What Color is Your (Teaching) Parachute?

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that all bartenders/waiters are actually photographers or actors.

Teaching ESL abroad can be a similar endeavor. It’s a way to maximize working hours and return-on-investment. Shifts are short, and payout can be decent. You have — theoretically — more freedom than  the average bear.

When I was a bartender, there was a certain lifestyle attached to it. Sure, my day started at 9pm, which left me the whole day to get things done. But, at the same time, that day didn’t end until 4am the next day. Your day’s work spans two days, and then next day you’re quite tired.

I’ve found that I sleep better when I sleep before midnight. I could get 6 hours of sleep starting at 10pm or 3am, and every single time I feel more rested when I sleep earlier, even on the same quantity of hours slept.

Pro-tip: The quality of your sleep directly impacts the quality of your wakefulness. Find what works.

At this point, you’re probably wondering how this is related to the title. I’ll tell you.

I was recently confronted with some decisions. I was offered good jobs teaching in international schools in Beijing and in Singapore.

I turned them down.

In many ways, I’m an idiot for not posting this from the Lion City. Better job, better pay, better country (all of these are completely objective and numbers-supported).

The offers made me confront myself. I had to be honest with myself. Were I to take this job, I would be a full-time teacher. In my spare time, it would behoove me to become a better teacher. A proper career. Lovely.

But, I knew in my heart that there are other things I want to do. Teaching is a skill, a passion, and a job, but not the only thing I want to do. In order to pursue other creative outlets, I need to carve out time in my schedule and allow space for them.

ESL teaching — as opposed to teaching in an international school — affords me that space in my schedule.

Ultimately, for me, time is more valuable than money.

If you’re spending your time in language mills and thinking about making the jump to an international school, consider how you value your time. That should be the deciding factor.

Good luck in your teaching and travels.


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