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Why do we do it?
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RachelA_Broad



Joined: 11 Jul 2003
Posts: 21
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 1:38 pm    Post subject: Why do we do it? Reply with quote

Hey folks,
I've noticed a scary trend on this board to ask only questions that get people's "worst nightmare" stories. (ie: first day of teaching/western style housing) While I really do think it is good to know what you are getting into I find myself hyperventalating over here as I sign up for my CELTA, buy my plane ticket, and justify not just moving to New Mexico to my parents. So here is my question to all the oldies on this board Wink , what would you say are some examples of why you stay in/enjoy this profession?
This morning I was trading "the scariest thing that ever happened to me" stories with a co-worker (in Vermont) and I realized that all of the most heart stopping things that have happened to me in 23 years happened over the course of my 4 months in Kenya...but I had such an amazing time there learning about the people and the cultures, meeting new people and seeing new things that it was all worth it, though I'm sure my co-worker just ended up with a reinforced vision of why he doesn't leave the USA...anyway, just interested in some anticdotes on the flip side.
Thanks!...anything for amunition against parents that want to attach weights to your ankles to make you stay in the area would also be of great help Wink
-Rachel
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Steiner



Joined: 21 Apr 2003
Posts: 573
Location: Hunan China

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess no one oohs and ahhs over stories about being invited to people's homes and being treated really well and fed a good meal. Or about the nice conversations you have with friendly taxi drivers. Or about the respectful, interested students who are really eager to learn what you are there to teach them. Or about how well you can live on so little money. Or about the totally different outlook on life and how that helps us to have a more well-rounded and complete worldview.

Stories about injustices and freaks and near-death experiences are just so much more fun to tell and hear. A good pickpocket story makes everyone say "wow," but to just up and talk about how good our lives are is either too boring or comes across as gloating. Sensationalism sells!

We take the good stuff for granted. After all, surely we deserve any wonderful thing that comes our way, don't we? But heaven forbid if anything bad should happen to us! How dare the universe and those in it treat us with anything less than absolute respect, absolute awe, absolute deference to our desires! We all love to have a place to come and be indignant.

It's always a good idea to have some positive threads going. It reminds us of all the good things we take for granted and why we're here.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12203
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 7:01 pm    Post subject: why do we tefl ? Reply with quote

Welll I do not usually say this but I actually quite like what I do. Especially when I meet up with people who stayed at home and have never experienced the good (and bad) things I have experienced over the years since 1968 when I got inti TEFL.

I mean the guys back home who still do the same things every weeknd, and who never tarvel more than 20 miles from home. Sheech !
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 9:07 pm    Post subject: Why Do People Do It? Reply with quote

There are myriad reasons why people teach TESOL overseas.A few:(I would not presume to cover all of them):
1.The economies in many countries, US,
Canada etc.are not so good.Some people may not actually like to be overseas,but they figure it is better than sitting around unemployed at home.
2.It is almost always possible for ANYBODY to get SOME job in TESOL,SOMEPLACE,even if they have no qualifications.
3.A lot of people think this is better than getting innumerable responses to your job applications back in the US,Canada,etc.telling you something like "We have reviewed your resume and applications,and we are very impressed.However,we have had many well-qualified applicants(yeah,like maybe 150,or even more!!! Rolling Eyes ).We regret to inform you that we cannot offer the job to you,but we will keep your application on file(oh.yeah! Laughing )
4.There are very often tax advantages to working overseas.
5.Some people legitimately like to travel a lot and prefer working overseas.Many people get tired of this after a time,however.

Less savory reasons:
1.Some people are running from something,the law,a marriage or relationship gone sour,etc.
2.Some people are just farting around overseas, rationalizing to themselves that they are "teaching".

Those are just a few reasons...
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Cobra



Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Posts: 436

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some of us have that pioneer spirit looking for adventure.
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SweetOne



Joined: 19 Jul 2003
Posts: 109

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 1:45 am    Post subject: Re: Why do we do it? Reply with quote

[quote="RachelA_Broad"]Hey folks,
I've noticed a scary trend on this board to ask only questions that get people's "worst nightmare" stories. (ie: first day of teaching/western style housing)

Well, speaking for me (as I started a new thread relative to first day of teaching) I wasn't looking for the "worst nightmare" stories. Instead, I was honestly looking for the FIRST EXPERIENCE of teaching overseas. That some of them turned out to be, in your opinion, nightmarish, is unfortunate, but apparently realistic. I thought some of them were downright hysterical (see yaramaz' comments on that thread) Laughing and others straight to the point (such as the one that suggests new names for those who've picked generic words out of the dictionary.) Idea

So, as to why I am going to do it (yes, I am a newbie) it is because I need to 1) teach 2) learn about other cultures besides my own 3) get outside my comfort zone 4) travel 5) I have an incredibly large ego and need to have it smashed to smithereens by those students who have already ripped the old timers to shreds (JUST KIDDING) Laughing
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denise



Joined: 23 Apr 2003
Posts: 3419
Location: finally home-ish

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had few of the negative experiences we've all seen posted here--and nothing even close to "nightmarish." I am grateful for my luck!

What are some of the nice things? I can look back to my first week in Japan (just a couple of months ago) for countless examples: other teachers knocking on my door to introduce themselves, faculty and staff offering to drive me around to get me accustomed to my town, local people not treating me like a freak/weirdo/idiot foreigner, etc., etc.

Why do I stay in this business? Something about it just feels right--getting students to think, analyze, observe, critique, etc.

d
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RachelA_Broad



Joined: 11 Jul 2003
Posts: 21
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey guys,
I should clarify something I guess. When I said
'I've noticed a scary trend on this board to ask only questions that get people's "worst nightmare" stories' I think I should have phrased it differently, sorry SweetOne. I don't mean that this these questions aren't totally valid and completely good to know. I have learned a lot by reading other people's nightmares and I'm sure I've avoided a lot of headaches before even starting. Knowing that I can't work in the EU (as a U.S. passport holder) and hearing the stories repeatedly coming out of certain countries has helped me narrow in on what I want and what I can do. I guess I just feel like, as newbies, we often ask about all of our fears, and, yeah, some of them are probably founded, but I am just looking to add some balance to the picture. The first day stuff was good to read, and a good reminder that the first day at most new jobs just blows but I still need to get on the plane feeling like I'm not insane for giving up a cushy office job where my retinas get burned out on spreadsheets but my dentist's bills are fully covered
Shocked
...and maybe because I am really a scaredy cat at heart and am hoping to find stories that will finally get my fur to smooth back down...they don't make conditioner like they used to Wink
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yaramaz



Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 2345
Location: Not where I was before

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't worry- you'll be fine. YES, there will be challenges; YES it won't be a cushy retina-burning office job. But remember, those 3 1/2 cubicle walls can't hold you in forever if you have greater ambitions in life than having a house/car/spouse/kids/a pleasant yet unchallenging lifestyle. I've never had a desk job (I'm almost 30- am I too late to start?) and I think this has helped me to take risks that people in more comfortable positions wouldn't. After all, what do I have to lose by picking up and moving to Turkey or South Africa? I sure don't miss my nasty minimum waged retail jobs in Canada or my 13 hour underpaid days as a care-home attendant in London. I have no regrets. I intend to keep scaring myself into new situations for as long as I can...

Take a deep breath, do a bit of research so you don't jump blindly, know your rights and escape routes, and jump (or rather, fly).

Good luck.
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yaramaz



Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 2345
Location: Not where I was before

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rachel- a small postscript to highlight a small perk of being out of your comfort zone: your dental costs may have been fully covered at home but dental costs abroad can be quite cheap. I had to have a wisdom tooth removed a few months ago because it broke in half. I had planned to have it removed last summer when I was back in Canada but because I wasn't insured they were going to charge me $350 CDN. I didn't have $350 CDN on hand at the time. So I left my tooth as is and hoped for the best. When it finally broke in Turkey a few months later, i was scared because my school's health plan didn't cover dental. So, with half a tooth I went to a dentist in my mid sized Turkish city assuming the worst. My charming LizHurley-clone dentist took out a saw, a hammer, and a chisel, and the half-tooth was gone in minutes with little fuss and no bleeding. It was a much better job than my canadian dentist had done with another wisdom tooth two years earlier-- bleeding, swelling, antibiotics, huge fee, etc. My lovely LizHurley clone charged me $20 CDN (20 million TL) and gave me a handful of painkillers for free.
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denise



Joined: 23 Apr 2003
Posts: 3419
Location: finally home-ish

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2003 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rachel (and yaramaz, since you've never had a desk job...),

I gave up my not-so-cushy desk job in California (I was an administrative assistant, or, as a friend of mine liked to tease me, a glorified secretary) so that I could jump on a plane and take a TEFL course--with no prior teaching or tutoring experience, no clue whether I'd like teaching, given that I was quite shy, and no home in the States to return to if it didn't work out.

I have never regretted it. Yeah, it was nice to be able to leave my office at 5pm every day and not have to give even the slightest thought to the work that I left behind. As a teacher, I never get a mental break--even when I'm not grading papers and planning lessons at home, I am constantly thinking about what to do differently, what went well, what went poorly, etc. I've realized, though, that I don't want or need a mental break--the work (I hesitate to call it 'work,' because I enjoy it so much!) is so stimulating, redeeming, rewarding, etc., etc., that I enjoy thinking about it afterwards. I'd much rather be completely tied/devoted to a job that I love than not tied or mentally involved with a job that means nothing to me.

Did that make any sense? Seems like an awful lot of rambling, when my basic point is this: ditch the desk job; the challenges that you'll face in TEFL are well worth it.

d
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2003 1:06 am    Post subject: Wait Awhile, Denise... Reply with quote

Denise,I hope you continue in TESOL with no regrets and do not ever regret throwing over that "cushy desk job".
TESOL seems romantic,exciting at first.For some people,it continues that way.A big disadvantage is that it usually is not as stable as those boring 9-5 jobs.Some people continue to like it, even after years.Some people get tired of the instability.See how you feel after a couple of years.
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Cobra



Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Posts: 436

PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2003 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you find a great school where the FAO is super, the western style housing really is, the pay is decent, and you are respected, extend, extend, extend until they kick you out. Such schools are few and far between but they do exist and once you find one, stay, stay, stay!

It can be better than any cushy job back home, in my humble opinion.
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 12:28 am    Post subject: Correct, Cobra Reply with quote

Cobra is correct.If you are lucky enough to find a school with all of those conditions(they are rare)...stay as long as you can,because chances are very good that if you leave a place like that, the next job will not be nearly as good. Especially in this field.
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Cobra



Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Posts: 436

PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Cobra is correct.


Of course Cobra is correct!

Did you perchance miss the earlier admonition?

There are two rules when dealing with Cobra:

First Rule: Cobra is always right.
Second Rule: When Cobra is wrong, see the First Rule.

Wink Wink Wink Wink
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