Looking for an insane job abroad, I made my way to Colombia, Bogota to be precise. I made a list of the local schools, and armed with my CELTA qualification, I went around asking each one if they had any vacancies. After a week or so, I received four job offers. With it being the fastest developing country in South America, there is a huge demand for English teachers in Colombia, so there is plenty of opportunity. I met people who held a TEFL qualification but no degree, and they were able to find jobs too. Even though I found a job easily enough after arriving, it may be more sensible to secure a job before you arrive in order to better prepare for the trip.
Business English is especially popular, and with Bogota being a hub for major businesses such as Siemens, this is likely what you may be doing. The job I accepted was at International House teaching Business English. The Business English students wanted classes both before and after work, so my schedule was 6-8am and 6-8pm. The early starts were tough at the beginning but you adjust pretty quickly. Initially, I lived in the La Candelaria, and even though it’s a tourist area it can be dangerous, especially early in the morning. My friend was robbed at 5.30am, and from that point onward he made sure to bring his umbrella for some sort of protection. For extra safety I’d suggest living in the Chapinero, especially for those early mornings.
This insane job abroad, is for sure is one of the less taxing ones out there. Working a schedule of four hours per day (minus a couple of days off) meant that I earned a wage which was decent enough to live off. The pay was roughly $1,200 a month and by only spending $220 per month on rent, it was a comfortable lifestyle for sure. Bear in mind that the salary will vary depending on the school, ranging anywhere from $600 to $1,500 per month. Unless you work for an international school or British Council (PGCE/CELTA required), it will be hard to secure a full-time contract, so the work will be mainly cash-in-hand.
This again will vary from job to job but depending on the school, they should be able to organise this for you. Mine sorted everything out on my behalf.
One thing about Latin America is that Latin people are extremely friendly and very welcoming. This will include inviting you to a mandatory meal with the family, which in my experience happened several times. In terms of going out, the nightlife (Zona Rosa) is very vibrant and you will without a doubt make Colombian friends if you put yourself out there enough.
The setting of Bogota is stunning, located at the bottom of a large ridge of Cerros (hills). If you take a cable car to the top of Montserrate, you will be able to look out over Bogota and see how flat and vast the city is. There is one large park and plenty of small ones to get your fill of greenery. In the colonial part of the La Canderlaria the architecture is beautiful and each part of the city has its own unique feel. Culturally, there are lots of museums including Botero museum and Gold museum, both of which provide an incite into the city’s history and identity.
Bogota does have its dark side however, as it can be dangerous. My friend got robbed whilst strolling around in the La Candelaria, which can be a real hotspot for robbers as they know this is where the tourists are. Groups of young kids with knives can be seen after dark and will corner you to ask for money. Do not resist! The government has invested in security in the area and now you’ll see police with dogs on many of the street corners. Just make sure not to take valuables out with you unless you really have to, and perhaps put the bulk of your money in your sock – at least that’s what I did.
Colombia is extremely varied in terms of landscape, climate and cultures. From the Pacific coast in Choco where the feeling is extremely raw and untouched, to the white sands of Santa Marta where there are more tourists but has a complete paradise feel. Each city has its charms, and as you’ll earn a decent amount money while working here, you’ll easily be able to get around and see it for yourself. After a troubled past, the country has come a long way and seen dramatic growth, which has in turn meant an abundance of teaching jobs and other opportunities.
For more information regarding teaching in Colombia, this is a useful link to check out.