Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Change can be daunting

When Pam and I decided to retire and live in Spain, it seemed a simple decision to make. However, the logistics of carrying that through were challenging. We had to find a home in Spain, sell our house in the UK and of course retire from our jobs. There were a host of other things we had to do as well and a mountain of paperwork to be dealt with.

Once we were on the plane with a one way ticket, it all seemed final. There was no going back at that stage, this was make or break.

The reality of what we had done kicked in within a few weeks as we faced life, not just in a different town but a different country with a language that we barely understood. We still recall standing in Eroski supermarket wondering what on earth we were going to buy to feed ourselves. In those early days, we went out armed with a dictionary to help us work out what we were buying and more important, how it should be prepared.

Actually, what helped us through those early days was the fact we had so much to do. Apart from all the procedures for establishing ourselves here, there was a house to sort out along with a garden. Pam and I barely had time to stop and reflect on the life changing decision we had made. That came over a year later.

Pam and I have now lived here 10 years but it doesn’t feel like it and that is a good thing. We’d made the right decision.

Now our eldest daughter, Jemma, has just made a similar life changing move.

Jemma worked for Wolverhampton Council as a Senior Play Development Officer for 11 years, a job which she has mostly enjoyed. The crunch came when the Council decided to move to “single status” a couple of years ago and bodged the process up. Clearly, they needed to save money which meant that cost cutting rather than equality was the order of the day.

Following that, the council decided that the Play Service would have to be cut anyway and although Jemma’s job was saved, there was no way of knowing for how long. This was the trigger for Jemma to become proactive.

With a wealth of experience of dealing with children, the obvious choice was to train as a teacher so she applied for a PGCE course at Wolverhampton University.

Jemma passed her interview as we all knew she would and then had to take the Maths and English tests that all new teachers face. Again, she passed those with ease first time round. Not surprisingly, Jemma was offered a place on the course, originally for next year but later changed to this year. For those who are unaware, places on PGCE course are hard fought for and so Jemma really had to prove herself to be selected.

Yesterday was the big day when Jemma started her course. Like Pam and I when we came to Spain, she had been too busy to think about the reality of the change she was making to her life. That was until the morning when it struck her hard. She sat in the hall at the Walsall campus wondering whether she had done the right thing. Luckily, one of the tutors spotted her and took her to one side for a chat to reassure her. Today, she feels more confident and as the weeks pass, that confidence will grow.

Jemma will make a brilliant teacher, of that there is no doubt. Once she gets into the classroom, Jemma will shine and all those nagging doubts about whether she did the right thing will vanish just as they did for us once we had settled to normal life in Spain.

No matter how old you are and how much experience you have under your belt, major changes to your life can “knock you for six”. They are unsettling which is why most of us would prefer to put them off. It takes a lot of courage to make a decision like Jemma has, it shows great strength of character. I say best of luck to her, although she really won’t need it.

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