I shaved off my beard yesterday. I look remarkably young again.
I’m doing close to 30 hours a week at the moment, saving for my planned exit from teaching at the end of May. I wasn’t this busy a few months ago; back in December I was puttering along at about 20. Twenty to thirty – does it make a difference? It does.
I find that while I can do three or four hours a day without strain, five or six is tiring, and seven or eight is exhausting. I’m not sure it’s possible to be a great teacher after the fifth hour of lessons – you just want to get it all finished (I’m not sure I’m ever a great teacher, while we’re on the subject, but my virtues are most apparent in the first five hours of classes a day). On twenty hours a week, I did four hours five days a week, leaving me with vast swathes of free time, and with largely untouched energy reserves for that free time. I found it relatively easy to wake up early, write, then read during the afternoon – perhaps also find time to study Spanish. I seem to remember September to December as a really productive time, a time when my ability level was improving too.
(It’s not really about finding time, but finding energy. If you have the power, it’s just a question of excusing yourself from other people for an hour and working through book 14 of the Odyssey. The problem is on 5-6 teaching hours a day, plus travelling between classes, it gets a little harder to keep making those acts of free will.)
However, financially too, 20 to 30 is a huge jump. Lets say you live in Taipei, and make 700 NT an hour after tax. Let’s say you spend 12,000 NT a month on rent, spend 20,000 a month on living, and blow an extra 5,000 each month on unnecessary stuff such as new translations of the Odyssey. Therefore you work approx. 80 hours a month and make 56,000. You spend 37,000, and thus save 19,000 NT each month (around 600 US). That saving figure sounds a little high to me… but anyway, what if instead you do 30 hours a week? You work approx. 120 hours a month, making 84,000 NT, and even if your higher stress level forces you to waste an additional 5,000 NT a month on cakes, you end up saving considerably more: 84 – 42 = 42,000. Saving well over a thousand US dollars a month is nothing to sneer at.
So, it’s possible to save a lot teaching English, but you need to work hard at it. I’m finding it harder to call myself a writer during this current saving money drive – I am more like someone who just reads a lot and fine tunes a few paragraphs each morning.
My dream, my plan is coming closer too. A friend recently suggested a suprising new destination, which I am very seriously considering: Syria. How this can fit in with my other plans, I’m not sure. More information soon.