13. Getting started on the plan for a new life.

A major stride has been accomplished in the past few days. We have enrolled on a Teaching English as Foreign Language course and submitted our applications for the cookery course which will hopefully lead to a chalet job. The plan is really taking shape now and more people are aware of what we are going to do, although we are trying to keep it from being too widely known at work as that could prove awkward if certain people find out in advance of our notice submission. I anticipate that being a quite a challenge, the end of an era in my life, not just a chapter.

As a qualified professional you are that vocation. The label is not just the job you do, it helps to define who you are as a person. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister and a physiotherapist (amongst other roles). I will be all of the former without choice until death severs that relationship and perhaps even after that in memories but I will cease to be a physiotherapist once I stop paying my subscription to the Health Care Professions Council. I will no longer be allowed to practice my craft in the UK or abroad. Ironically the title of physiotherapist has only recently become protected yet for most of my working life that has not been the case. I and anyone else could have called themselves a physiotherapist whenever wanted, regardless of registration. Now that I would like to retain the title I am no longer allowed to. I have held the initials ‘MCSP’ after my name since 1982 albeit because I paid my annual subscription but to a very select club.

Even after I hand in my notice and am no longer working as a physiotherapist I will still feel like one; I will still have the knowledge and skills. After a 2 year period of not practising it would be deemed that I would be de-skilled, despite their deep embedment, which is not a totally unreasonable assumption. This is the criteria for continued registration and is prudent to maintain a standard of delivery to patients. So when I hand in my notice it will not just be the job I will be leaving but the profession to which I have been aligned and defined by for over 30 years. It feels very strange now but will be much more so when the time arrives.

At this time in my life I appear to be embarking on 2 new careers and there may be more yet! Teaching is a renowned profession, one at which I have dabbled at the edges and he had vacated many years ago, not expecting to return. The course on which we are embarking does not qualify us as regular school teachers in the UK but does facilitate a role whereby we can teach our mother tongue to non-native English speakers either here or abroad. There is an assumption that we know our subject as we are fluent, articulate and reasonably eloquent but having started the modules I am realising how little I know about the structure of my own language. I know when it doesn’t sound correct but am unsure of the patterns and rules which govern English grammar. Our comprehensive education did not assist this process. Some of the terms and tenses are definitely familiar but it is much more complex than I’d anticipated. However, I have managed to pass my first assignment so I will persevere in the hope that I can learn more about my own communication in the process. I do have a concern that if we are not in a position to consolidate this learning quite soon after completion of the course we may forget much of our subject. I have learnt that from my previous educational courses.

In our plan we will be participating in our chalet role first and therefore not in a position to even consider a TEFL job until next spring, more than a year away. Unfortunately both of us overlooked the time restriction imposed on the course which is not necessarily a detrimental aspect but we may have waited to enrol later if we had realised that we had to complete 140hours of study in 3 months from now! There is an option to buy extensions but the idea is that we economise and it may actually be preferable to knuckle down and complete it sooner as will have much to do later.

DSC00108We have also applied for a chalet cookery course. The one we favour guarantees a job for the first season on successful completion. We are both familiar with the host company having enjoyed their ski trips both separately and together, so we feel quietly confident that we are aiming at the appropriate market – PLUs – people like us. The course incorporates more than just cookery but that is the over-riding qualification required to ensure no outbreaks of salmonella or such like. Good hearty fare is also an important component of a successful ski holiday. Appetites are cultivated during the day’s exertions and delicious cuisine is the norm for the affluent middle classes who frequent ski holidays as well as regular meals out at home. So we will have more concentration and studying to undertake just as we complete (hopefully) the TEFL course.

There are other aspect to be learnt when running a chalet but most of those relate to general house-keeping so don’t concern me too much, unless I discover that I’ve been doing it wrong all these years. I think I may be able to relax during the session when learning how to clean a bathroom and I could possibly deliver the lesson on how to light a fire, without firelighters. I suspect some of our fellow students may be considerably younger and perhaps never had the opportunity to develop these skills as these tasks were undertaken by obliging mothers or paid domestic help. My poor abused son recently informed me that none of his friends had to change their own beds – really?! Nice try.

All the meals during the week of the course will be provided so I assume that we will be eating our own or each other’s final creations which could prove interesting. As a coeliac, all my food must be gluten-free, so I will be a first hand example of the dietary requirements which may need to be met in reality. I just hope they appreciate that and I don’t spend the week ravenous as the students get to grips with the vagaries of gluten-free flour, particularly with cakes, biscuits, pastries and bread.

When travelling further afield than the Alps I may encounter some difficulties trying to obtain gluten–free food. Basics such as fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products are all gluten-free in their natural state but in the Western world we have a penchant for bread in all its guises and for that we use wheat. In some further flung places the grain of the zone may be rice, corn/maize or other but as with most western influences dominating, wheat is becoming more prevalent and infiltrating ‘authentic’ dishes. This staple part of diet does tend to be the most convenient, cheapest and instantly sustaining so I will need to be cognisant of this potential restriction when choosing our subsequent destinations. It is ironic, as we potentially move away from the western world, people here are finally waking up to the possibility that too many wheat based products in our diet is inherently unhealthy and alternatives are being actively sourced, such as quinoa. However that is the luxury of the capitalist society and unlikely to be the case where we may land as they will probably still be chasing that western ideal which is slowing dissipating and which we are trying to evade.

Oct 2013

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