Traveling Solo Through Chile For Personal Growth – Part 2
After my three month visit to Chile in 2007, I returned to The States to find that in my hometown, there is a school which offers certification to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). It turns out there are many programs of this nature offered both on site and online.
The TEFL class I attended took place Monday – Friday from 9AM to 6PM for one month and includes both classroom learning and student teaching. Although the course takes only a month to complete, the work to complete it takes every waking moment of your life for the entire month.
Upon completing the course and obtaining certification, the school offers a lifetime job placement service. Most of the students in my class had a pretty good idea of where in the world they wanted to teach. Many of my classmates planned to teach in South Korea. My plan was to return to Chile, this time, to live and work for a while.
In March 2008, I returned to Chile having arranged to stay with one of my Spanish teachers for a week while finding a place to rent. I got a job teaching English to business professionals, at one of the many language schools in Santiago.
There is a push for business professionals in Chile to know English and job promotions are often contingent upon learning English. Employers pay for their employees to attend class and as students, they are highly motivated.
I was hired by the language institute but quickly learned that most of my classes would not be held at the institute. Instead, most of my day was spent traveling throughout the city, from business to business, wearing a backpack filled with books, to teach my students in their offices, while eating empanadas on the run. Chilean food is for the most part bland, and they remove the peels from everything, even tomatoes, before eating.
I loved my students and teaching English but my day was often very long and tiring. You can earn a living doing this type of work if you stay busy.
Because it takes time for businesses to enroll their students and for classes to start, it is important to have money saved before embarking on the journey to this type of career.
In Chile, if you work for an institute under contract, you will receive a temporary resident’s visa, allowing you to stay in the country for one year.
My first job was not a contract position which means I had to leave the country every three months in order to renew my tourist visa. The fastest and least expensive way to do this is to take a seven hour bus ride from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina, a beautiful city with close proximity to vineyards, skiing, and thermal springs.
You can go through customs and immigration and return immediately on the next bus if you are inclined, but most folks spend at least one night in Argentina. These trips require careful planning during the winter months since it is possible to get snowed in for quite some time which is problematic if you are scheduled to teach classes.
In 2008, I taught English from March until November and then traveled through Peru on a tour and to the Antarctic Peninsula on a ship. Lima, Peru is a four hour flight from Santiago. Peru is a beautiful country with wonderful food although I don’t recommend the cuy (Peruvian Guinea pig.) Peru feels much more like South America to me than does Chile. It’s a place I definitely recommend visiting.
Antarctica has 24 hours of bright daylight all summer long. After a day, you lose all track of time. It is a magnificent place with lots of penguins. I even saw an Albatross fly over our ship.
We attended fascinating lectures with scientists who were stationed for one year on the peninsula to study global climate change.
In January 2009, I returned to The States for two months, to re-group, before planning my next work/travel adventure. So stay tuned…