Last week in Bangkok was one of the annual job fairs for international teaching. I did not go as I already have a two-year contract, but it’s been fun to hear where other people are going. It got me thinking about where I want to go next. One of my teaching partners got a job at a school in India. It made me think about the job fair last year in Boston.
It was bitterly cold. I had no idea the temperature on Earth could drop that low and on top of that, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I must have called my mom about a million times that week, and each time she answered with patience, understanding, and solid advice. Simply put, it was one of the most intense weeks of my entire life. There were hundreds of people there, all who seemed to know what they are doing, and all of the jobs I was going to put in for were already filled. And the positions that were left were literally disappearing by the hour. There was this whole system of mailboxes and communication and did I mention where the interviews took place? Because of limited space, the interviews were held in the recruiter’s hotel room. Now, this is all on the up and up, but it was weird for me, because I felt like, okay this is where this person that I just met and hope to get a job with, sleeps and showers. The bed is in plain sight. Like, his or her folded underwear is somewhere close by. Unsettling by manageable.
I remember in my interview with a school in Japan, the principal offered me the job right there on the spot. It was my first interview and I had three others lined up. I did not know what to do. It wasn’t the location I was looking for as it was in a rural, isolated part of Japan. However, I was incredibly anxious that I might not get another job offer. I thought of all of the money and time I had put into this job search and I think I had a bit of a nervous breakdown because of the pressure I felt. I was literally sweating, going back and forth, trying to make a decision. I finally called a friend of mine who knows me very well and he said, “Claire, I’ve never known you to hesitate about anything you really wanted. If you are hesitating, it’s not the job for you.” It’s weird how sometimes people know you better than you know yourself.
My other interviews were with schools in Oman, China, and India. India seemed very promising but from what I understood, and what I have since heard from other international teachers, India wouldn’t necessarily be an easy, first teaching abroad location. After taking the job with China, I left a thank-you note with the India people (I was scheduled for a second interview later that afternoon) and I went back to my hotel room and promptly cried for about 3-hours straight. My eyes were almost swollen shut by the time dinner rolled around from all of the mixed emotions going on in my head and knowing exactly how much I would miss my nephews. I was stepping out into the unknown and I was both thrilled and terrified.
The next job fair I go to probably won’t be as emotionally charged, but I am sure it will be stressful. However, there’s a certain fluidity to this lifestyle as people come and go and it’s all just part of the game. There are times when I wish I could just be settled. But I feel like I tried that and like a top that’s too tight; it just didn’t feel comfortable.
Below are a couple of photos from Hong Kong. Since it was once a British colony, they drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road – there are some streets that tell people which way to look so they won’t get run over. I know, such a tourist.