This is the second part of the four part series on teaching overseas. Last week I ran through some stats about teaching English abroad, and this week I'll be looking at the pros and cons that those stats shed light upon.
So, the first place to start, and the most important for any young up and comer, is salary. The money. As I noted last week the average salary for someone with their Master's degree over there (in English particularly) is approximately $2149.00 - 2417.74 a month (in Canadian Dollars). After deductions I'm left with $1890.26 - 2159.00.
$1890.26 - 2159.00 a month in a country where you can easily live off $500 a month is definitely a big deal. Living and working in Ontario my monthly costs are almost three times that - mostly because paying rent and utilities costs will fall on me rather than my employer.
Further, $500 a month in Korea does not mean a life of microwave noodles and instant rice. It's a life of movie seeing, museum exploring, out-dining luxury. Okay, well, maybe without the diamonds and bling. But, still. Living on that much a month would leave me with $1390.26 - $1659.00 to save. I'd definitely buy a bike again while over there (and take more precautions with it *ahem*) and that's a considerable cost. But big ticket items like that would be few and far between.
Taking a longer look, a year's worth of work would generate something to the tune of $19200. A figure that would be unheard of over here for an entry level teaching job. For example, working as a Communications prof would net me about 3-5000 per course depending on things like location, school prestige, class size, etc. If I had a 3-2 or a 2-3 course load that would mean that I'd be making $15-25000 a year. Okay. It measures up, but living costs would keep pace. Most colleges probably aren't going to pay for an apartment or utilities, after all.
I am also much more likely to get a job abroad. I've been overseas before, I am familiar with the school/education office hierarchy, and already have the outlines of the language in my brain. Working in a high school would be an easy gig to land, though I could wind up in another middle school.
But the main thing would be that I'd aspire to a university position. And this would likely pay even better - though I imagine that instead of 300 a month the deductible might be double that. Just a guess, a kind of worst case budget scenario.
So it definitely seems like a pro situation to go overseas rather than to stay here and either get to work as a college professor (not a bad alternative, though) or to go to teacher's college. On the financial front, that is.
But what about the social aspects of things?
I remember the first time that I was over there, it was incredibly liberating for the first month or so, but then it became crushingly lonely. And when the one person that I had spent most of my free time with left at the end of his contract, it seemed like being there for longer than the month that I had left would have been simply unbearable.
But. This time I have a built in defense against such loneliness.
I'd be going as part of a couple. My fiancée would be coming along - though, if things go as she plans, she'll be my wife at that point - and so loneliness becomes negligible. Skyping with friends back home will be easier since there will be three of us in most situations, and even when there isn't there'll always be at least one thing to talk about.
But then, two people living in a small apartment might speed up stir craziness. I'll need to figure out a way to keep my space. As much as she'll need a way to keep hers I'd wager. Barring the lack of personal space, though, my feeling is that it'd be a socially harmonious experience. We would definitely grow stronger as a couple. And we'd undoubtedly make some fellow ex-pat and Korean friends, too.
There would be the extra cost of a wedding, however. My fiancée insists on marrying before we go overseas together, and I see the sense in this. Of course, that would mean that we'd need to cover those costs before leaving. The "start-up" cost would be significantly increased.
According to the Ontario Wedding Blog, a wedding would raise the total "start up" cost by $20,129. The total "start up" cost would then be $23,763. Though any loans taken out to cover this could be repaid just a few months into our employment. But that would compel us to stay for longer to make up for lost savings.
The only other major consideration is the costs involved with flying back for Christmas and a stint during summer. And, since this consideration is based in money, it really wouldn't be a major issue.
Ultimately, then, it seems that the pros are financial and social in that we would expand our circle of friends and strengthen our bonds. And the biggest con would be the strain placed on friendships.
Next week, I ditch the logic and numbers, and write from my gut. As it will then be a full moon, I'll write as intuitively about going overseas to teach ESL as I can.
If you've had your own experience figuring out a major life decision feel free to share what strategies worked for you or any considerations that I might have missed in the comments.