Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Re-Patriation Chronicles, Part 4: English Teacher B

Same guy as in the last interview, yeah, and now he fills us in on returning to the US after a TEFL sojourn. 

How long did you work abroad, and where?  

I worked abroad on two separate occasions in Ecuador for about 3 years over the course of the 6 years that I was either living or traveling there. 

What made you decide to return to your home country? 

I was dating a local girl for a while, and went for the marriage combo, We got married knowing we had a kid on the way. Our son was born down there towards the end of my second year at the high school. My wife, only had a high school degree and no career, so I knew she wouldn't bring in any money there. I also knew that if we were going to move, it needed  to be before he was 1 because it was going to be very difficult after that. I had also realized in the 3 years working there/6 years living there I was not going to be moving up at my high school anytime soon unless someone died or won the lottery. Since I am anxious and do not like to stay in a place with no real prospects of moving up, we moved back to the states. I got my last month's and a bonus month salary which was nice. 

What were your experiences trying to get a job when you returned? 

It was a mixed bag really. I had a lot of people around me that told me to move on from teaching and that I would make more money in business. I found an ESL job fast at a chain school in NYC, but I hated the 30 students in a closet with an attitude and quit quick to go into a business venture with some of my wife's family. 

After I figured out that was going no where, I got a job as a receptionist/security at one of the big banks near the World Trade Center and worked on getting my credentials in order to teach in the NYC public schools. I taught high schoolers in Brooklyn Spanish for a year. 1/4 to 1/2 of them had a level of spoken Spanish or had family who spoke Spanish, so it was an interesting experience. I also had some classes with 40 kids in them even though we were only supposed to have a 34 max. My school reduced in size so I lost that position because they could only keep one Spanish teacher. Last hired first fired (or as they call it excessed), 

I took a position at a middle school briefly, and I then I moved back into ESL and Spanish teaching for adults. After that, I came up with the philosophy that I could teach anywhere anytime with the right environment. 

What did you like and not like about your home country upon returning?  

I would say it was one of the hardest experiences of my life. I had not planned on getting married again ( I was/am on wife #2). I had also planned to stay in Ecuador longer (I really wanted to move to the coast from the high lands) or move to Korea. I had a friend from Ireland who taught with me the first year at the high school who told me Korea was way better than all the BS in Ecuador we put up with and left. I had not had any plans of coming back to the states, let alone married with a kid. 

Since I really didn't want to be back, everything was difficult in the beginning. I had to get used to giving people more space in elevators and escalators (even in New York) and the attitude of the people sucked. They all acted like you should know stuff that they knew even though you were not from there so there is no way you could know it. I did not like the hustle and bustle of the city. I got out of my exercise routine and began putting on weight. 

I also found it difficult to get out of town for the weekend (I still find it difficult). In Ecuador I could go visit friends or in-laws for 20 bucks for the round trip bus ticket per person and maybe cook them a 10 dollar meal. If I did not have money, it was cool too, In NYC it was 100 dollars roundtrip just to get out to long Island or Connecticut for the weekend. Then once you got there, you were pretty much stuck inside for the whole weekend to watch TV or play video games. No real fun and open spaces. I missed being able to be at the beach and swim  in the ocean after an overnight bus ride or being able to go for the weekend to my wife's town in the Amazon region where I could walk or run in the country. There were also a lot of cheap touristy things you good do right outside of the city in Ecuador that just were not there for cheap in NYC. In short it sucked in a major way. 

Needless to say, after I moved back to teaching adults, we moved back to the Midwest where I am from. I have found while I have been able to improve my professional situation slowly and my wife and son are happy here, I still have mixed feelings about living in the same place where I grew up. I had originally moved away to explore the world and get away and am now back to square one (really its like 1.5 since it is the same place but I'm different). 

On the positive note, I am able to own a house, have two cars, and buy crap I do not need like every other American. The quality and variety of the food is better and eating out at semi-quality places is much cheaper. These are all things I would not be able to do in Ecuador. I would be living in a crappy apartment in the city, taking the bus everywhere, and finding luxury in buying a used cell phone when mine died or happiness in buying pirated CDs and DVDs. 

What did your wife think about America?

My wife was okay with New York and was happy to be in the states when we first moved to the states. When we moved to the Midwest, she loved/loves this area. With the nice people here, the space, and the opportunities that we have she is right at home. She prefers living here to back in Ecuador. Even though she loves Ecuador, she knows that it is a hard place to sustain a good and comfortable lifestyle. 

What are your plans for the future?  

The future is hard to say. I moved into administration about 4 years ago and am working on my doctorate in education, so I know that I have a student loan bubble above me that I would love to solve in a flash. There is a part of me that is dying to go to Saudi, China, Korea, or Japan in order to move up into a better administrative position and pay off the bills quickly.

However, that is difficult to want to do because I know that I might not be able to take my son with and I still have a couple of good years left before he becomes a non-human teenager that just hates my guts. The other thing I know is that it has been so hard to work up into a stable job that I liked after getting back stateside (5 years to get a quality full-time job, and 7 to get a job that had decent conditions and a future. All the adult and higher ed positions paid decently but were all part-time based off enrollment), so I do not want to lose the progress that I have made here. 

However, if I can time it so I move up into a Department Chair or Dean position abroad which pays well and leads to me being able to return to the states in 5 years and take that same position at a university, I would do it in a heartbeat.. If I do not go that route, I will probably wait for about another 10 years when my son goes to college and then move abroad again into a position in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, or China.

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Tune back in 3 days from now, when ETX celebrates the 20th anniversary of his first teaching position ... with an epic fail and a continued slide into alienation and decrepitude. 

Coming soon!  

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