For the first time in my life I have been working Monday to Friday and relatively normal office hours. Although I’ve been finished with university for almost two years now, I’ve been sort of mucking about on different continents not doing much and doing everything at the same time. Before Chile it was waitressing in South Africa (to raise funds to come to Chile, although I still ended up selling my car to make things happen) and before that it was a glorious few months in Colorado with some of my best friends. I must say, that experience plays on my mind almost on a daily basis. I would go so far as to say I have a crush on that beautiful state and 100% intend on going back one day.
My two previous jobs were both in the service industry (far from the journalism I’d been studying for four years) which meant that I worked most Saturdays, Sundays and even Christmas and New Years. While jobs like that are good for avoiding the Monday Blues, since there’s no such thing as Monday or Friday, it did suck having to work when everyone else was playing. But as I mentioned before, I’m growing up and holding down ‘proper’ jobs that actually pay the bills. You will notice the ‘jobs’ and not ‘job’ because I have two of them here which is the only way I’m going to save any money for travelling purposes.
Since I teach English to business people, my classes take place between 8:30 and 10:00, lunchtime and after 6pm. This allows me free time for my other job which is working for a wine company called Concha y Toro- the biggest and most successful one in the country might I add. I often think of what a fantastic opportunity it is to have that job, which is being part of their social media marketing team (facebook for a living, hells yes!) and I get to write stories for their website too. All in all, it’s going to look real good when I stick it on my CV. Concha y Toro is such a massive and well renowned company and its really interesting having my first corporate learning experience in such an environment. Having meetings is also quite an experience because I have to sit there and concentrate dam heard to understand, at most, 60% of what is being said. Thank god they switch to English when I need to know what’s going on. For the rest of the time it’s just me and my computer which means that by the end of my few office hours, I’m more than happy to go and teach a class which is essentially all about human interaction.
In the mornings (and other times of the day) I take the metro downtown to teach at the companies where my students work. These classes are all one on one and are a great way to start the day. The public transport at that time, however, can be a nightmare. Mondays are the worst since it’s the beginning of the week and people are keen to get to work on time. Throughout the week, it gets a little emptier as people get lazy about being on time. It never ceases to amaze me how many people can cram into one space and not even look to perturbed about having to inhale the shampoo smells of those standing in front of them. My observation has been that Chileans are very laid back people, from the way they approach punctuality to the way they deal with day to day situations. Not even the babies are big noise makers.
Not all my classes are one on one, some of them get as big as 4 people! (not very big at all)That being said the whole class is almost always never present. Sometimes I can have from one to three of them, but never all four. Planning for the classes, in this case, is futile and so I don’t do it. We have a book and a syllabus to stick to so I do my best at using my natural quick wit and sense of humour to keep things interesting. Feedback is positive so I must be doing something right. In this sense, my experience of teaching has been really great. Because my classes are so small and the environment is very relaxed, my students have become more like friends. I can talk to them about whatever (more or less, there’s gotta be some sort of professionalism) and they too can tell me things. We laugh and have a good time, and I fear that this experience may have ruined me for possible future teaching experiences in other countries. (aka teaching a class of 50 kids in Asia). I’m glad that the experience is at least good, because the money certainly isn’t.
In hindsight it’s really important to have a good relationship with your students. In my experience they have all been willing to help out with complicated visa document translations, moving around class times to make room for my second job and even sincerely offer help in whatever way when I can’t make class due to illness (something along the lines of, ‘I just realised that you are in a strange country all alone and maybe don’t know what to do if you’re sick so please let me know if you need anything’).
All things considered I seriously recommend coming to Chile to teach English. It’s a great place to come to after you’ve made a killing teaching in Asia because that way you are able to use Chile as your base and take short trips around South America (I have not been able to do this because of a lack of funds but will do a fraction of what I’d like to at the end of the year). If you are really interested in immersing yourself in the culture and enjoy the quiet countryside then you can teach in one of many small, remote towns. My experience in Santiago, however, has been a more multi-cultural one. I live with foreigners and I meet them all the time because this is where most ex-pats live. If you choose to teach and live in the countryside I would imagine it could get a bit lonely with the lack of foreigners. For that reason, I don’t think I’d like to be stationed anywhere else. If I want to peace and quiet and beautiful scenery then I have to travel outside the city. And believe me, as a farm girl the city life can get a bit suffocating. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. The company I am able to keep here is priceless. It also means that I speak English all the time which definitely has its pros and cons. The biggest con being that my Spanish isn’t where it should be after 8 months of being here.
My student, Cristian, always punctual and drinking coffee 🙂
Who says living in the city can’t be relaxing. There are numerous parks and I live a few steps away from one of the prettiest.
…..and if I didn’t live in the city I wouldn’t be able to write my blog post in the company of good friends and some good Chilean wine…. look how grown up we all are doing work at 10pm…. well, they were working, I was writing this.