After almost two months here, I figured it was about time to update you all on my job search. The first place I interviewed, Media 8, didn’t end up offering me a job… which was understandable considering I don’t really have much experience with translation. I think it was a good thing really because it pushed me to look for jobs teaching English instead and also I don’t really know how happy I would have been (or how happy my back would have been) at a job that involves sitting at a computer inside all day.
So, when I got back from Perú and got the news from Media 8 I decided it was time to start approaching English schools. I’m here at sort of an inopportune time because the school year ends in November and starts again in February, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. I did a lot of searching online and made a list of English schools in Córdoba to visit. I was a little nervous to go about the city essentially asking strangers for jobs in Spanish… but it really wasn’t so bad. I chatted with lots of receptionists and left my CV at various different schools. People were friendly and all excited about the fact that I’m a native speaker and that I plan to stay here for more than just a few months. I ended up interviewing at a school called SET Idiomas, which offers classes in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and I think even Chinese. They have a beautiful building right in the center of the city and everything is labeled with signs in all those different languages. The woman I interviewed with was great and seemed very interested… in me starting to work there when the new school year starts in February. Which is great, but I wanted something to do in the meantime besides bake lots of zucchini bread, banana bread, and carrot cake in an attempt to convince my Argentine friends that “strange”American desserts involving fruits and vegetables can be delicious. By the way, I was successful.:
[Making banana bread batter. ]
[The carrot cake that a friend and I made for my host mom for Mother’s Day. ]
I’ve been working the networking tree as much as possible, contacting fellow alums of the study abroad program I did here and talking with the directors of that program and other friends here to see if anyone knows of anything. I ended up getting the name of a woman named Laura Luna, a translator who is also the director of her own private English school called Milestone Idiomas (Idiomas means languages). I wrote to Laura and then met up with her at a cafe to discuss possible job opportunities. Laura constantly receives requests for English classes from businesses and hires English teachers to teach those classes. Luckily, she was in need of someone to cover a class for a week at a company called Volartec, so I agreed to do it.
Volartec is a company that does something science/math-y involving airplanes and is conveniently located only 15 mins (walking) from my house. The classes were Monday-Thursday from 8:30-9:30 am. The Monday-Wednesday class was an advanced class with about 8 students and the Tuesday-Thursday class was an intermediate class with 6 students. The students were all young professionals.. I’m guessing somewhere between my age and 35. Their teacher gave me some photocopies from the book their working with, so each class we spent 30 mins. doing a conversation activity and 30 mins. doing grammar and reading exercises from their book. The conversation game I invented to use with my Korean students over the summer (although I am starting to get bored of it) has been very successful. Essentially I just made a deck of cards with note cards in which every card has a different question on it. Students go around in a circle and each pick a question on their turn (What’s the last book you read? What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten? What room in the house do you spend the most time in? etc. etc. etc.). It works really well for generating conversation and gets students to use a range of vocabulary and verb tenses. This week Laura let me know that the people from Volartec called to say they really liked my classes and want me to come back 2 or 3x a month even though they already have a teacher. Wahooooooooo.
Since then, Laura has also offered me three private students which I am in the process of taking on. Two of them (Leandro and Mauricio) work at a company called Corebi. I don’t really understand what it is they do either but it’s something involving “Business Intelligence” and software and they work on the computer all day too.
This week I started classes with Leandro, Mondays and Thursdays from 5-6 pm. Leandro speaks pretty well already since he has traveled extensively through the U.S. He has made many trips to San Francisco since he is very interested in social networking programs and wants to start his own program called ATM (All The Metrics) that would allow companies to share information (stats, charts, etc.). I suppose sort of like LinkedIn only sharing research info instead of personal info. He is the only person I’ve met here in Argentina that owns Mac products (a MacBook Pro, iPad, and iPhone).. all of which he bought during his trips to the U.S. Most people here don’t have Mac products (or other expensive foreign-produced electronics) because coming through customs everyone has to pay 50% of the price of every item they’ve bought abroad. When my parents sent me a package here with some of my clothing and books, I had to pay $50 (my mom had recorded that the contents cost $100) plus an additional charge for every day the package was at the post office before I picked it up. Here packages don’t come directly to your house. Instead, you receive a notice in the mail and have to go wait in line to receive it at the post office. Before they hand over a package to you they even open it to look and see what’s inside. Feels very intrusive.
Apart from my private students and substituting work, I’ve been visiting the class of a friend here, Chris, who is also from the U.S. and has been teaching here for the past 9 months. He works at a school called IICANA where they teach American English, as opposed to a lot of other schools here which teach British English. The class I’ve been visiting is a conversation class for adults taught on Monday and Wednesday nights from 8-9:30 pm. The students speak very well which is great because it broadens the range of activities we can do with them. The first day I was there the director of IICANA approached me to ask if I want to potentially take on Chris’ classes when he returns to the U.S. in December. I very enthusiastically said yes, so hopefully that will come through! The bummer is that the pay for English teachers here is not all that great… 40 pesos an hour, which is almost 11 dollars an hour. I’m hoping that when the new school year starts up between work at schools and my private students I will be able to make a reasonable about of money.
In other news, on Halloween I discovered I am officially the adult that takes children out trick-or-treating. What?
Clara half-heartedly went as a witch, and
Vera went as a vampire/zombie, complete with fake blood she made with food coloring, honey, and other random ingredients. We went around the neighborhood here ringing doorbells.. since Halloween isn’t really officially celebrated here most people didn’t have any candy prepared to hand out, but most people were nice and rooted through their houses to see if they could find something to give the kids.
I will leave you all with a photo of the paintings that Clara and I made this week in an attempt to get her excited about an activity that isn’t playing on my iPad 🙂 It worked!