There’s a reason it’s called Work.
Work is still work. After two years of being out of work, my mini retirement has ended for a while. There’s a part of me that is happy that I have a place to settle for a bit, however there’s a larger part of me that would rather stay unemployed and gallivanting around the globe.
Working again has really thrown me for a loop. Sure, I have to get up everyday and be somewhere; and I have a ‘boss’ again. But that’s not the surprising stuff. The part that took me by surprise was this feeling that I’m selling myself short. I look around at my new ‘peers’ and see they are just out of college. They are all wonderful teachers (better than I can ever hope to be!), but I can’t help but wonder if they are striving for a career similar to the one I gave up. I’ve had this lump in my throat all week, wondering if I have done the right thing – or wondering if I should be striving to do more. Have I thrown away my MBA and work experience; tossed it aside so that I can teach? Am I really giving up a 14 year career to make $18 an hour? Or is it that I just don’t want to have the destructive corporate experience I had before; the kind where you’re married to the company. Time will tell on that question – I will be pondering this for months no doubt. In the meantime, I have a small paycheck.
The school itself is nice and full of resources. I have 3 classes I’m teaching – one of which is a complete beginner’s class. I recall all of those times people asked me how in the world I could teach English in Vietnam if I didn’t know Vietnamese. I would always shrug the question off and say – you don’t need to be able to speak Vietnamese to teach English! Now I’m sitting here after week one going – damn – this is hard – it sure would be easier if I knew some Vietnamese!
It’s been over 6 months since I actually took my teaching course, so my first day back in a classroom was a bit terrifying. Sure, I taught in Nepal, but that kind of teaching is totally different. These Vietnamese students are actually paying to go to language school, they have expectations. They aren’t happy simply staring at me in amazement. Well, actually maybe they are – one of my students has a total crush on me which is a little concerning considering I look like a sweaty mess most days; PLUS I could be his mother.
In addition to my beginners, I also teach an elementary class (just a hair bit more English understanding than beginners) and a writing class. Yes, that’s right – a writing class. I know, I know – you are all hoping that I learn something while teaching that class. Actually the writing class is simply a class on how to write effective paragraphs/essays for English language tests. I’m just trying to stay one class ahead of what I’m teaching. It’s been an adventure as learning about paragraph formation has taken me back to 4th grade I think.
I wish I could say that it was all great so far, but it’s honestly a lot of change to manage in my life. If you top that off with the fact that I’m a hopeless type A perfectionist it makes for a terrible combination. I really wish I could be satisfied with just getting by – but I can’t. So I spend hours and hours at work which then means that I’m actually making about $10 an hour and one has to wonder…is it worth it?
This is only the first few weeks, so I will continue to tell myself to be patient and not think too much, but it’s more challenging than any of you can imagine.
By backpackingteacher October 25, 2008 - 11:40 pm
Am really enjoying your reading your blog as you come to terms with life in Saigon. Like you I also moved from the business world into teaching. For me the move was more than vindicated. Best thing I could ever have done. Teaching’s a blast. Keep blogging and I’ll keep reading.
By laisan October 28, 2008 - 3:53 am
the $18 hour a day will make sure you do not get married to your job, so have a laugh over it 😉
By Lynn Nill October 30, 2008 - 6:25 am
Just give yourself some time. You’re right, its a LOT of change to process in a short period. But I don’t believe its a waste, no matter what you decide to do in the long run. If you had never done this you would always be wondering and dreaming about doing this – traveling, teaching. So now you ARE doing it, and even if in the end you decide teaching is not for you, at least you have found out something further about yourself.
But….I think you already know you enjoy teaching. There’s many ways to teach, so you may have to try different venues before you find the one that’s right for you. In the meantime. once you get through this initial shock I think it will be fun to hear about Vietnam becoming your “home”…
By admin October 30, 2008 - 7:00 am
Thank you so much. It is a lot of change, and scarier than shit to be doing it all by myself. I have to admit – it’s a very solitary, lonely road that I’m traveling on right now. I don’t know that many people can really understand how challenging it is everyday; new career, new country, new home (well – no home yet – still living out of a suitcase). Keep sending positive vibes my way as I need all the help I can get!!
Laisan – you are right…that did give me an uplifting laugh! Hope to meet you in person soon over coffee!