Sunday, November 14, 2010

Time to grow up?

As any teacher regardless of level or subject knows, teaching is not an easy job. When a group of English as Foreign Language teachers gather, we often discuss the fact that at some point we might have to get "real" jobs. It's not that the work is easy, dealing with kids is often stressful as are interactions with other teachers, management and parents. I do take the phrase "real job" quite differently when mentioned by another teacher than when brought up by a non-teacher.

I know we work.  We plan lessons, teach said lesson, correct the paperwork, give feedback and the plan it better for the next time. It's not all fun and games, though I use those a lot in my class.  Anyone who has been in my immediate vicinity to hear me lose my voice, or who's read a couple of the blogs here will understand that especially this school, has been anything but easy. That being said, I still feel like it's not a "real" job because I can do much more while working this job than I could with a "regular" job. 
  • While I have to get up at 05:30, I am finished everyday by 1630. I can pick up an extra class in the evening if I so chose.  I can run errands like I will today.  I can go home and go to bed at 8pm since I do get up at a ridiculous hour.
  • Unlike teachers at a "regular" school, like primary in the states, I get loads of paid vacation. I feel entitled to it since I got so little vacation in Spain and rarely got paid vacation.
  • By living in foreign countries I get to travel to other foreign countries, that is time and finances permitting which they often don't.
  • Here's a biggie-I get to teach.  I am not certified in the States but I like teaching. Until I decide about getting my Master's, this is the only way I can do it.
Here is where I come to my dilemma . . . Is it time to "grow up and get a real job?"  It was pointed out to me that I am not contributing to a 401K retirement savings plan, I haven't kicked into Social Security in years (though there's no guarantee it will be there when I'd be due to retire anyway), I don't own property and the expense of flights and setting up a new home every time I move means it's nearly impossible to save.  I still love the moving and all but what happens when I'm 45 and still doing this, alone!

An additional part of the conflict is that my dating life has withered in other countries. Do I need to settle in one place before I meet someone and does that place need to be the US?  Do I want to stop traveling just to meet someone? And if I'm not ready to stop? If I do settle down, when do I want to be?  There are some very cool looking Masters in Teaching with certification around. The Spanish Bilingual elementary education component in cities like Oakland or Denver would be up my alley.

Last year I applied to work for the US government as a Foreign Service officer.  Though I wasn't selected, I did make it to the last step of the process and feel I owe it to myself to try again.  A life in public diplomacy living abroad on someone else's dime would be fantastic, but would it be just as lonely as living/moving the way I have been? Yet I don't want to kick myself later for not attempting it.
Any time we talk about growing up, Peter Pan reflexively comes to my mind.  Is it time to let go of my lost boy fantasy and join the "real world"?


  1. Thanks for this insightful post. I always think that "real world" is the life we choose to live. :) I was a peripatetic teacher too, and people thought it was peri-pathetic. Haha!

  2. You never know where the chosen one will enter your life, nor where... so keep on traveling untill then and after. I dont know where or when to settle down, I thought Spain was my destination but things tend to change. Italy is on our list now, probably we pass England and Sweden some time along the way. Lots of life is yet to be lived and there is a big world out there full of places yet to be seen :)