What If…


If you’ve already made the move to either Southeast Asia or Latin America, that could very well be the question you’re asking yourself right now. It’s a whole different set of problems than you had when you were worried about money or status.

Of course, if you want to worry about those things, you still can. You’ll always find something you can’t afford, and somebody who doesn’t hold you with the regard in which you’re convinced you deserve to be held. But if you can leave that alone, at least for a few hours or days, you might find new fun, the kind you forgot was even available anymore!

The problem with looking at the world through a new pair of glasses is that you sometimes find yourself dizzy. What used to come easily now requires proceeding more slowly. Stepping off a curb becomes a major affair. Even if you can stop yourself from rushing around, scrambling to get ahead, you still have to do something with your time. But what?

Part-time volunteer English teaching isn’t too bad a gig. Problem is, few students who are merely curious will do much hard work for something so daunting as learning a foreign language. We, living in their country, are much more motivated to learn their language. They have a vague idea that they should learn English, that it would help them get ahead, but if the lessons are free, chances are you’ll see fifteen students at the first class meeting and two at the second. \

The gigs where you get paid are harder to get than you’d think. First of all, the wages would be very low, and their own citizens who really need the money are motivated to over-estimate their own English skills and take all the jobs. If you want to be paid well to teach English, you’d better be in your twenties and good-looking. Blue eyes and blonde hair are a plus. That’s whom the private language academies and international schools are looking to hire, because these employers cater to the rich who can afford to pay for window dressing.

You don’t want those jobs, anyway. You’re not on your way to anywhere, career-wise. If you do accept a position, the first time you’re asked to kiss ass, you’ll walk. So shut the door firmly behind you on your former working life, on those sorts of huge limits and scant possibilities, and move on.

The world is a bigger, richer, more interesting place than we have been giving it credit for. (I know I just ended a sentence with a preposition, but I can’t figure out how to say it any other way.) Being able to retire overseas, we’ve been given a great gift. Let’s not squander it.

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