Working to Live, I gave in and am Teaching English
Trip Start Dec 10, 2011
60Trip End Sep 29, 2012
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Where I stayed
I realise I have a bunch of skills I could use without re-training and why not put those to good use again, that is do a temporary IT contract, or even better find a remote working arrangement that I could even fund my travels when I pick up my travel plans again.
The thought of being in an office, sat in front of a PC for 8 hours a day full-time, scares the 'bejesus' out of me. Bejesus is a word commonly used to express great surprise or fear, according to the wonderful descriptions listed on Urban Dictionary http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bejesus. Totally self-indulgent, but I love the definitions of ‘Charlotte’, yes I looked my name up, it said so near the search box so I thought why not and no I wouldn’t jump off a cliff if someone told me too! http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=charlotte
So back to working ‘9 to 5’, how can I do that again? … Maybe that is the key. I don’t. I find work that I can do for less hours or not in the constraints of an office, so at lunchtime if I want to walk on the beach or go swimming I could, which would be harder if I am one of those short lunch breaks eating a non-appetising sandwich. Sorry, but we all know UK typical lunches suck.
I also asked myself how much I have spent over 9 months traveling so therefore how much do I need if I travelled for the same amount of time. Well after some number-crunching I worked out that out of the money I spent almost 40% of it went on flights, now only if I had a US social security number I could apply for many of the USA credit card practically giving away free world flights via their bonus air miles offered when signing up for the card.
I spent that much because one I thought it would be cheaper in the long run paying up front for a round the world ticket. Mistake on my part. Now I will only buy one flight and that’s the one way out of the UK, the rest will be bought when I decide when and where I’m going.
I have also learnt that if I am in a state of flux, not deciding what or where to go like I did during this trip, I won’t just go book flights, with only 3 weeks later then cancelling and re-booking paying admin fees to change them, doh! For those not in the know I earlier had a flight booked on the 11th July to come to the UK, but the allure of Medellin, Colombia and volunteering kept me here.
Oh isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing. Other traveller friends told me all this advice, but at the time I was so still in an emotional rollercoaster of getting my ‘divorce’ from my job (I always refer to it as my marriage, that I was married to my job. It was 8 years after all).
So anyway I will need less money this time, thanks to what I’ve learnt and maybe I need to work no more than two months to earn a good amount of money. Only problem is am I going to find something or someone who has a short-term IT contract for that length? Maybe, maybe not. Otherwise I do have experience stacking shelves in Sainsbury’s supermarket that was my first job in fact!
I realised now that money is just a means to an end, I need some to replenish my bank overdraft and to save again to go traveling, I also have a bunch of stuff in storage and need to decide what to do with it… sell it all and downsize or continue paying for storage? Material possessions are just those, before I would be sad to sell my stuff, now it doesn’t matter and I feel it is less important. It is amazing what you can live with or survive on for 9 months traveling, living out of one bag is refreshing and I still think I have too much. Although a lot less than what I started out with.
So this all leads me to what I'm doing right now, yep I started teaching English at a private academy. Money is fairly low per hour, but I don't care it's money. I needed it. I worked out by working 12 hours a week at the school, having fun with my groups and being able to walk there from where I lived in the city. I would earn enough money to pay what my rent cost that month, so breaking even or not have any outgoings except for having fun.
By working less hours I'm able to keep having fun dancing, socialising, writing, swimming and having some time to do my passion volunteering at the Angeles de Medellin foundation. A friend of mine who’s an English teacher put me in touch with a contact of hers, all the time I kept procrastinating about what to do. I had an offer from another children's foundation to work in the coffee region, expenses paid it was attractive, maybe leave Medellin, or go to another country. My friend patiently waited until I had made a decision and again said really Charlotte, what about teaching English, you need to earn money. I was like yeah but I don’t want to teach English it’s not my thing. A lot of teaching is more about personality, enthusiasm and my ability to get on with people, making them comfortable.
Well it seems I did have the skills for the job!, when not having any qualification or experience in teaching or teaching English. I did a little of this at the foundation but if anything that was harder as it was just with a board and a marker, no resources. The language academy I work at has great resources, including an interactive whiteboard with a CD-ROM that accompanies the book each student has. It’s been a pleasure so far to go to work, have fun, making fun of differences between British and American English and oh receiving my first pay packet, be it enough to cover two days of expenses here, made me very happy indeed.
So many people had been telling me teach English, do private conversational classes and I kept saying oh I don’t want to do that. It’s funny how people’s advice is almost always right. I now realise that it is amazing what you will do when faced with a harsh of reality of running out of money, when you are half way across the world. I got out of my comfort zone to earn money, I also can see now that if I want to get some quick cash when I continue traveling, teaching English is a pretty good backup to have indeed.
I also see how I can compartmentalise portions of time, to do different things, spend time on my passions and maybe through this or doing things I don’t like to do but have to i.e. earning money will lead me to my future passion or job,
I need to do a job I love. A bit like in ‘Groundhog Day’, he spends his repeated day and hours in desperation wondering what to do and bored, then realising he can do positive things with that time; helping others, learning new skills and in the end all of these things lead him to getting the girl and enjoying a ‘happy ever after’. Now my story isn’t quite the same but you get the point. Trying out new things and experiences will open your eyes and I have learnt many things I’ve mentioned before through my time traveling.
Now I was not sure when I started out my journey when exactly I would work out what I want to do next.
I am still not sure. That light bulb moment has not come yet. I know what I don’t want to do which is a good start and I know I am not quite done yet traveling around the world. That’s why I’ve setup a website to advertise my talents in the hope I find work this way or am contacted by people who have suggestions, you can view my site here: www.mycupofchar.com (it is still work in progress).
With just three weeks till I land in the UK, I hope it all works out. I have spent 50% or about 4 months of my time, helping others through volunteering. A very rewarding experience for me, but now it is time for me to ask for help and spend a bit of time on me.
Get in touch if you can help me earn some cash or I always love to receive comments of encouragement!