At the end of last school year I enrolled in a plumbing course and this week the classes finally started!
It was great, and quite relaxing actually.
When I was in secondary school I already took up the idea of becoming a plumber. I used to say that, if I didn’t manage to finish my school, I would love to practice that job. Years passed and I never got back to it. Finished university, took a teacher’s class and after a few jobs, I started teaching adults. It is a beautiful job, but I discovered that next to teaching I really like a more manual occupation.
For about three years I renovated my apartment with my father and I got a taste of different construction related practices. In my apartment in Brussels I let an entrepreneur do all the plumbing and electrical work, but it was quite a disappointment. Obviously, it is known that in construction and renovations there are always delays and timetables shift a lot. Unfortunately when I say a lot, it was really a lot in my case. We’re talking about a small apartment that needed electricity, central heating and some basic sanitary installations, and I was told they could do it in two weeks. Cool. I decided to live in a garden shed for the time being and shower at school. Cooking was on a camping fire and the dishes… well, who does the dishes anyway. Two weeks became a month, a month became three months. The entrepreneur spread the two weeks like you would spread a small spoon of peanut butter on a huge slice of toast. Uhum. Didn’t see that coming.
Long story short, when my boyfriend and I decided to buy a new house, I didn’t want to fall into the same trap and wanted to do things myself. It is also practical to be able to install toilets, lavabos, baths, showers etc. Yes, we’re buying a house! I’ll definitely tell more about that in the future!
Work and study
You’re reading it right, I’m combining my full time teacher job with my studies as a plumber. I’m really grateful that the school helped me to organise my teaching duties so I could enroll in the class. All my teaching hours are put on three days. This way I have two complete days for studying.
It is a bit funny, because I’m learning the crafts(wo)manship at the school where I teach. So now I’m student and teacher at one. I think it is hilarious.
So on Wednesday and Friday I go to the KTA Zavelenberg, a technical school that is located at a 40 minute walk. The classes start at 9h00 and stop at 17h00, with a one hour break and two smaller breaks.
My ususual schedule was turned upside down and no I go to Laken, Anderlecht and Brussels 1000 to teach Dutch instead of teaching at the same place every day. I spend quite some time on the metro, but that’s ok. Something else I wasn’t used to, is that now I also need to have my lunch at school. I’ve had the luxury for five years to be at home at noon and cook a fresh, hot meal. Now I still cook, but when I eat, it’s always cold. (I’m writing about my lunches soon). Some days are heavier than others, with 7,5 hours of teaching, but when I realise that this is so I can become a plumber, it is really not that difficult.
About my classmates. They. Are. Fabulous. Before class, I was a bit afraid that the other students wouldn’t like me, being a woman, already having a job and master degree. Right now, they don’t mind at all. It even seems they find it funny. They accept (or maybe tolerate, whatever) me as one of them. Officially, we are with 11 students, but until now, I’ve seen only 6 other students. They are mainly young, between 17 and 20 and most didn’t finish secondary school. They want to learn a job, make money, live and thrive.
Some have a legible problem with concentration. For example, Imad, he just looooves hanging everywhere and sometimes takes weird positions. Last Wednesday, our first class, he just strook this pose, it was hysterical. Like in that movie, Dr. Strangelove, where Major Kong sits on – the bomb- he sat on a boiler. The resemblance was uncanny. Haha.
What do we learn?
The course is divided into two parts. In the first semester we’ll learn plumbing, the second focuses on installing central heating systems.
The first class we broke down the final work of the year before. It was an interesting exercise to get to know different utensils, materials and pieces. We also started with some thick walled steel pipes. We had to “cut” them on the right length and then make some screw-thread. The second class, on Friday, I sadly discovered that I made a mistake of half a centimeter on the length of one of my pipes, so I’ll have to remake them. But that’s ok. I think I’ll less likely make that same mistake again in more crucial moments.
On Friday we were asked to bend alpex pipes and at last thin walled steel pipes. The alpex pipes are more flexible, but you still need to use pliers so you don’t damage the pipe. The thin walled steel was very hard to bend. For this I tried to manage my breathing so I could put more pressure. Putting the pliers partially on the table helped too. It felt really cool to do my first small exercise.
Looking forward to more!
As I already said, my classmates are really kind and seem motivated. But that wouldn’t be of any use if the teacher wasn’t super too! He really is. I feel like he knows how to explain all these things in a calm and composed way and whenever he shows something he makes sure everyone gets it. On the website of the school, you can see him in action: CVO Brussel . There is a short video with some promotion on the course. He teaches the two days and is an independent plumber next to that, which is super useful, as that way, he is in the job all the time and he’s not just giving some vague information that he never executes himself.
I’m absolutely looking forward to next week. I’m so curious about what we will learn this time.