I’ve been back in Toronto for a month now and it’s good to be back where all my family and friends are. Montreal is a great city, but I never felt like I belonged there. If I’m being honest, I wanted to teach ESL overseas because it seemed like the best way for me to get out of the freelancing business and out of Montreal. I was getting desperate. The isolation, the loneliness, and the frustration of freelancing had gotten to me and I needed to make a move. Toronto was just supposed to be a temporary stay while I found my first ESL contract.
But getting a teaching contract is not as easy as I was made to believe. I thought that a bachelor’s degree was just something that the language schools prefer to see in applicants as a way of screening them, but that’s not the case. A degree is actually part of the work visa requirements, so I’ll never be able to qualify for one. I could go to the country on a business visa, but if I did that I would actually be in the country illegally. Under a business visa you’re not allowed to earn income while you’re in the country. If my visa papers ever got checked I would end up in jail for 30 days, fined, deported, and possibly also banned from the country for up to five years. That’s a huge risk and I would be insane to take it!
I had at least a dozen Skype interviews with recruiters but I was always turned down because I dont have the requisite degree. Sometimes it was the first thing they asked me about. There was one company that offered me a contract on a business visa, but after careful consideration I turned it down for the reasons I explained above, and also because it was in Beijing; a city infamous for its apocalyptic levels of air pollution. Spending a year in a city with such horrible air quality would pose a serious threat to my health. I spent five days in Mexico City and the air quality was getting to me, what’s going to happen after a whole year in a place with much worse AQI? There are all kinds of respiratory diseases that I could end up with. Again, that’s a risk I’d be crazy to take.
I could, of course, teach in Latin America. I would love to live in Mexico or Columbia, but the salaries in those countries are very low; much too low to make it worth my while when I’m trying to pay debts and save enough for things like retirement, vacations, and a car.
In the end, I decided to abandon the whole idea because it just isn’t going to work out, and besides; I’m happy being back in Toronto, so why mess with a good thing?
It was always Plan B to seek out full time employment as a copywriter or editor, and that’s what I’m doing now. One way or another, I’m getting out of the freelancing business and in Toronto I can find a permanent job because this is where most of the jobs are in my field. Montreal had no opportunities, no future for me at all, but in Toronto anything is possible. I made a new resume, and I’m applying to things every day. It’s just a matter of time until I can put my freelancing days behind me once and for all.