Teaching English in Queretaro, Mexico: Alumni Q&A with Stacey Robison

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What is your citizenship? 
United States

What city and state are you from?      
Charlotte, North Carolina

How old are you?       

What is your education level and background?
Bachelor's Degree

Have you traveled abroad in the past?        
I studied abroad

If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study? 
Costa Rica

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I have always wanted to perfect my Spanish, so I figured that the best way to do this would be to live in a Spanish-speaking country. I was right! Living in Mexico has improved my Spanish way more than any class I took.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
Was I going to make enough money to live off of?!

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
To be honest, my parents were extremely supportive. However, I think now my friends and family just want me to come home! (I'm not sure how to explain to them that the travel bug has bitten me.)

Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy? 
I decided to get certified because I knew I would have better luck in finding a job if I was. I always knew that immediately after graduation I would want to pick up and go so without extra time to take classes or money to just move for the course, I knew I needed a flexible and affordable option.

Which TEFL certification course did you take?                
Online TEFL Class

How did you like the course?
I enjoyed the online TEFL course because although there were due dates, the structure was flexible enough that I could work part time and hold a full course load at my university.

My instructor always gave helpful feedback and I never felt like our assignments were a waste of time. I have a hard time when I start a class and students are given busy work, but the TEFL course assignments all had a learning purpose.

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?       
I'm not sure how I would have gotten my position without my certificate. Even though I am a college grad, my majors were not related to education at all.

Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I am teaching English in Queretaro, Mexico- This city has tons of historical and cultural importance to Mexico. Not to mention, it is one of the safest cities in the country. Plus, I decided only to apply to Spanish speaking countries for my first job.

How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
I have currently been in Mexico for 10 months and I don't have plans on leaving anytime soon.

How did you secure your English teaching job?
I applied on an ESL job search website.

What school, company, or program are you working for?
I work for Bridge Institute School of English.

How did you get your work visa? If you didn't get a work visa, please elaborate on working under the table without a work visa.
I am currently in the process of working with Migration about my work visa. The federal law changed in November 2012, so all immigrants are having to do a lot more work just to get their temporary work visa. I had to leave the country to renew my tourist visa (which in Mexico is 180 days). Working under the table isn't a problem here. I am paid in cash and there isn't a police force to throw illegal English teachers out of the country.

Tell us about your English teaching job!
I teach 8 hours a day in a split shift meaning I can teach 8 one-hour long classes between 7 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4 p.m.-9 p.m. as well as 4 hour shifts every other Saturday. Some of the teachers at my school work part time in the school and part time teaching business English in local industries.

I am paid a decent amount and because life is so cheap down here, I am able to save a little bit. The majority of my students are working professionals (a TON of engineers) but I do have a few middle and high school students. The school is closed for the last two weeks of December as well as any national holidays.

Teach English in Mexico TEFL

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
My first living situation was with an older woman. I rented a room in her house and my boss found that for me. Right now, I live with two of my students and have a total of 4 roommates. The newspaper and internet adds made it very easy to find a place to live, but since I knew there was an open room in their house, I simply asked and they said yes!

Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc. about your country:
The public transit system isn't the best, but at least it exists. The city grew faster than was planned so right now, cars are the best ways to get long distances. However, the city has a large center, making it convenient to walk or take a bus or taxi to get where you want.

It's a young, lively city, so there is always something happening at night, whether your up for a concert, a quiet dinner, salsa dancing or even some drinks in a cantina. The city is also very international. There are several large universities and international corporations that attract foreigners from all over.

What are your monthly expenses?
I have never spent more than my salary, which is less than half of the average accountant or engineer here in town. After only 10 months, I've nearly enough to buy myself a used car!

  • My average rent/utilities ~ 1000 pesos (although living expenses can vary a lot in this city!)
  • Food ~ 500-700 pesos (if I'm buying dinner for two as well as groceries)
  • Social activities ~ 200 pesos
  • Transportation ~ I walk everywhere!
  • Phone ~ However many texts/calls I make which usually aren't very many.
How would you describe your standard of living?

I live extremely comfortably. Not like with Mom and Dad, but I definitely am not struggling to get by!

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
I think everyone has their own level of comfort, but in Mexico, it takes a lot less to meet this standard! 

What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
DO IT! Just go. If you are nervous, try to sign a shorter contract (usually they are about 6 months) but you will learn more about yourself in those 6 months than you thought. If your goal is just to buy time, learn a language or travel, it is so worth it! I love the Mexican culture. I would definitely recommend teaching here, but everyone is different. For example, I'm not exactly in love with the idea of traveling to teach in Asia but everyone I know that has gone tells me it is absolutely amazing!


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