefully I’ll be able to write regularly while I’m there, if I have no internet access then I’ll be sure to write it anyway and post it at a later date.

 For now, Lia suhn hao-y!! (That means goodbye in Kmer!!)