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Northridge School (Santa Fe/Cajimalpa)
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jserio



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:36 pm    Post subject: Northridge School (Santa Fe/Cajimalpa) Reply with quote

I recently walked-away from my position at Northridge School Mexico (NSM) based on my poor experience there.

First off, the school seems nice. They are embracing new technology (iPads, SmartBoards, media creation, etc). The teachers seemed friendly on the exterior but it soon became clear that they won't go that extra mile for you. For example, I asked a few people if they could help me get a sim card for my phone. Even when they said yes, they never followed through. I went 1.5 weeks without a sim and when I did get one, it was from another member here. For a school that praises teamwork, it seems that it's "every man for themselves."

I arrived on Saturday, August 4 and was picked-up at the airport by the English coordinator. I was placed in a hotel in Santa Fe with a few other new teachers. I learned that there were 9 new teachers this year. High turnover?? On Monday, we were informed that they would help us find some housing and were moved to the Raddison hotel in downtown Mexico City. For the first week, we still did not find housing - the orientation was so busy we had no time to look. It was Thursday of that week that three of us were shown a house in Cajimalpa. The price was $14K and the school would pay half. I have since learned (here on Dave's and from other teachers at NSM) that the school "inflates" this rent so that their share of the housing stipend is much less (or zero in some cases).

The second week we checked-out of the hotel and were on retreat in Toshi. We were told someone at the school would be looking for apartments and emailing photos to us in Toshi but this never happened. When we returned home Wednesday, there was still no housing available. We checked back into the Raddison. On Thursday, I was shown 3 places in Cajimalpa - all unfurnished 2-bedroom apartments. The rents ranged from 10-11K. It was implied I would be rooming with a new teacher arriving on Saturday. The other teachers I arrived to Mexico with were all looking to live alone. Thursday night I received a call from the school forcing me to pick a place to rent as they wanted to sign the contract and hopefully buy furniture. I told them if I had no choice it would be "apartment 1." Friday was meet the parents day. We checked out of the hotel and brought our luggage to school. There were two of us left looking for places. At 3PM I asked my coordinator where I was living that night and he said "Um, in your apartment?" and I asked if there was a key and electricity to which he replied "that's not my area. You may need to sleep on the floor." Essentially I was blown off. I hitched a ride to the city with another teacher with plans to stay at a hostel and fly out of Mexico. The coordinator called the other teacher and we spoke on the phone. He convinced me to stay in a hotel over the weekend while they find furniture. I stayed Friday night but left on Saturday.

Essentially, the school had 2 weeks to find housing for the new teachers and they dropped the ball. Living in 3 different hotels and dragging luggage around on several occasions is not conducive to work. I had no time for lessons planning and no time to settle-in.

While the school seems nice, I think that teacher there are treated like numbers and I was not patient enough to give them even more time to right their wrongs. If they offer housing assistance, they should have a few rooms/apartments available before teacher arrive then let the teachers live there until they have time to find a place on their own.

Thanks for reading.
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Phil_K



Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 1820
Location: A World of my Own

PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear about your experience, I guess that's why we didn't see you at the meet-up on Saturday! What now?
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jserio



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would have love to come to the meet-up but I was fed up. The last hotel I stayed at on Friday (the El Diplomatico) charged me for wi-fi but it continued to turn-off. That was the straw the broke the camel's back and I decided to book my airfare out of Mexico.

I am sure there are some great schools out there that go out of there way. And, as I sad in my previous post, I think Northridge is a great school. But when you hear that they are hiring 9 new teachers that makes me question the turn-over. And when I am told I would have housing I don't expect it to be the day school begins.

I'm back in the US contemplating a trip back to Eastern Europe. I'll give Mexico another try in a few years. Just not with Global ERS!

Jim
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1117
Location: 17°48'N 97°46'W

PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

9 Teachers out of how many total teachers?
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jserio



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MotherF wrote:
9 Teachers out of how many total teachers?


Good question Mother and I understand your point. There were only 5 returning ENGLISH teachers. One of them left after the first day or orientation (he was only at the school for a few weeks the end of last school year). Another one moved to coaching instead of teaching. So that leaves only 3 returning English teachers and 2 of them started last January so they weren't there a full year. The school introduced 7th grade this year and, as far as I know, only 2 new teachers were dedicated to 7th grade. I was going to teach geography in 7th but my homeroom would have been 5th. So, in reality there were 7 new English teachers to replace those who left (also one was upgraded to dept head so 6). I'll let you decide if that is normal for Mexico.
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tideout



Joined: 05 Feb 2011
Posts: 180

PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my experience, limited though it may be, I found Mexico to be a long term project. I worked in southern Mx. for 10 months for 2 different places (some overlap) neither really offering either stability or sufficient hours.

Some of the dysfunction you experienced sounds a bit "normal" but we all have a breaking point right?

I'd almost say you have to stay working it out in Mexico for a year to get the kinks worked out - affordable place, decent hours, trustworthy work place etc...

Wouldn't mind hearing other thoughts on it though as I'm more or less planning to come back in a couple of months.
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amaranto



Joined: 02 Jun 2009
Posts: 133
Location: México, D.F.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'd almost say you have to stay working it out in Mexico for a year to get the kinks worked out - affordable place, decent hours, trustworthy work place etc...


Agreed, and to start to get a handle on what is and is not to be expected here. Just to get a start, I emphasize, because after four years, I'm still surprised from time to time and have to tell myself to calm down and that everything will be okay Laughing
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1117
Location: 17°48'N 97°46'W

PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree as well.

I also think--go into it expecting nothing more from the school than to be shown your class room. If you want the school to arrange the housing, buy furniture, get your visa, line up a doctor if your sick--don't come to Mexico. Mexico is a DIY place for foriegn English teachers.
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jserio



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MotherF wrote:
I agree as well.

I also think--go into it expecting nothing more from the school than to be shown your class room. If you want the school to arrange the housing, buy furniture, get your visa, line up a doctor if your sick--don't come to Mexico. Mexico is a DIY place for foriegn English teachers.


When the above items are stated both in the offer letter and several email exchanges, then you bet I'll go in expecting it. To be honest, I wasn't expecting as much as some other new teachers there who were constantly upset at the delay. Every day I had to listen to these people complain that the school should be doing more for them. In the end, they had lower expectations for their living conditions whereas I expected a bit more and that's why I bailed. I don't flip-flop like some (for example, one guy was changing his mind daily based on wind direction).
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tideout



Joined: 05 Feb 2011
Posts: 180

PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jserio wrote:
MotherF wrote:
I agree as well.

I also think--go into it expecting nothing more from the school than to be shown your class room. If you want the school to arrange the housing, buy furniture, get your visa, line up a doctor if your sick--don't come to Mexico. Mexico is a DIY place for foriegn English teachers.


When the above items are stated both in the offer letter and several email exchanges, then you bet I'll go in expecting it. To be honest, I wasn't expecting as much as some other new teachers there who were constantly upset at the delay. Every day I had to listen to these people complain that the school should be doing more for them. In the end, they had lower expectations for their living conditions whereas I expected a bit more and that's why I bailed. I don't flip-flop like some (for example, one guy was changing his mind daily based on wind direction).


I hear you - when it's stated or implied you tend to get "setup" for something that didn't work out. My reason for bailing on Latin America in general was related to feeling pretty screwed or at least doomed throughout. Like an idiot I'm considering another go at it.

It appeared to me that the happiest people in Mexico were either retired and didn't have to struggle financially or had been refining life there for 4-20 years. Needless to say, that ain't in the contract and no one knows until you pass that rather vague mark.

Your first year you are a mere pawn in the court of Quetzalcoatl.

On a related note though - I think "problems" vary by region and city. Oaxaca, for example is notoriously bad for immigration issues.....you had the school deal but it's not uncommon to fight immi in Oaxaca for your first 6-12 months. In D. F., I understand it's a mere issue of finding the right person at their desk.....
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1117
Location: 17°48'N 97°46'W

PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tideout--immigration has been pretty smooth in Oaxaca for the last several years now. Not fun or anything. Razz But nothing like before.
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RoscoeTX



Joined: 06 Jul 2012
Posts: 56
Location: Moscow, Russia

PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:22 am    Post subject: Mind Changer here...living the good life in good ol' Mexico Reply with quote

Hola from the "constant mind changer"...The day this particular poser, I mean poster abandoned his position the weekend before school started. I was kindly driven around town by the new school director in search of an apartment as promised. He feed me dinner and dessert at a nearby ice cream shop and upon arriving at a well furnished and nicely located area of Mexico City, he and I spoke with the landlady and after I decided to take the place, he paid out of his pocket the first months rent which was all that was required by the landlady.

Not only that, the director now has offered to let me ride with him in the mornings to work regularly if I want since the school is located such a distance away.

Sure, in the beginning I was hesitant and wary of the situation, but I remained persistent and all turned out for the best.

I can say that the teachers at this particular school are open and extremely friendly. And things are now really looking up....

Guess some people just can't hack living in Mexico....oh well!
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tideout



Joined: 05 Feb 2011
Posts: 180

PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MotherF wrote:
Tideout--immigration has been pretty smooth in Oaxaca for the last several years now. Not fun or anything. Razz But nothing like before.


Wow, Oaxaca's modernizing!! Glad to hear it - hopefully it means there's some stability in the area now..... Smile
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amaranto



Joined: 02 Jun 2009
Posts: 133
Location: México, D.F.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Sure, in the beginning I was hesitant and wary of the situation, but I remained persistent and all turned out for the best.


This just might be the key to surviving here. It usually works out, and everyone who lives here expects it to go this way.
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reddevil79



Joined: 19 Jul 2004
Posts: 201
Location: Up in them Mixteca Mountains

PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don’t think jserio was unreasonable here in leaving the school and the contract; heck, checking into/out of three hotels in two weeks would test anyone’s patience, why didn’t they just keep you in the same hotel? Now, as someone who has lived in Mexico for a good few years, if I’d bumped into you in the street and you’d told me your woes, I probably would have said something like “yeah, it’s crappy at the moment and it doesn’t surprise me one jot, but try to ride this out and it’ll get better, it’ll be worth it.”

I think quite a few people who have lived and worked in Mexico for a period of time just forget what it is like arriving in an alien culture (I’ve seen it first hand myself). If I was going to somewhere I’d never been before, didn’t know the language or culture, then the offer of housing assistance would be very attractive to me and I would expect it upon arrival. As for Mexico, having lived here all these years, I know that what’s advertised on the net is not always delivered upon arrival (rarely dare I say?) I’ve been through it myself, a lot of us on this board have, which is why we’re able to dispense these pearls of wisdom we’ve built up over the years.

If institutions are promising assistance and benefits which are then not delivered once the teacher has arrived, then they should not be surprised if they then leave before the contract’s up. As for the other teachers not helping you, it may well be that with a high turnover, they don’t see much point in offering their help if the teacher is off after one semester. Just a thought.
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