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Mexico - my experiences

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Joined: 22 Oct 2002
Posts: 117
Location: Los Angeles, California

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 1:38 am    Post subject: Mexico - my experiences Reply with quote

I worked in Mexico for about a year and also travelled in Central America. I will try to give a balanced view or everything to try and help others.
First or all I worked in Oaxaca city for 7 months and it was a great job (la URSE private University). I canīt say there werenīt problems like sometimes not knowing which classes I would get until the last minute, or limited resources. But over all I got paid never more than 2 days late and my students were great. O.K they were sometimes late or didnīt do homework, but that is Mexico and I realised that they led very busy lives - some of them studying medicine as well as taking 2 hours of English a day and a part time job. After 1 month of split shifts I worked from 4-8 Monday to Fri and had enough money to go to the beach now and then and live comfortably. Most of my friends at other schools were satisfied and comfortable - the only school I would advice against is Harmon Hall as the Director changed and it seems to be extremely anal with regards to uniform, teaching style, making you do unpaid training etc.
So overall I think work is quite easy to get in Oaxaca and it is beautiful and fascinating although quite conservative.

I then worked in Mexico City for 4 months and I cut my time short because I was fed up. I taught business English in companies because in school classes donīt pay enough to make it worth being in the city. (EF is a possible exception - 70 pesos per hour).
I would say donīt trust anything that anyone says there unless you have worked from them for a while. There are good schools but a lot of BAD. First, in Dec. I was offered classes starting on 7th Jan by a University who said I must be there by then to get the job. So I rushed back from travelling only to find they werenīt even open on that date and the director then said she had no classes for me. Another school gave me a few hours promising that they had a big contract starting up mid January. However this contract was always starting next week. So I gave up on that and went to another school were some friends worked - GLS language Academy in the Zona Rosa and if they are still in business DO NOT WORK FOR THEM - THEY ARE CROOKS!!!
I thought they were really nice people, however when it came to paying it was another story. The first month my pay was īonlyī about 10 days late. However my next check took me 2 months to get and then only because I fought for it. They also tried to deduct 1000 pesos from me because the first time I tried to cash the check it bounced. They did the same to everyone who worked there owing one guy 2000 dollars and lying left right and centre (long story but trust me I am not exagerating).
In the end I threatened to visit immigration and tell them they were hiring illegal workers and I immediately got the money - they were not going to give it too me otherwise. So thats a good one to try if your boss wonīt pay you as although you probably wouldnīt actually go the school would get into so much trouble that they probably wont take the risk. I am not usually that sort of person but I donīt like to be walked over either.
Any way I did finally work for an honest guy but after having my hours changed around twice by the companies I got fed up and left. To be honest the stress of travelling around the city on the metro wasnt worth it.
I put fliers up round the cities and got some privates - they paid well and got me out of a tight spot as itīs instant cash, but also wereīnt that reliable as sometimes they would cancel with no notice.
So my advice is donīt bother with D.F. unless you have a really strong reason to be there, donīt care if you donīt get many hours, or are very flexible - or have a lot of time to wade through the dross and get a good job. You will make enough to survive (hourly rate is between 80 - 200 pesos - average 120) but not without stress.
O.K. schools in my experience: SCHOLA English and Aphla. There are hundreds however. I also heard of qualified school teachers making very good money at international schools.
Mexico is a really interesting place. A lot of things bugged me - small minded attitudes - my students told me they hate gay people for example and my vegetarianism was really strange to them. Honesty is also a problem -people donīt like to say no I think so if someone knows a job or a place to live for you take it with a pinch of salt - it may or not exist. Also the men are still quite sexist and if you want to go out with one be prepared for jealousy and donīt be suprised if they cheat on you. But I know I am generalising and of course there are exceptions - just take care with your emotions and take time to trust.
However I can honestly say that I miss Mexico a lot (and more particulary Guatemala where I went afterwards) and I often think of going back. It has some kind of magic that it worked on me and it is beautiful, has really nice colonial cities, a great climate. Also I have never had better students - loads of fun and keen to learn.
Hope this helps someone somewhere.

Another thing - if you can get your degree and TEFL stamped by your embassy before you leave home to make getting work papers easier.
But most people work illegaly without problems so donīt worry too much. Something WILL work our somewhere for sure.

Elena Harbry
[email protected]
Posted: November 28, 2002
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