Tuesday, April 19, 2011

FAQ and a New Car

April has flown by.  I can’t believe July 27th is only a little over three months away.  I feel like there’s still so much for me to do in order to be ready to move.  I do have more information than I did a month ago, though.  I have my school calendar (so I can tell you that I have 3 weeks off at Christmas, and when my week and a half off at spring break is, if you’re interested), and the curriculum for my classes.  Through email, some of the current teachers at my school have been able to answer my questions about what to expect, which is great.  And, it turns out there will be 7 of us from the US teaching there next year, and 6 of us are new.  I think it’s kind of nice that so many of us will be in the same boat. 

Also, I am very excited because…I am buying a new (well, new to me) car in Puerto Rico!  2 of the teachers who are leaving at the end of this year are selling me theirs.  (Check out their blog about their experiences in Puerto Rico, by the way—it’s teachtraveltaste.com).  I’m happy because now I will have a car waiting for me as soon as I arrive in Guayama, and I’m buying it from a more reliable source than just some random used car salesman.  The car’s a bit old (a ’96 Honda), and has a few miles (225,000), but it sounds like it’s still in decent shape and the current owners have put a good bit of work into it.  I just need it to last two years…

Now, I thought I’d answer some FAQ.  I feel like since I’ve been subbing and meeting new people recently, I’ve had the same conversation many times.  It generally goes something like this:
Them: “So, did you just graduate?”
Me: “Yup, last December.”
Them: “Oh, congratulations.  And now you’re just subbing and…looking for work?  Any prospects…?”
Me:  “Actually, I have a job; next fall I’m moving to Puerto Rico to teach middle school English.”
Them: “Puerto Rico! Wow!”
And then everyone tends to ask more or less the same questions. 

1) How long will you be there?
A: It’s a 2 year contract.  After that…who knows?

2) What are you teaching?/Are you teaching them to speak English?
A: I’m teaching 7th and 8th grade English/Language Arts.  While most of the kids will speak Spanish as their first language, their classes have all been in English since kindergarten…so I’m teaching Language Arts, in English, to people who speak English.

3) Do you have to find a place to live when you get there?
A: Nope!  One of the benefits of working at many international schools…they provide housing.  Mine will even be furnished.  And I won’t have to pay rent!  Just my utilities each month. 

4) Are you scared?
A: Yes, I’m scared about some things.  I’m scared to be completely on my own in the adult world for the first time.  How does my insurance work?  Should I start saving for retirement now?  (I think yes…but how?  Am I supposed to “invest” in something?)  What happens if my car breaks down and my dad can’t make a 20 minute drive and tell me what went wrong?  And I’m scared to have my own classroom for the first time.  And of course, I’m scared I’ll be lonely, or that I’ll get homesick. 

But beyond all that, and bigger, and more importantly, I’m EXCITED.  I’m excited to have my own classroom for the first time—to do things my way, to try out new ideas, to plan a year’s worth of unit plans.  I’m excited to experience a new culture, a new way of life, to hopefully practice my Spanish.  Tonight, as I look out the window at the snow coating the ground in late April, I’m excited for warm temperatures all year long.  I’m excited to meet new people, make new friends, and have new adventures.  My gut tells me teaching internationally is one decision I will never regret.