Hello all. It’s now the end of October, and I’ve been teaching for ten weeks.
As with any major change in life, my teaching job has brought a new schedule, and many new habits, both good and bad. I’ve tried to keep in mind that each decision I make around how I spend my (now precious) free time is really a vote for a habit I will ultimately develop.
One of my biggest priorities has been exercise. I convinced my neighbor, who’s a fitness instructor at our gym, to offer classes three times a week in the mornings. So on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Mr. ThreeYear and I dutifully head over to the gym at 6:30 and work out for thirty minutes (yes, I drag him there, too).
This was the earliest time the gym offers, and the latest that would work for my schedule. I get home at 7:00 and have just a sliver of time to get myself and the kids ready for school. Little ThreeYear and I both leave at 7:30. He heads over to our neighbor’s house to walk with them to the bus stop, and I drive to school.
I have not yet settled into a running schedule I’m happy with. I run one long run on Sunday mornings and eke out one more run per week if I’m lucky. I’m still working on a more robust running schedule.
Several years ago, when I was 36, I was offered a job at my local elementary school. It was perfect for a lot of reasons: it was part-time, it was teaching kids English (which I had majored in in college), it was at my kids’ school, and it paid well.
The only problem with the job was that I wasn’t a teacher.
When I first left college and moved to Santiago, Chile, I taught English as a Second Language to adults for about a year and a half. But I’d never officially taught children in any capacity. So I would be completely changing careers, learning a new job from the ground up.
The Learning Curve is Painful
I don’t particularly like to be bad at stuff. I don’t think anybody does. In school, I was a good student who never really struggled with studying. I never learned the lesson that you have to be bad at something before you’re good at it. But when I started teaching, I had very little idea what I was doing.
I was thrown into teaching two students with no guidance and very little mentorship, so I didn’t know what I should be teaching them. Grammar? Vocabulary? Reading? Writing?
I reached out to other local ESL teachers and sat in on their classes to try and figure out what to do. One teacher recommended several books that I should buy for the classroom. I remember that she said to me, “if you could go through this book with your student before next year, that would lay a great foundation for him.”
The problem was, the book was a very basic vocabulary book. Surely there was something better I could be doing with my time than teaching him basic vocabulary?
I didn’t spend a ton of time teaching my student vocabulary from that book my first year, preferring instead to try and teach him how to write essays.
Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel.
In today’s interview, you’ll hear Dana’s story. Dana is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, teaches at a Chinese Medicine college, and runs her own coaching business: Alchemist Eating. As a long-distance eating and lifestyle coach, Dana helps people eat in a way that’s healthy, intuitive and uncomplicated. Her work combines eating, medicine and minimalism.
This interview will cover:
how Dana created a location independent career in an unlikely field
why it can make sense to change careers in your 30s
tips to eat well for less, including the foods you should buy
For the complete story of how Dana has made a location independent life, read on.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I come from a small, rural town in Maryland but lived abroad on-and-off throughout adulthood.
I’m now in my 40s but in my 20s and 30s worked as a location-independent translator, editor and writer. In that “past life,” my homes included Washington, DC, (where I completed my Master’s degree), Egypt, Thailand, and many super-temporary spots (China, Ethiopia, Lebanon and Mongolia, to name a few!).
I tended to change homes (and continents) every few years during my 20s, but then moved to Nelson, British Columbia, for Chinese Medicine school. The doctor program here is 5 years, which meant staying put! Thereafter, I spent time in Florida and Colorado, where I’m licensed as a doctor and started my own business. Until… the Chinese Medicine school invited me back to teach. I was thrilled to return to my “true home” of Nelson, where I now teach acupuncture, herbs and food therapy. I’m also helping develop the college’s upcoming nutrition program.
Have you ever dreamed of changing careers, but don’t know how to start?
I haven’t. Seriously. Except for my first few years in the workforce, I’ve always worked in marketing or sales in one capacity or another, and I had always loved it. Two years ago, this month, I was a marketing manager for a theater company. But here’s why and how, two years ago this month, I changed careers.
I really liked my marketing job. It was part-time, flexible, and the first real job I’d had in the almost-eight years since my first child had been born. I loved the autonomy, the professional identity, the praise I was getting for a job well done. Everything about the job, basically… except the summers.
See, I worked for an opera company, and the “season,” the time when we staged our three big productions, was the first week of June through the second week of August every year. During the season, my part-time job became a full-time job, and I worked nights, weekends, whenever. I was salaried, so although I could work less during the rest of the year to make up for the summer weeks, I earned exactly the same paycheck through the summer while I worked like crazy. Continue reading “Thinking of Changing Careers? Why and How I Did at 36”
Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel. I’ve interviewed some fascinating individuals who all have slightly different takes on location independence or living internationally. Recent posts include Steve from Think, Save, Retire, Mrs. Adventure Rich, and Mavis, an international teacher.
Guest posters will be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances and how they got to the life they’re living now.
The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved one or the other, so we can learn more. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Heather, a twenty-something ESOL teacher who lives in New Hampshire.
I know Heather from my Master’s program and we have a lot in common, which is why I asked her if she would share her story on the blog. Heather moved to Chile after college, just like I did, and taught English as a Second Language, just like I did, and fell in love with Chile (easy to do!) just like I did. And we both live in New Hampshire and attend the same Master’s program in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). But, our stories are a bit different, and probably more importantly, we’re about a decade apart in age. So Heather is at a different place in life than I am, which is cool, because she can do things like introduce me to SnapChat. Okay, without further ado, I give you Heather!
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I’m from Sandwich, New Hampshire. [Laurie: I love that town name]. I have a B.A. in Italian Studies from Connecticut College.
How did you make the decision to move internationally?
I was finishing up college and was set on working abroad as an English teacher. I had done the CELTA course between freshman and sophomore year and wanted to get a job where I could be the principal teacher since previously I had volunteered or tutored (CELTA stands for Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults–it’s affiliated with the University of Cambridge ESOL examinations). I didn’t apply for any US jobs and put all my energy into looking for something abroad. I figured this was a perfect time to do it since I would be graduating and needed a break from school. Also, I wanted to confirm that TESOL was my career path before jumping into grad school. Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Heather”
Hi folks! Today I am absolutely delighted to share a new series with you. I’ll be featuring people who are either location independent, have gotten international jobs, and/or who continuously travel. They’ll be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances.
The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved the life, so we can learn more.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to the first person featured in this new series. Mavis is a reader who reached out to me because, as she said, “You guys are on the same path that we are, but opposite! I’m an international teacher, and have worked in Bolivia, Honduras and now Saudi Arabia with my husband and two boys. We have taught overseas for several years and are hoping to achieve FI in the near future so that we can have location permanence for a while.” Mavis and her husband are both teachers, and have taught at international schools all over the world. She’s already been a great resources to me, pointing me in the right direction of the best recruiters and asking any questions I have about teaching internationally.
I asked if she would share her fascinating story, and I know you’ll be as inspired as I was. So, without further ado, Mavis’s story!
How International Teaching Has Provided My Family a Strong Foundation for FI
My husband and I turned to international teaching when we were fresh out of graduate school. We were young, certified teachers, underemployed, adventurous, and ready to travel and experience the world. We were introduced to the idea through a passing conversation with a colleague who had taught at a school in Taiwan. Instantly, the scheming and planning began.
After attending the AASSA Recruiting Fair, we found jobs at the American International School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Our original plan was to teach in Honduras for two years, travel, and come home to Canada to settle into our lives. After these two years finished, there were still no teaching jobs available in Ontario near our family and friends, and we were not thrilled about the idea of moving back in with our parents as a married 28 year old couple. We decided to do two more years abroad, this time in Saudi Arabia, in order to save money, gain more experience and see a different part of the world. Two years soon became three, and now, after a few great job opportunities and adding two new little boys to our family, we have now been in Saudi Arabia for six years. In total, we have been teaching overseas for eight years, and have stopped making future promises of returning home to our families 😉Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Mavis”
Why would I continue to work when we move abroad? Wouldn’t that limit our location independence? First of all, our plan is to move to one specific international location for a couple of years. We’d really like to expose our kids to new cultures, languages, and parts of the world. We do want to enroll them in a formal school, however. A teaching position gives us many of the benefits we’re looking for. Continue reading “Letters of Intent”
Location independent means different things to different people. Some families, like Tsh from Art of Simple, take a year to travel around the world, spending days or weeks at each location. They’re free to travel because they can work remotely from anywhere.
Travel bloggers like Goats on the Road are permanent travelers, and spend months traveling around different continents, or house sit for a few months at a time between trips. They finance their trips through the income from blogging.
I know Our Next Life was strongly influenced by Robert and Robin Charlton, authors of How to Retire Early. In their book and blog, they spell out how they take frequent long trips throughout the year and return to their home base, a condo in Boulder, Colorado. They saved up a nest egg and retired early and now live off the proceeds.
My family is on a journey to become location independent in three years. We plan to leave New England and give our family the opportunity to travel together. I can teach English while we’re there, which would give us health insurance and free schooling for the kids, or we might find remote jobs. So today, let’s contemplate moving to Singapore!
When my friend moved to Singapore a few years ago, I admit to not even knowing where it was, or that it was both a city and a country.
I had to do some quick Wiki research to figure out that Singapore is a young country (only just over 50 years old) and is on the tip of the Malay peninsula, just below Thailand and Malaysia.
Lee Kuan Yew became the country’s powerful prime minister, implementing strict rules to unite the country’s three distinct ethnic groups—Chinese, Malasians, and Indians from the Tamil region. It’s infamous for one of its rules—no chewing gum in public. According to our friends, these rules were necessary because Yew had inherited a country of people with little education and had to institutionalize polite behavior, so that he could successfully modernize the country. And he did. Singapore went from a third-world to a first-world country in a single generation.
Last week, I was offered a new gig as a part-time ESOL Teacher. This gig will allow me to work in two schools for a total of about 30 hours maximum per week. But is it a good idea? Does it help us with our three year goals?
A New Gig Helps Me Mind the Gap
Personal finance bloggers talk all the time about the ways to increase your net worth—spend less or make more.
Some advocate spending less, some show you how to make more. Some, like Afford Anything, talk about both—minding the gap between how much you spend and how much you earn, and getting it as large as possible.
My husband is the main income earner of our family. I, on the other hand, work only 15 hours a week. But part of my job is making sure I’m here before and after school, taking kids to appointments, and making sure life runs smoothly for the Three Year Experiment family. The more I’m at home, the smoother things run. But I’ve also found I have to work. I go a little crazy if I don’t.