Thursday, December 20, 2012

semester one: check

We survived one semester of teaching!! Our bodies had given out by the end. For nearly a month, Chris and I were sick at overlapping points. But now that the storm of the last week is far behind, the sun is out and we can relax a bit and look back on what we’ve accomplished.

In August, I posted a short (and early!) reflection on teaching, and those ideas still hold true. It’s exhausting, exhausting work – but I have found a career I truly love. Though I have a tendency to whinge* about my work, it’s usually about how much time I spend working rather than the nature of the work. I dislike grading, true, but planning units is like unraveling some mysterious, enjoyable puzzle. And then I get to take those creations and work them through with so many interesting – sometimes infuriating, but always interesting – young people.

I also look forward to the next few years, when I can learn how to balance teaching with actual living. Each semester should get easier – or so our colleagues tell us. Right now it’s just a rush of getting to know the students, the school, and the curriculum.

Other than teaching, a lot has happened in the past month and a half. Highlights:

--Activity Week. Tiring, yes, but I got a chance to meet some new students and experience the mountains like I never had before. Our family was never much of a hiking/camping troupe, so I had no idea what to expect on a 6 day trek. What I found are that it’s really, really cold; that I need not bring any extra changes of clothes (just embrace the dirt/funk);  that the right shoes are really important; and that your body will push on, push on until you have nothing left. It was a lovely trip, though I was certainly not ready to teach only two days after returning.

--Thanksgiving. I haven’t been home in Rochester for Thanksgiving for quite a while (L), but we’d been used to our Iowa tradition of a huge potluck with friends. Anne and I would work on the turkey at someone’s larger ovens, I’d make stuffing and Chris’s grandma’s spice cookies (a favorite of everyone’s), and then we’d converge, eat, and chill. So being in a completely new environment this year was kind of depressing. But we did have much to be thankful for, including a Woodstock potluck with nearly 50 attendees! I tried my hand at stuffing without celery and sausage, and it turned out so-so… (I still haven’t figured out how to cook here.) We didn’t have a turkey, but it felt good to gather with others over fabulous eats on my favorite holiday.

--Fall Concerts. November was a flurry of activity for the music students here at WS! All of the ensembles put on their fall concerts, and boy was it a treat. It’s great to see a totally different side of my students, and to see all their hard work pay off in recital format. And I even got to perform with the staff choir!! It’s been a long time since I’ve done a choir performance, and it was loads of fun to get up there and share what I love to do.

--Adopting our dog. Sadie (formally Saddy) has been a lovely addition to our household. Though having a pet again is kind of a pain – think three walks per day and many stray dogs annoying us – the benefits easily outweigh the annoyance. We love coming home to Sadie’s excited welcome and affection. She’s a sweet girl, though she is not good with little kids or coolies. We were really sad to leave her for the break, but she’s with our ayah and her kids, who clearly love the dog too.

We’ll check in soon about our recent trip to Mumbai (with pictures!). In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all of our loved ones back home – we miss you! 

*whinge (v) - to complain persistently and in an annoying manner. Thanks for teaching us new words, Commonwealth people!!!


  1. That was wonderful, Mel! As usual you help me picture your life there!! I'm so pleased to hear that you're enjoying teaching.
    Chris has no excuse now for not writing since you are off for over six weeks! Can't wait to see pictures of your trip! Hope to speak with you two before Christmas but if now hope that it is Merry and you aren't on the train all day! Love you, Mom2

    1. Hey Mom! Glad you enjoyed the update -- I'll have Chris write the next one... You're right - no excuses now! :) We should be able to do a skype from our hotel because the internet is actually working; we'll email a time soon. Love, Mel

  2. Lovely to see you settling into a tough and rewarding profession. Life for you both looks good from where I'm looking at it and I'm feeling something like pride - not sure what it is exactly and know that's not the right word.
    And I whinge all the time.
    Wonder if you'll take in any cricket (20-20) on your travels - I'd recommend it as it's meant to be amazing in the crowds.


    1. Thanks, Nigel! It's strange -- I feel like I know you through Chris, though none of us has ever met in person. Strange the way our world works, eh? I hope we can all meet up on our travels someday.

      As for cricket, we see, we notice, we don't understand. :) But perhaps a live game would make the difference...

      Happy holidays, best, mel

  3. So good to hear an update, Melanie!! Hooray for making it through semester 1!! Tell Chris our ping pong table misses him. ;)

    1. Thanks, Christine!! We're glad we survived. And Chris definitely misses the ping pong table! Hope you guys have safe travels back to Texas -- sing some carols for me! love, mel