This week marks the third instalment of High Heels & a Backpack’s interview series with wanderlusting women around the globe who are teaching English as they travel. This week, I spoke to April from British Columbia, Canada who is currently living in Mexico with her fiancé where she teaches English at a Languages School. Hopefully April’s Q&A will shed some light on what it’s like teaching English in Mexico for any of you considering a move to the region.
What it’s Like Teaching English in… Mexico!
Where are you teaching English?
I am currently teaching English in Metepec, Mexico. It’s the capital of the State of Mexico and super close to Mexico City.
How long have you been teaching there for?
I haven’t been teaching here for very long. It’s just been about three months or so.
How did you find your teaching position?
I’m lucky. My fiancé is from here in Mexico and he and his family suggested that I apply to teach English there. In fact his sister has been taking French classes there as well.
What is your working environment like?
My work environment is very laid back and friendly. I work in a language school that is not solely for teaching English but for teaching many different languages. My boss understands that a lot of language teachers want mostly part-time work so they can have lots of time to explore as well.
What is daily life like in Mexico?
Daily life here in Mexico is totally dependent on where in the country you live. I am currently living with my fiancé and his family in Lerma (another city in the State of Mexico) and we are a little more secluded from the sky scrapers and bustling city life of Mexico City.
Since I just work part-time a typical day for me includes teaching a class or two in the morning, visiting a few museums throughout the day (there are way too many wonderful museums to choose from here) and then either heading back home to watch a movie and eat or heading back to the school to teach another class. The city and surrounding areas are so huge and getting from place to place can take a long time. Fortunately my fiancé and his family drive me everywhere (again I’m very lucky). Traffic can be a complete disaster sometimes but the people, the mouth-watering food, the museums and historical sites like the Pyramids of Teotihuacán for example, make it all worth while.
Did you have any teaching experience or qualifications prior to making the move?
I have been studying and taking my TEFL Certification courses online for some time now through Coursera. They offer classes from accredited universities for much cheaper than it would be to take classes in person. While I would have loved the experience of taking in person classes it just wasn’t right for my budget. I am currently part-way through this program and am working diligently on it but I was able to secure my job without having fully completed the course. I do not make much money and part of the reason for that is that I am not yet fully certified. However I did not take this job for the money I took it for the experience so I am very grateful to be where I am.
Have you experienced any culture shock?
Yes, I experienced a bit of culture shock when I first got here. Even though I have been to different parts of Mexico on six or seven separate occasions and even visited Mexico City briefly last year, I still experienced some cultures shock. My main reasons for culture shock were the traffic and the food. The traffic, especially in the city, is absolutely insane. Everyone has the right of way and no one has the right of way all at the same time. Nobody signals to switch lanes. Hell, sometimes there are no “lanes”.
I am moving here indefinitely next year with my fiancé and he keeps saying I need to learn how to drive here but after four months I am still not sure I will ever be able to. The food here is absolutely amazing and delicious! The only reason I experienced culture shock due to food is simply because Mexicans eat a ton of fibre (aka beans everywhere). I have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) so changing my diet suddenly when I got here just didn’t agree with my body too well. I ended up getting used to the diet, though, and Mexican food is now one of my favorite ethnic cuisines.
What has been your greatest experience while teaching in Mexico?
My greatest experience while teaching here in Mexico was getting engaged! My boyfriend of a year and half popped the question on July 2nd in Chapultepec Park (right outside Mexico City’s famous Anthropology Museum). The park is a beautiful lush green forest where he took me to find a quiet spot, take some photos and pop the question! We celebrated afterwards with a trip to Nueve Nueve, a beautiful restaurant with bright flavors and a surrounding garden.
What piece of advice would you give to those considering teaching in Mexico that you wish that you had been told?
To people who are considering teaching in Mexico I would say it’s best to save up some money, move here and then find a job. Don’t stress yourself out trying to find a job online before you get here. I tried doing this and all I got was stress and little to no interest. Once I got here, I got a job at the second place I applied to. They were happy that I was almost certified but more so that I am a native English speaker. There is a big demand for English teachers here and you will find something! Just make sure that you wait until you get here because no one will want to hire you without meeting you first.
What opportunities has living in Mexico given you to travel?
Living in Lerma, so close to Mexico City, has given me so many opportunities to travel. I think I have had extra travel opportunities as well since I have been staying with my fiancé and his family. I am so thankful to be staying with them, especially since they are locals. They have taken me to places I would not have known existed. We have gone all over Mexico City and visited over seven different Mexican states. I cannot count how many cities or Pueblos Magicos (Magic Towns) we have been to. If you decide to come and live here I urge you to make friends with locals. Whether they are your neighbors, your students, people who work at your favorite cafe, or wherever it may be. Make friends with locals. The people here are absolutely wonderful, will likely show you around and allow you to practice your Spanish as well!
What do you love most about the country?
My three favorite things about the country (sorry I can’t pick just one) are the people, the food, and the weather. Like I said above, the people here are super friendly and very hospitable. The food is super delicious. If you visit you will likely eat your weight in tacos, mole, enchiladas and my favorite, tlacoyos. The weather in Mexico City is can be kind of temperamental. We are at a pretty high altitude here so it rains a lot and is not as hot as coastal cities. However, when the sun comes out, it comes out strong and as someone who loves soaking up the rays, I am a big fan of Mexico.
Any parting advice for working as a TEFL teacher overseas?
Don’t spend all your time working, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore!
Get TEFL Certified!
If you have any further questions about teaching English in Mexico, or you are considering a move and would like more guidance, you can reach out to April via her blog. You can also follow her adventures on Instagram here.
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Are you a travelling wonder woman teaching English in an interesting location somewhere around the world and would like to be a part of the TEFL series? If you would like to share your story, please email me at: Melissa@highheelsandabackpack.com