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Teaching English in Guadalajara, Mexico - Alumni Q&A with Tehmina Brohi
Written by: Tehmina Brohi
Last Updated: January 14, 2021
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
New York, New York
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?
Paris, France; Durban, South Africa
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
Teaching English abroad seemed like a great way to do something that I enjoy and make some money while traveling and exploring a new place. I had had some experience teaching English to recently arrived immigrants in New York City and thought traveling and teaching would be a great way to polish and apply my existing skills.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
My Spanish was at a beginner's level. I was a little concerned about mixing in with the culture and making friends in Mexico. I also chose to go to Mexico and look for a job there rather than searching from home. Though I felt confident, I was also concerned that there was a possibility that I wouldn't find something soon enough.
I found Mexicans to be super friendly, often bilingual, and willing to help in any way they could. And finding a job wasn't too hard either. I took a couple of days to walk around the city and drop off my resume at some schools and I had an interview later that week and signed a contract the following week.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
Some family members were a bit worried. Most people were really supportive and excited. A lot of my friends were also inspired by my move.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
After some research, it was the most affordable option. I was also able to do the course online while also working full-time in NYC and saving money before I left to go to Mexico. The counselors were also really supportive in the research and enrollment process.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Course
How did you like the course?
I found the course to be very helpful. I had already used some of these skills in my previous experience teaching English but it was great to actually learn the theory and practice the ideas and tools in a class setting. The tasks and readings were helpful and very well designed. The course was challenging but not too burdensome and the teacher was always available and gave great feedback.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
I have used some of the tools and ideas from the course to supplement my teaching. Most helpful for me have been ideas around classroom management and structuring lesson plans.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Mexico in the city of Guadalajara. I wanted to go to a city that was bustling but not too big. I wanted to go somewhere where I could practice and improve my Spanish but not too far. I also wanted to go somewhere where there was a decent English teaching market. I also wanted somewhere with a small but growing local art & design scene. For these reasons, Guadalajara and Mexico made a lot of sense. And it was exactly everything I wanted.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
I have been here for six months and will stay for another three.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Instituto de Communicacion Internacional
During which months does your school typically hire?
Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?
How did you interview for this position?
What kind of Visa did you enter on?
Please explain the visa process that you went through.
The visa process for a work visa in Mexico can be quite cumbersome and bureaucratic. You have to stay on top of your paperwork and plan ahead for appointments and visits to consulates.
What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers? Please check all that apply
Native English speaker
What is the best way to apply?
Tell us about your English teaching job!
I worked really hard to save money before I left home so I was able to work only 15 hours a week. I was paid enough to live comfortably and used my savings to travel around a bit. I worked mainly for a language school and was able to pick up some private clients here and there with some networking. When looking for English teaching jobs abroad, know your priorities (how much you want to work, the schedule you want) and search around accordingly.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I booked an AirBnB for a month before I arrived in Mexico. When my AirBnB month was up, a room was free in the same house and I moved in. It's a three story house and 12 of us live here. But I only ever regularly see four people. I love the house and my roommates. People are super friendly and always invite each other to parties, dinners, breakfasts, etc.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
Cultural aspects: Guadalajara is a wonderful city! It has a lot to offer and the pace of a smaller town. Sometimes you may have to dig around a bit to find exactly what you want. For example, this city is big on Jazz and Rock/Metal. There are a lot of concerts for those genres, but its harder to find things less mainstream. There is always lots of local design fairs happening. There are plenty of City hosted events and celebrations also.
Public transportation: There is a somewhat chaotic bus system. It can be daunting at first knowing where and when to hail down buses, but once you get used to it, it's a great way to great around. Guadalajara also has a small subway system.
Food: Mexican food is delicious! Perhaps a bit harder for vegetarians to find options, but they're around. Food is cheap in restaurants and even cheaper to buy from the market and cook at home.
Expat community: I found a great community among other English teachers. I was able to have a balance of local Guadalajara friends and a group of expats. Both provide a unique experience.
Travel opportunities: It is also easy to travel from Guadalajara to surrounding towns by bus. Mexico has a great interstate bus system. You can also easily explore Central and South America from Guadalajara or by taking a quick flight to Mexico City.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
I paid 2100 pesos for rent/utilities. A bus/subway ride costs 7 pesos. A roundtrip bus ticket to a beach town four hours away is about 1000 pesos. I think anyone can live comfortably on about 6500 pesos per month.
How would you describe your standard of living?
I had a great standard of living. I was able to travel, eat out, and spend on social activities. Because I worked less, I also spent time trying to cook at home to save money.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
I think anyone can live comfortably on about 7000 pesos per month.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
If you want to teach abroad, do your research, but also throw some caution to the wind. Traveling and teaching abroad is an interesting mix of making plans but also going with the flow. I highly recommend teaching English in Mexico. Mexico is a big and diverse country. I have barely seen a sliver of it, but my experience has been lovely beyond words.
Native New Yorker, Tehmina Brohi, developed a strong love of travel while studying abroad in Paris, France, and Durban, South Africa. Seeking additional international experience and an opportunity to improve her Spanish, Tehmina earned her TEFL certification online and then headed to teach English in Guadalajara, Mexico.
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