With only a few days left until I officially take the step into unemployment I’ve been having more and more anxiety about my future and with that has come quite a few dreams related to where I’m going to end up and how I’m going to get there. I decided to put together a list of potential destinations for me to end up by the second quarter of 2011 to teach English and call my new home for a little while.
Much like they do every week in sports, I’ve put together my own Teaching Destination Power Rankings. This is a list of where I would like to end up ranked in order from highest to least likihood. It will be interesting to look back on this post and see where I actually end up.
1. Hong Kong – My favorite big city in the world. Sorry New York. I don’t know how realistic it is for me to expect to teach and live in Hong Kong on my first attempt but I guess that all depends on the effort I put in and the willingness I have to go for my ultimate goal right away. The pay is decent here and a lot of jobs will provide housing, however it is competitive and I’ve read that jobs for first time teachers can be difficult to come by. Maybe my first teaching contract won’t be here but I’ll end up in Hong Kong eventually.
2. Bangkok, Thailand – It’s funny how Bangkok has become a place more and more likely for me to end up. I wasn’t completely enamored with Bangkok when I was there but I have a couple of friends who live here already. I know the city pretty well since I spent a few weeks there hanging out with another teacher. It just makes sense. I’d like to live somewhere that friends and family could have an easy time visiting and Bangkok provides that. So for a first time experience, the far east “City of Angels” Is looking more and more likely.
3. Chiang Mai, Thailand – If Hong Kong is my favorite big city in the world, Chiang Mai would have to be my favorite little city. This is the city I’ve spent the most time in outside of wherever I’ve lived in the United States. It is quiet and peaceful but also has everything I need. It is only a night train ride from Bangkok and offers a unique Northern Thai experience. Teaching won’t be any easier here but living might be, compared to some of the bigger cities.
4. Jakarta, Indonesia – Indonesia used to be at the top of my list of living destinations as I was always fascinated with its internal dangers. Either from political/religious turmoil or from natural disasters. As I’ve grown a little older and learned more about the world I’ve found that Indonesia doesn’t present the danger from within that headlines liked to tell about. The natural disasters including earthquakes, floods and volcano eruptions sure do attract my adventurous side though. Also, I have a contact in Jakarta that might be able to help me find a teaching job so that could make it a sensible first teaching experience.
5. Any outlying town or city in Thailand – There is a strong chance that finding work in either Bangkok or Chiang Mai will be nearly impossible so I have to keep my options open. If I want to teach in Thailand I may have to start out working outside of some of the majors towns and cities and find work in outlying areas. This could still be really interesting but not exactly the type of place I’d want to stay in for the long hall. It would more of a stepping stone in getting better jobs in the big cities.
6. Anywhere in Japan – I had originally thought that Japan would be boring but the more I think of it the more interesting it becomes. Like Hong Kong, teaching in Japan can be difficult for those with little experience and more importantly Japan looks for teachers who already have experience teaching in the country. I’ve never been to Japan nor do I have any real idea what the culture is about so I am probably behind the curve with this one. That being said, I hear teachers are treated very well and learning Japanese would be a huge plus!
8. Any big city in mainland China or Taiwan – This, along with (see below) Korea may be one of my best opportunities to teach English. I’ve read that jobs are easier to come by if I’m willing to live in China. I just don’t feel that interested in doing so. Unless a really good opportunity came availabie in Shanghai or Taipei it is unlikely I’ll want to end up here.
9. South Korea – From what I’ve read about English teaching jobs in Asia it seems as though Korea is the hotspot. Korea tends to have the highest paying jobs and more importantly, lots of openings. Housing is usually paid for so the ability to save money while working is far greater here. The problem for me is, I just don’t really have the interest in living in South Korea. I’m not sure why, but it just doesn’t draw me to it. The climate is a factor as well since I’m looking to live somewhere that doesn’t get too cold. It snows in South Korea sometimes and that just won’t work for me. Obviously, if it came down to it I’d take a job here but I’d have to try real hard to get myself excited about it.
10. Medellin, Colombia – This one is a bit of a stretch. I’m not really interested in teaching in South America right now but I certainly won’t ignore it entirely. If finding work in Asia proves difficult I will probably end up looking towards Medellin. I know it’s a place I could live and it is really close to home. As much as I want to travel to distant places and be away from home, it would be a huge plus to only be a 3.5 hour plane flight from family and friends. I’m sure my mom would like this one!
11. Somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa – I like where life is taking me right now and ever since 2005 I’ve had a general idea of what I want to do. I try to stay away from having specific goals but instead broader ideas of where I want to go and what I want to do. Living and working in Africa has always been in the back of my mind as something I have to do at some point before I die. I don’t think I’m ready right now to make that kind of a change, but after a few years in Asia I’ll be more prepared to take that step. It is very unlikely I will look for jobs in Africa right now but I do see a path that leads me through the Peace Corps before returning home. With my experience teaching English in Asia I should be able to give two years service and after doing so I can return home and teach in the United States. Teaching in the Peace Corps would benefit me because the state of Florida requires that teachers be certified before they enter the classroom but that requirement can be waived after two years service in the corps. This is the least likely destination for me right now but definitely a major goal of mine.