Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure

I know I said I'd write about Bangkok in this entry, and I've written like 5000 words on the subject, just need to get a few more pictures before I post some stuff. It'll probably be two or three entries.

So instead, since I've gotten such interesting and comprehensive advice regarding my current plight of joblessness, I'm going to do something different.

I'm aware there's a blogger who lets his readers vote on his next destination -- I'm going to let my readers vote on the remaining course of my life.

It'll kind of be like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure novels from when I was a kid.

Let's vote:

1) X goes back to America and gets a master's degree from a brick-and-mortar university in his home state, and prays that TEFL doesn't become fully automated before he finishes it.

2) X goes to Universidad de Alcala in Spain to do the TEFL Master's there, as it's cheaper and would surely be a better place to live, and prays that somebody acccepts a TEFL master's from Spain.

3) X takes another year off to write porn and a couple more ETX e-books, hoping that terrorist attacks in the Middle East cull out the surplus of teachers.

4) X does the China thing, getting a position (hopefully one in which he doesn't have to work much) at a university in China and also realizes a lifelong bucketlist goal of studying Kungfu at a Shaolin temple.

5) X just goes and studies at a shaolin kungfu school for a year

6) X buys a Harley-Davidson and becomes a bounty hunter, roaming the badlands of the Southwestern United States fighting crime.

7) X just becomes a crazy old guy, retiring and trying to survive off the money he has saved, in some cheap destination like Costa Rica or Thailand.

8) X goes back to Russia and gets married, getting a crap chain language school job, and spending a lot of time complaining about how the CIA created the situation in the Ukraine.

9) X gets an online master's degree from a school that has a physical campus, and hopes that he can successfully lie that it was done in "real life" if asked.

10) X devotes himself full-time to producing a podcast entitled "Excellence in Failure" in which he interviews and explores people who have failed massively at something.

Vote now!


Jug Jugette said...

Number seven all the way; life's too short. But read The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart if you haven't already.

Anonymous said...

#1 and #2 are your only realistic options. You could always study in England. £4000 will get you an MA and your DELTA will trim 2 modules off the course. You could finish it in 8 months.

TBH work experience in China is actually becoming a big big negative on your CV. Ten years ago woo it was oh so exotic and ballsy to do. However the multitude of shit heads who went out to China to exploit the situation has given Chinese work experience a very very bad name. Employers are getting wise to the fact that it is often glorified tape recorder and not real teaching. You can see it on job adverts sometimes about how they describe what the work experience needs to be.

Also I remember your 2nd time in the sandbox. You might encounter similar shitty students as per:

But not get paid piles of money for it. For 20s TEFLers who want to take a gap year it's ok but for anybody older it most definitely is not!

TB said...

I think #3 will happen as the Middle East remains a shitshow and the economy hopefully improves more.

You could totally combine #7 with #3 though, just wait for the ME to improve well you bum around on a beach somewhere.

Chris said...

I like the take a year off option, as it will allow you to gain clarity on what could be an expensive (time and/or money) decision.

I don't see you lining China much more than S. Korea, but I could be wrong.

If you opt for an online degree, completing one through a Brick and Mortar University is the only option that makes sense in my opinion.

Best of luck. Having options is one of those good problems.

Some Guy in Spain said...

As someone almost finishing #2 (although mine is NOT the Masters in TEFL but a more generic Teaching degree), I can't see it worse although I've long since realized that Europe is not my speed. Would rather speed along on a motorbike.

Nice to have trains though.

I'm tempted to give #5 a go myself if only to not go #7

I vote #10

Anonymous said...

Guy in the world - I vote for 1. Two would be awesome, but it's not going to have the weight of an American degree. Dig in for a year, have fun being the experienced world traveler that the mid-twenties to 30s girls adore that are your classmates, and then you can pick your spot to go afterwards.

englishteacherx said...

Well, as far as taking a year off, remember that I've taken a year off already, and clarity had come only through the realization that I'm rapidly running out of options and the cold darkness of the grave reaches out for me.

englishteacherx said...

I read The Dice Man years ago during my first job in Bangkok, coincidentally enough. How we loved that in the office.

englishteacherx said...

And I'm curious as to which employers you think wouldn't like China experience. Are you talking about international schools in other countries? Because I can't imagine why the Middle East, whose students are just as bad and far less polite, should care that much.

Anonymous said...

International schools will want work experience at accredited institutions with a curriculum, regular formative assessment and external awarding bodies. The majority of schools and universities in China are NOT this.

Have a look around some job adverts over time they've become more specific about what they count as work experience.

Chinese work experience is also hard to verify due to the language differences so while individuals can claim all sorts of things on the CV. This may well be a work of fiction.

Anonymous said...

#6 is obviously the only choice. Clearly bounty hunting is a much more stable career than TEFL. However, I'd recommend you prowl the Southwest in an RV rather than a motorcycle; it's just safer. Just watch out for corrupt federal agents named Dutch.

tw boy said...

Number 2, Spain is great, awesome beer and food, and quite cheap as long as you don't go overboard.

englishteacherx said...

Yeah, I was leaning in that direction, but numerous folks have told me it would be very iffy as far as later getting a job in the Middle EAst is concerned. Not disqualifying, but very iffy.

Ken said...

Option #1 is the only realistic option. I had a look at that website and it appears to be a notch better than your old angelfire website (it looks dodgy as hell even though it may well be legitimate)

All of the others have the potential to bite you in the arse sometime in the future.

Re-read your last post. You said it yourself the fly by nighters are increasingly getting fucked over as countries introduce more stringent checks.

So sure those Khao San road certificate types with their fakes it worked for a while but the longer term individuals had to get real ones. The real cert holders prevailed the iffy certificate holders were sent home or had to take the even shittier gigs.

Or some dickwad does something bad which puts all sorts of additional scrutiny on the not so legit individuals.

BTW I was a tour guide for a year doing adventure touring on a motorbike. It completely ruined my joints bumping along graded gravel Kazakh and Russian roads in Siberia. I'm mid 30s it hurts to walk so I wouldn't recommend anything long term motorbike.

While becoming the old grizzled expat living off a pile of money... inflation will fuck you over quite rapidly, much like it did to Vodkaberg teachers and everybody else.

Anonymous said...

You should firstly take a modified version of

8) Go to Russia and finally, once and for all, settle the deal with your Girlfriend, and while doing it take some months in a crappy job in Vodkaberg or continue your studies.

If you truly are an incorrigible vanderer, than you should ultimately let her go. But if you do see the two of you in a big picture, then making a few of ETX Juniors is surely a sensible decision; after all, she doesn't seem like those easy bar girls you had fun with years ago. When you're done with this modified 8), your final decision will easily fall into place.

Yet I think your 'indecisiveness' is more of a (futile) rebellion against settling down, even though you have a proper candidate. It's sth every man is afraid of, and you're not alone in this matter.

In any case, Godspeed!

Anonymous said...

How much is option 1 going to cost you? 30-40k? Maybe more?

englishteacherx said...

I could do it at the state university for about $18,000 base price, but I imagine I could get an assistantship or somthing to defray the price further, and maybe some kind of scholarship. Believe it or not my undergraduate grades were pretty good. 3.6.

englishteacherx said...

And it's not getting married that frightens me, it's going to Russia. It seems like just a fucking hellish place to live to me now. Although I guess it's rather cheaper now, at least, with the currency devaluation.

Anonymous said...

4, 7, 9

I know a couple of guys who did the Shaolin thing. They loved it. If you do take the red-brick road, I'd suggest a very stable public uni job with the lightest possible teaching load, an actual (legal) working visa, AND off-campus accommodation. You can always add hours by tutoring / etc; work is beyond plentiful.

There are many Russian ladies hovering around the big cities in the late night hours. Club scene is very active. I'd consider a place like Harbin, Dalian, or Qingdao. You can find kung-fu masters everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Ratz had served him without the slightest glimmer of recognition.
"Hey," he'd said, "it's me. Case."
The old eyes regarding him out of their dark webs of wrinkled flesh. "Ah," Ratz had said, at last, "the artiste." The
bartender shrugged.
"1 came back."
The man shook his massive, stubbled head. "Night City is
not a place one returns to, artiste," he said.

Similarly Russia is not a place on returns to.

englishteacherx said...

Word! Alas the only thing that keeps me immediately rushing to the Shaolin school is my advancing years. I'll be 46 in a couple months, and as we all know, hitting 50 in TEFL is about like hitting 30 as a stripper. You start to run out of options REAL fast.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can diversify and maybe teach something other than EFL? EFL is slowly going down the pan wages are stagnant and a good sideways movement is to teach some other subject instead.

I dabbled in 3d animation back when everybody used pirated versions of 3DStudio max 3 and 4. I got EFL stuff then kind of did DTTLS (another route into a proper teaching qualification). I taught for a while and was asked to do some supervisor cover work for an IT lab.

I was observed and they gave me a fractional teaching 3d animation. That was 3 years ago it is nearly a full time job these days.

englishteacherx said...

Yeah, I mean, that occurred to me, but I don't have any background in anything except English. I could get into English lit or some kind of writing, business communication, etc, but that all kind of falls under the TEFL umbrella anyway.

What do you mean by "fractional"?

Anonymous said...

#9: You have an undergrad in English. Why not become a middle or high school English teacher at an international school? That would really open up your options for making decent money in places other than East Asia and the ME. Here's a program that will get you a Master of Ed and a teaching license:

The total cost is about $11,000 when you factor in application fees, books, PRAXIS II, and license application.

There are a few other programs like this that you can find with some time on google.

Anonymous said...

In reference to the post above: Sorry, I forgot to mention that program is entirely online. The only thing you have to leave your house for is to take the Praxis II test at a certified testing center.

Anonymous said...

Alcala's a nice place to spend a year -more relaxed than Madrid, cheap rent and caƱas, generous tapas and lots of teaching work (including university jobs).

Anonymous said...

Fractional as in not a full job.

Typical teaching might be 22hours a week. They might give you a fractional 0.8 and therefore you work 17.6hours a week and your pay is pro-rata down to these hours.

englishteacherx said...

I think it's late to get on the international school track (except perhaps for the Chinese kind) as has been mentioned, they're looking for a different kind of experience and qualifications than i got, and I probably ain't got enough working life left to get the experience and qualifications to get the decent jobs. From what I've heard about them it sounds like a lot of wiping rich kids asses, anyway.

Anonymous said...

A masters from Hometown State University actually sounds like a pretty good idea. I assume you've looked at the requirements to qualify for in-state tuition? If teaching assistantships aren't available, I happen to know that the local community college is usually looking for part-time instructors.


englishteacherx said...

I'm surprised how many of you are voting for the sensible option. I guess my audience has aged with me, I expected more votes for going to some cheap country.

Yeah, since I haven't technically worked anywhere abroad since July of 2014, I could indeed qualify for instate tuition, since that's where my legal residence is and I file my taxes and such there.

englishteacherx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Some Guy in Spain said...

In Vietnam, I worked with loads of guys who were well above 50 doing good work in universities and the like. I dunno how much you liked Saigon (given that you never wrote about it I'm guessing it didn't have the impact on you that it did me).

For what's it worth, I started the TEFL game at age 23 and now coming up to my 7th year, I actually like the job but, having had a suburb outside of Tokyo be my own personal Vodkaberg (without the threesomes, natch), realized that I needed to do some growing up. Your books have also helped me in that, so consider the cautionary tale having fulfilled at least part of its purpose.

Anonymous said...

You'd get different responses if you posted this to a different place. Reddit for instance is filled with early 20s types the /r/china subreddit is filled with illegal teachers who mostly don't give a fuck about their teaching. Your ETX brand attracts individuals like minded individuals like yourself.

Plus once it's done it is done and yours for life. I do however like your optimism about retiring sometime in your 60s. Life spans of the baby boomers are a bit of an anomaly. The comparatively shittier lives of Gen X, Y and millennial types of total insecurity and inability to afford healthcare will reverse the life expectancy trends.

Anonymous said...

18k isn't too bad. Go for it!

And what about teaching esl in the U.S.? Could you get by?

englishteacherx said...

Well, I taught esl in New York in the 90s and survived it but it was hardly what you'd call a luxurious existence.

Chris said...

As far as TEFL goes, from what I know there are very few if any locations that are widely viewed as bad on your resume. To state otherwise is dodgy without specifics. I wouldn't let hunches from commenters guide you. From what I know, you'd be fine with several China years on your resume in the TEFL world.

Don't go Brick and Mortar because you feel that it's too risky not to. Only do it because that is the type of (potentially grueling/mind numbing) experience that you want at this point. The only caveat is that if you are going to do an online degree, mitigate the risk by doing it through a Brick and Mortar University. Your degree will not specify that it was online, and you never have to admit as much. The reality is that the instructional delivery method will rarely be inquired and, moving forward into the era in which online education is more common, it will be increasingly accepted as on par legitimate. I've done a second undergrad BS online and an MS online from Brick and Mortar State Universities. Assuming that you pick your school well enough, you have nothing to worry about.

I think that you are correct in stating that it is too late to go into top tier international school teaching. My information could use updating, but I was once informed that they like to see relevant work experience by 37 years old. Such experience means teaching with a State teaching certificate. Though, I'm not sure that it is too late for second tier type schools, of which there are loads. If that type of teaching environment is where you would like to spend your middle age, then I think that it is completely worth it to go for it. That environment would have you treated better than you otherwise would be outside of the ME, and it should all-around be an easier road going forward.

If you do an online degree through a USA State school, you can do it at the same time that you participate in your Shaolin training.

I don't think that your money will hold out for 'retirement'. That nest egg will go fast. It's better to invest it in a teaching degree or perhaps other methods of assuring cash flow if they are conservative enough.

Chris said...

As an aside, with your experience, it seems like web development would be a no-brainer hobby-to-side gig that you could develop on the cheap and would financially hedge against your ostensibly aging value in the teaching world. What does a low end custom website sell for these days? $600? How many hours does it take you to make that outside the ME? Once you get going, they would probably take no time to do. Learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Photoshop, and use Wordpress. There will be a learning curve, but just go slow and give yourself a few years to get good. There are some great teaching books on amazon these days and good, free courses online. The trickiest element is gaining an 'eye' for what looks good and clean. That only comes from staring at a lot of websites and studying layouts.

englishteacherx said...

As I mentioned in the last entry, if you're trying to get a job in the Middle EAst, you are now required when attesting your degree to have a sealed letter from your registrat stating that you did NOT do your degree online. This is a new rule as of 2013.

As far as webdesign, don't you think that websites like squarespace and wordpress are kind of removing any need for website deigners? I was thinking if I was going to change careers, something like forensic criminology would be much more of a growth industry.

Rgarding early retirement, remember I have about $1000 a month in income from books / dividends in addition to my savings (about $150,000.) There are lots of people in Thailand retired on less than that, but ... no, I don't really want to be one of those crazy old dudes, as mentioned numerous times.

Chris said...

I did read that requirement. However, I think that it is an anomoly and not a world trend. If it does stick in the ME and even spreads to other sandbox countries, I don't think that it will spread much further nor do I think the chances are particularly high for it sticking around for the duration in the ME. Though, those Arabs can be an obstinate bunch - I know. I think that the long-term trend is for the other direction and that, particularly in first world countries and those countries that aspire to be seen as such a country (ie: South Korea), there will be increasing political pressure not to differentiate between programs within Brick and Mortar University offerings given the increasing reliance on online programs for the education of their populaces. That being said, if your goal is to work in the ME immediately then, of course, it is a riskier proposition. Also, I know that my opinions are conjecture albeit I believe moderately well reasoned conjecture.

I don't think that squarespace and wordpress are removing the need for webdesigners at all. In fact, I think and see the opposite. First, squarespace is pretty shitty in my opinion. It looks slick but, upon testing, it isn't as user friendly as it is made to seem and I've noticed website rendering anomolies in browsers that would be deal breakers for anyone that cares how their website looks to the public. The point being that it's difficult to create a legitmately good content management system and especially a website builder. To wit, there are close to zero truly serviceable website builders to date that extend beyond the practicality of temporary or informal uses. Though, I know of one that I can email you about, but it uses a well coded content management system as its base and therefore it can't be said to be a stand-alone product.

I only used Squarespace as an apt example. However, the example holds across the landscape with the only exceptions being well established content management systems like Wordpress and Drupal. Now, the thing is, these are in fact content management systems and not website builders. Despite the fact that millions of people use these platforms, there are orders of magnitude more people for whom the learning curve is much too high. It is a mistake to think that even ostensibly easy systems like Squarespace don't present too high of a hurdle for the majority of the population. The truth is, in my observation, that most people will never get past even basic hurdles like setting up a web host, using an FTTP client, and learning the dashboard of a content management system. Add the arguable necessity to install a databse on their home computer for local design, which is in reality a download and a couple of button pushes, and you are already beyond the will of most individuals of average intelligence. Even if they did get past basic setup hurdles, these systems require coding knowledge to customize even a little bit. Anyone who is running even a small business wbesite will generally need custom coding or at least hand-holding that extends their reach outside of the capability of most templates. Remember, most people will not have the interest or knowledge to source better templates. That's my last point: even the cognitvely capable will often not care to learn what is necessary to get any type of non-blog website off of the ground. Without the nature of the process of website publishing changing in a much more radical way, I don't see the need for web designers decreasing anytime soon. Most people are just too incapable or unwilling to do what is required. Most prospects will much rather pay $600-1000 to have you throw one up than to overcome the learning curve themselves; and it will cost them less time and thus money to do so.

I suppose that part of what I was trying to relay is that I don't think you would have to view web development as a huge change in career commitment - at least at first. You can build it up as a hobby and then as a supplement while you teach or do other things.

Chris said...

Ran out of space - anyway, I'm not trying to push a hard sell. I was just spitballing. Don't worry about how you look to young backpackers. They're "crazy" too. They just look prettier doing it than the older men. Everyone is just living.

Whoobie77 said...

I vote #8. There seems to be a earnest desire in you to not die alone. And I think you could scrape by just about anywhere, no matter how hellish.

Anonymous said...

Why not try South America? You have talked about it a couple times, why not just do that?

Ok, so I am biased but after 2 years in Colombia I have landed a pretty sweet gig that allows me and my husband to live pretty cushy while meanwhile I work less than 20 hours a week. I hope to eventually get that 20 hours down to about 12-15 hours and then hover there as long as possible while making more money than when I was working 20 hours a week. Sounds crazy right? But here I can eat out at any restaurant from $1 all the way up to the fancy food for $30 a plate and not even feel squeamish about it. I have a maid that comes once a week (cause I am a cheap ass like that) and I even have money in savings.

South America can be a real bitch but if you go off the beaten path to Colombia you can find little niche spots where the living is easy easy easy. I will probably never leave here even though I long to live in places like Chile, Brazil (a second time) or Ecuador.
Plus in the "end of the world collapse scenario" there is plenty of food, water and shelter.

Focio said...

#2 since I live in Alcala. If I were you I'd also buy one or two flats to live off the rent money.