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Goals within reach, or too good to be true?

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  • #110039
    Joe
    Participant

    I have an interview on Thursday for a possible teaching vacancy in China. Cool, right?

    If I am honest, the thought of teaching and going to south-east Asia is all I have thought about for the past few months, but now I am faced with the possibility that this could happen, I am faced with all the practical things I didn’t really think about. Scary stuff.

    This is arranged through the company I am doing my current TEFL qualification with (I got a TEFL course as an early birthday present, hurrah!) – I told the liaison officer there that I am flexible and available for anything but because I don’t exactly earn bucketfuls of money, my concern would be finding the money for the flights. According to the liaison officer, the contact for this school said that they would cover the cost of flights. They help with accommodation and there are no host families to deal with this time round. That suits me perfect.

    I am yet to attend this interview over Skype so naturally I will be able to ask questions. Lots of them.

    For some of you on these forums, if you have read any of my previous posts, I vowed at the start of the year to no longer be a glutton for punishment. In other words, I vowed to always look before leaping. Now it feels like I am about to literally leap into the unknown and I have to stop myself. I know I am yet to take the interview and even if I were successful I would still be in a position to refuse but I still need to consider this.

    I am faced with the possibility of things going wrong, obviously – the money is obviously a huge factor, I might be able to raise the money to live on for the first month before the first pay day but in the event that something happened, I wouldn’t have the money for the flight home. I would rather not rely on my parents for financial support and I don’t think they would be in a position where they would be able to help or bail me out in the event that things go wrong. I’ve also read about the horror stories that could potentially happen – botched visas, employers keeping hold of the passports, contract errors, withheld payments…There were some good reviews of this school but some really bad reviews as well. As part of my looking before I leap, I took it upon myself to research the school. This is the first time the TEFL company and the school are clients so obviously that set off some alarm bells.

    This is what I want more than anything else (to work and travel) – I know I am capable of the teaching side of things. I know that China will be completely different to anything I have known – it’s one thing to read about what life is like in another country and culture but it’s another thing to live it – optimistic dreaming far-out Joe is saying “you won’t know until you try it, this is something you can’t turn down” but now I have to take a step back and say – Is this really doable? Am I just going to jump at the first opportunity presented to me, even though things could potentially turn ugly and backfire? I know there will be other opportunities. I am keeping an open mind about this but I also know there is the possibility that I might have to relinquish this chance for now.

    What do you think?

    Thanks

    Joe

    • This topic was modified 4 years ago by Joe.
    #110044
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    My first thought: check the air quality there. Not long ago I talked to a person who visited Vietnam, as a tourist. He said the air in the big city or cities- don’t remember the specifications, was very bad. I asked if he wore the mask people do (seen on TV)- he said No, he hated the idea of wearing a mask. I would feel very, very uncomfortable living in a place with such bad air quality as he described, smelling the dirt in the air with every breath I take. If I lived in such dirty air, I’d do anything to move away. And I would never consider visiting such a place, let alone work there or live there otherwise.

    My second thought: the horror stories you mentioned are scary. I remember from previous threads you mentioned you’d like to travel to Scotland, and you live in the UK, so I am thinking you have very little travel experience in Europe, even in the UK, so it would make sense to me that you fulfil your traveling dream first in the UK/ Europe where it those horror stories are unlikely to happen.

    But then, of course, you are talking about a job in China, teaching – which is what you want. This is a huge draw and you don’t have such an offer elsewhere.

    Post more…?

    anita

    #110045
    Joe
    Participant

    Anita

    You are right about the air quality, if this happens I will invest in a mask.

    I’m sure you will remember in previous threads about my experiences working in Spain – the first time was as a graphic design intern. I once took a weekend away on my own to Granada, it was probably the most exciting experience I had – I was alone, this was the first time I was alone in a different country but I was okay. I reached my destination safely and I arrived back as well. The second time when I taught, not so great (I didn’t get on with the host family so my time came to an end there) – I did have to catch trains and planes and arrive in a city I had never been to before with very little help.

    But when you put it like that Anita, this is what I want and I haven’t got anything else going for me right now (you also know how it is with my family). My plan was to get a teaching job and stick around for at least a year before moving on to another destination (Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore).

    What do you think?

    Joe

    #110049
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    Regarding the air quality and wearing a mask: my last thoughts on that is to suggest that you find out the efficiency of those masks, do they make significant difference? And maybe find out what city you will be living there and research the air quality there and medical consequences on the population there.

    I went back to your first post on tiny Buddha, a year and a month ago. This is parts of the posting of the younger Joe, that I thought especially relevant here:

    “Life has been pretty uneventful for me ever since I graduated from university last September. The big wide scary world awaits. I have been unemployed for most of that time… Why do I keep beating myself up (figuratively speaking) for failing job interviews…

    I’ve been taking night classes to gain a qualification in teaching. After graduation, I was skeptical about finding work in the illustration/art industry because it is very hard to break into, so I thought adult education and becoming an art teacher would be a better choice. Those that can’t do, teach…

    I thought my luck was about to change a few months ago when I applied for a teaching job in another country – teaching English at a school. I got the job and I was so happy about it. I had to stay with a host-family and I thought things went really well to start off with. They had promised to do lots of fun things together… It got to the point where I wasn’t really enjoying staying with them and I was constantly on edge that they didn’t like me and they were beginning to resent me.

    There was also the fact that this was the first time being on my own in a foreign country with no other native English speakers around and I just felt isolated most of the time. I also happen to be an introvert –

    when the need arises, I have no problem speaking out in front of other people to do presentations – I had to teach loud schoolkids and nosy noisy teenagers. This drained a lot of my energy and after a day of trying to teach, the last thing I want to be doing is making meaningless small talk or watching things which have absolutely no interest to me on the television with the rest of the family. It got to the point where they were constantly complaining to my manager and the program co-ordinator that I wasn’t talking to them enough or involving myself – to put it simply, they wanted out of the program, there were no other accommodation arrangements so my time there was finished. Okay, maybe there was a lack of communication – I felt lonely, burned-out and there was of course the language barrier…

    I had built up expectations about this placement, that I was going to have a blast, finish the placement and that it would open doors for me. By being dismissed from the program due to irreconcilable differences with the family, I sometimes feel that they had completely destroyed this and it’s all their fault…I was out of a job and I needed that money to repay my dad back for the flight.

    I wanted to travel. Over the past year I built up this fantasy about travelling and working in as many different countries as I can and seeing all of these great things. I’m not sure if this is what I want anymore. Maybe I only felt these things because life at home without a job and without purpose is boring, and travelling would be a great escape from all of these feelings of insecurity and emptiness that I have. It would almost be like escaping from myself which sounds contradictory, I know…

    if there is one burning question I want to ask – it’s this. When you feel as though you have gotten over something bad, why is it sometimes that this problem you thought you had exorcised comes back to bite you further down the line…”

    I was going to do some analysis of then vs. now, but then, if you’d like, give it a shot and let me know if you want my (yet to be developed) thoughts.

    anita

    #110055
    Joe
    Participant

    Anita

    I’m always interested to read your input. Fire away!

    Joe

    #110092
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    Can you do some analysis first?

    anita

    #110109
    Matty
    Participant

    Hi joe,

    I study linguistics and languages at university, and every year quite a lot of graduates go off (mainly to Asia) to teach English. It’s the main occupation outcome for us. Basically what i have learnt from others and their experiences is the following:
    – Find out what is and is not covered by the school. Usually, but not always, the school will cover the cost of a return flight and accommodation. The accommodation usually comes out of your paycheck, so you never see it.
    – Find out the working conditions, working hours and most importantly: what is expected of you. You may find that some schools will say 10 hour work week, but expect you to come to work everyday to prep your lessons, or expect you to work on saturdays without notice.
    – Find out who you can liaison with, in case of emergencies with regards to the school or employment opportunity
    – Find out where the closest embassy is (especially in the case if you require a ‘leave visa’)
    – NEVER hand your passport over! They may look, but most definitely not touch. Sometimes employers will do this so that you cannot exit the job and country.
    – Speak to, email other teachers that teach at that school. Ask for recommendations from the liaison or school itself. If they are unwilling to do so, then clearly they don’t trust what the teachers will say about them.
    – Get acquainted with where you will be teaching, the local area. You don’t need to have it seered into your memory, but just knowing that there is a place to buy clothes, books, find food etc. Also, figure out how ‘dangerous’ the area is. If you are okay to go about your business at night etc. Although you are (hopefully) going to China, be aware that the rules and culture are different there.
    – This is in regards specifically to Asia, something I learnt at uni and through grad students who have worked in Asia. What you think is bribery or corruption, is not viewed the same in Asia. It’s all about greasing the wheels and making things work smoothly, rather than effectively. So just be aware of the difference. Ultimately if you don;t agree with a certain practices or customs then stand your ground.
    – Learn a bit of the foreign language (in this case Mandarin Chinese –> or the local variety), more to ‘get by’. China may have a massive population, and many Chinese learning English (more than Australia’s population!!!), but English is still foreign to them, and their grasp of English is useful only to pass exams, not to converse in (usually). So if you learn a bit of the language, it would be helpful, also it shows you are making an effort.
    – Make plans for the worst. Even if you think this is quite pessimistic, anything can go wrong. Whether you don’t like the work load, to health issues. Always have a plan out.
    – Establish relationships with the school and workers etc. As your goal is to travel and teach English, a lot people are doing the same, and they might have opportunities or might know of some that aren’t advertised. Especially if you want to build a career out of this, maybe work in international schools or universities, knowing people will allow you to hear about decent, verified opportunities.

    From a personal perspective, what you are going through is natural, your just a little shocked that things are happening. It’s like when a couple is about to get married, they have reservations. Its a big leap, with so much unknowns. I would advise, above anything else, just to plan out things. The more knowledge you have, the better you will feel. The more confident you will be.

    This is the first time the TEFL company and the school are clients so obviously that set off some alarm bells.

    Look, go with your gut feeling. A lot of horror stories exist. But that’s something to question as well. People who have good stories about their travels hardly ever write or complain because their enjoying themselves too much! If they promise you anything, get it in writing, whether via email or letter. Don’t just take people’s words for granted, wait for proof. You are entering a business, English in Asia is a business model. Just be aware of that.

    I wish you the best of luck, and I truly hope you enjoy your teaching career! ANy questions or comments, feel free to ask 🙂
    MAtty

    #110121
    Joe
    Participant

    @Anita

    Sure – would you like me to analyse from what you have posted from my first post, or are you going to analyse, or…?

    @Matty

    Thankyou so much for this, this is extremely helpful. I intend to ask lots of questions at the interview and I intend to ask the same questions to the TEFL company here in England as well to cross-reference.

    I think my main fears about this (if I were to be accepted) would be not having the means to get out of there should things go pear-shaped (they said they would pay for the flight there, I need to find out if this is just for the flight there or the return flight as well), not having the right visa or having to relinquish my passport. If they ask for my passport and I refuse, what if they make a big deal about it? I would be happy to send them a scan of the passport beforehand and give them a photocopy, but like I said, having my passport taken would be quite scary.

    I did read a positive review from somebody who was employed by the school but because they are effectively a franchise of schools, they have schools in different cities all across China and he got to choose the location, so if I am offered the choice I will ask if it would be possible for me to be located in the same place the blog writer was. Do you think the fact that they have schools all over China as part of a chain adds credibility to this? I know I sound ridiculous for asking all of these questions but it’s better to be safe than sorry I guess!

    Thanks again

    Joe

    • This reply was modified 4 years ago by Joe.
    #110135
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    It may be a good idea for you to read your previous postings here and take notes, learn from what you wrote over time, starting with your first post which I quoted from, above.

    These are my thoughts today, my analysis: There are the practicalities of this China possibility and seems to me you got an excellent reply post about it. But there are deeper things to consider, what I call “the building blocks” of what-is, of reality- this is what I am good with- the Building Blocks.

    From your first post, a year and a month ago (quotes above), I learn that teaching is not, or has not been your passion. You wrote: “Those that can’t do, teach…” Then your teaching experience was not great. You wrote about it: ” I had to teach loud schoolkids and nosy noisy teenagers. This drained a lot of my energy”.

    About traveling, you wrote: “Over the past year I built up this fantasy about travelling and working in as many different countries as I can and seeing all of these great things. I’m not sure if this is what I want anymore. Maybe I only felt these things because life at home without a job and without purpose is boring, and travelling would be a great escape from all of these feelings of insecurity and emptiness that I have. It would almost be like escaping from myself.”

    The Answer is not in Asia, in teaching, in traveling.

    At the end of your first post you asked: “When you feel as though you have gotten over something bad, why is it sometimes that this problem you thought you had exorcised comes back to bite you further down the line…”

    You were referring to your experience with the host family, but it is relevant to your experience with your family of origin- it will “bite you further down the line.” It will in Asia, it will bite you everywhere you go. It will bite you whatever it is you do and with whomever you will be with.

    Unless you heal.

    In a more recent thread where it occurred to you that there is nothing wrong with you, you wrote: “I have accepted the fact I am never going to reason with my family at all. They are never going to take me seriously. Trying to get them to see how hurtful their behaviour is, this is an exercise in futility. We are never going to have a close relationship – this hurts but I accept it. I won’t be able to mourn and heal until I remove myself from them.”

    You wrote it yourself: “I won’t be able to mourn and heal until I remove myself from them.”

    There is the Answer. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do. What you need, if I may be so bold to suggest that I know it, is to FEEL confident, to feel OKAY, to feel, on an ongoing basis, that there is, indeed, nothing wrong with you. The place where you feel these things, believe these things, happens between your ears.

    The aim is this: healing, being you. Being who you were deprived of being because you were hurt and mistreated by your family of origin. If going to Asia means you are likely to end up needing your family to bail you out and back to living with them, then Asia is not a good idea. The good idea can be as simple as living elsewhere in the UK, doing any kind of work, as long as you are no longer interacting with your family members at all, at least until you heal a whole lot away from them.

    Like your illustrated characters that seem Waiting (so they seem to me)- stop waiting for your family to okay you. Go all the way to really, really no longer waiting. Release yourself from what they caused you to become (insecure, scared…) and become who you were from the beginning: absolutely Okay, acceptable, loving, lovable, curious, adventurous.

    anita

    #110158
    Joe
    Participant

    Anita

    Regarding teaching – my main goal was to teach adults. Sure, teaching kids was initially daunting at first but the main thing is I am capable of teaching. I wanted to teach to push and challenge myself. I may have came across as having not enjoyed it – I guess sometimes I focus and put more emphasis on the bad things because that’s just who I am. The last teaching experience did have its moments but I was in a really bad place when I wrote my first forum post, I was extremely bitter and I will only ever remember the negative things. Teaching may not be my number one passion but the point is I am capable of it and I feel like I need to pursue teaching because there is more job stability in teaching than in freelance illustration. I need to do what I can to get by. I got used to the students and they got used to me, and it just seemed draining and overwhelming for me because it was the first time I had done something like that.

    The first time I worked abroad was one of the most exciting times in my life – being away from everybody, learning more about myself and my capabilities, seeing the world – this is what attracts me the most for travel and I haven’t been able to shake it from my mind. When I wrote that first post, I was in a state of “what the bloody hell was i thinking?” I wasn’t in the best state of mind. I hated everything. I lost all enthusiasm for everything. When the s**t hits the proverbial fan, that forces you to re-evaluate everything.

    Maybe I do romanticize the whole idea of wanderlust and running away from a dull life to seek a life of adventure. Almost like I want to be the hero of my own story to go on a quest to overcome whatever it is I need to overcome and return victorious. Wanting to feel like Arthur when he prizes Excalibur from the stone… James when he escapes from his horrible aunts and jumps aboard the giant peach…Jack as he climbs the beanstalk to get one over on the tyrannical giant…Harry as he is taken from his cupboard underneath the stairs and sent to Hogwarts…Leaving behind less than desirable circumstances to go somewhere better…

    I was in a bitter, twisted, dark place when I wrote that post and I didn’t know what I was going to do to get out of the mud but I think I am in a much better place now, emotionally – I am taking action, making plans.

    I am going to do the intetview but I think I will have to let this one go – I know there is the chance of me not being successful. It doesn’t seem viable now. I feel wise now to make this rational decision – if this was the 2014 version of me I would have dived head first into this without stopping to think about the consequences or research the school. If I am presented with another opportunity and I have the means to carry out my plans, I will take it.

    What must you think of me with all my mad rambling…!

    Joe

    #110197
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    I read some of your latest post and would like to read it tomorrow when I am not as tired as I am now and reply more then. I read the part about teaching. As I type this it is morning in the UK and you are about to have your skype interview. Hope you are as calm as can be, prepared to answer predictable questions (did you prepare, practice answering before the interview?) Hope you prepared questions to ask them. Please post about how the interview went.

    My best wishes to you!

    anita

    #110222
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    I read your whole last post. I like: ” I am capable of it (teaching)”- I like you feeling capable.
    “and I feel like I need to pursue teaching because there is more job stability in teaching than in freelance illustration.”- makes sense.

    So having read your last post, you decided to not take on the China deal. I think it is a good choice: too many variables there… and the wearing of a mask (would be a deal breaker for me). So teaching, yes, adults (no behavioral problems on the part of the students) or kids. Yes, teaching- teaching art/ English/ other?

    You wrote that you were in a bad, bitter place a year ago when you wrote your first post, but you were still YOU and there is a lot to learn from all your writings on this website, integrate all.

    I still think separating from your family is a good, good … good idea.

    You wrote: “Almost like I want to be the hero of my own story to go on a quest to overcome whatever it is I need to overcome and return victorious.” And you listed stories to illustrate the quest. I know one that influenced me a whole lot, and it was the quest of Atreyu, the child warrior in the 1984 movie The Never Ending Story. Did you watch it (and not the horrendous sequel)? This seems so fitting to you, from my viewpoint, having watched the movie. You make like to watch it for your artistic interest alone. Not a big budget film but … if you didn’t watch it, will you? Please do and let me know?

    anita

    #110226
    Joe
    Participant

    Anita

    I have heard great things about that film but I am ashamed to admit I haven’t seen it yet. I will look out for it.

    The interview went well and the recruiter seems to think I have the qualities needed for the job, and insistent that the visa is arranged before arrival (and not after) but I am still getting mixed feelings about this so I think it’s for the best. I will look for somewhere closer. No host families.

    Thankyou Anita

    Joe

    #110233
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Joe:

    You are welcome. Good: learning from your own experience with a host family. This is why I suggested re-reading your own posts sometime, taking notes. Regarding your experience then: I can very much relate to not wanting to talk to the family after a long, hard day with screaming kids (I was a teacher/ substitute)- this would be like a second job for me. I would need time alone to rest and regroup after a challenging teaching (or trying-to-teach, as it was for me) job.

    anita

    #110313
    Matty
    Participant

    @joe,

    Sorry for the late reply,
    I think you have the right idea, try to aim for the place the former employer with a good review worked at. From an educational perspective, if it’s a franchise, that wouldn’t make any difference, because the people across the board will be different. As for credibility, it’s hard to say. It shows that they have a successful business model, but this doesn’t indicate whether the working conditions are fair. Honestly, it will come down to your gut feeling. I personally haven’t taught overseas, I wish I had so that i could give you more relevant information.

    I hope all goes well, and the best of luck,
    MAtty

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