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Arequipa, Peru English Teaching Q&A with Savannah Benefield
Written by: Savannah Benefeld
Last Updated: July 19, 2021
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
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?
All Across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica
If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?
Melbourne, Australia, and Barcelona, Spain
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I knew after I graduated, I wanted to travel, but I needed a job. I got my minor in Child and Family Development as I have always enjoyed working with kids. I've also always enjoyed meeting and learning about different cultures. Therefore, I figured teaching abroad would be the best option!
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
Finding a job after moving abroad
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
My family and friends are use to me traveling, so they were very excited for me. My mother was a bit concerned about me going to South America on my own, but she was always supportive.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
When I was doing research on different TEFL programs, I quickly realized the International TEFL Academy had the most information and staff willing to answer all my questions. It was great having someone around to answer my questions and check in on how my research was going.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Peru - Arequipa TEFL Course
How did you like the course?
I really enjoyed the course! My instructor was extremely knowledgeable and was great at explaining complicated grammar topics. We had a daily journal and two research papers that were due at the end of the course. My TEFL course was taught at a language school, so I had the opportunity to ask other teachers questions and get to know them before my student teaching.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
My TEFL training helped immensely. I would constantly be looking back on my notes and reaching out to other teachers from my class for ideas. It gave me numerous ideas for games and different techniques for teaching class material.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I chose to teach English in Peru in the city of Arequipa because the school where I received my TEFL certification had an open position right as my course ended, so I decided to stay.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
I stayed for a total of four months, one for my certification and one for teaching.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Extreme Learning Center
During which months does your school typically hire?
Every month. Because of the new visa laws in Peru, they have a high turnover rate.
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.
I booked a flight to Peru, walked off my plane and told customs I wanted to stay for six months and they gave me a 180 day tourist visa. Peru has recently changed their tourist visa laws as of 2016, so you can only stay in the country for 180 days within a 360 day period, but as always make sure to check for yourself what the current laws are!
What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers? Please check all that apply
What is the best way to apply?
Tell us about your English teaching job!
The average teacher works six hours Monday - Friday and three hours of kids' classes Saturday morning. If you're good at budgeting, like cooking your own food, and don't like to go out every weekend, you can save a little money each month but generally teachers spend what they earn. Extreme is a language school, so most classes are in the afternoon once students get out of school/work, but the majority of students are 15-22 years old.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
When I decided to stay in Arequipa, I started talking to other teachers at the school while I was still taking my TEFL course. Pretty soon I was in contact with a couple teachers who were leaving at the end of the month, and I had my new apartment! I had my own room and shared the apartment with two other new teachers.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
The food in Peru is by far some of the best food I've had while in South America. There was a grocery store and local market 10 minutes away from my house and everything is in walking distance to the city center, school, and my apartment, so I rarely took public transportation. There was usually an event going on in the city center plaza on the weekends or even just in the afternoon. There is an expat community in Arequipa, but the teachers at the school formed a pretty tight knit group and would help the new teachers. The night life in Arequipa is pretty good and in a safe area near the city center; however, a drink is the equivalent of one hours' wage for teachers.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
The average rent for foreigners is 600 soles which is about $175 USD, but my apartment (and most others if you speak Spanish) was only 475 soles, so only about $140 USD.
I'd spend about 400 soles (about $120 USD) a month on food, groceries, and eating out, but I generally cooked my own food. I know several other teachers who spent about double that because they ate out all the time.
I rarely spent money on transportation as everything is in walking distance except for the occasional taxi home which I could split with my roommates and it came out to about $1.
Phone plans are also very inexpensive and I would spend... maybe $10 a month.
Day trips on the weekend were possible to the beach (a very long day) or nearby towns, and as long as you travel with friends and pack snacks, it can be very cheap!
How would you describe your standard of living?
Very well. I had a private bedroom, hot water, fully stocked kitchen, but did have to hand wash and hang dry my laundry.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
The average teachers' wage teaching three classes a month is enough for someone to live comfortably. However, if you want to travel, enjoy eating out, and going out on the weekends, it would be a bit tight.
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're considering teaching abroad, I 100% recommend it! It's exhilarating arriving to a new country with a new culture, language, and in search of new experiences and friends. Peru was a wonderful country to teach in! The food was great, the people are very nice, and it's one of the cheaper countries in South America.
Savannah knew after she graduated, she wanted to travel but needed a job. With a minor in Child and Family Development, Savannah has always enjoyed working with kids. She also enjoys exploring new cultures. So teaching English abroad was a natural fit!
Want to Learn More About Teaching English Abroad?
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