Saturday, February 28, 2009
tough times in taiwan
After another short stop in Bangkok to get some appropriate dress clothes, we were off to Taiwan. Our original plan goes like this: we come to Taiwan to Teach English. This is one of the few places that only requires a college-diploma and proof of citizenship of an English-speaking country (other places require an English-teaching certificate among other things). Compared to other Asian places where foreigners come to make a buck, Taiwan has the best earning-to-living ratio, which makes for some good savings. We planned to work for a year, save up close to $2000/month each, and have a little nest egg to spend on graduate school (and possibly have some left over).
Our expectations slowly lost their vigor as each day of our job search went by. No one calling us back, jobs filled the moment they're posted, schools offering way less than we were expecting. What was happening here? Well, we ran into a few expats who have been around Taipei for a while, and they gave us the scoop. Since the Korean currency has lost more that 1/3 of its value against the dollar, many of the expats in Korea were coming to Taiwan to teach. So, the market is flooded with all of these experienced teachers coming from Korea, which gives us first-timers a disadvantage, having no experience. Not only that, but the Taiwan economy is shrinking, which means less rich people to send their kids to private English schools. On top of all of this, the Taiwan dollar was also losing its value against the dollar just in the time we've been here. Since the beginning of the year it has lost one percent against the dollar each week. Which is a bad indicator for us, because if it keeps trending in this direction, we would sign up to make $20/hour, but by the end of the year it will be more like $12. Ugh.
So, all of these things we couldn't have known (they all happened in the months while we were traveling) are affecting our plans and thwarting us! Global economic crisis!!! *shakes fist*
Ah well, we aren't ones to wallow for long, we are do-ers! So we hopped a (relatively) cheap flight to San Francisco, are going to find a two-month sublet, and are going to look for jobs there. The medium-term plan is still to get into a grad program by the Fall of 2010, but I only will go to grad school if I have a significant amount of the cost saved up, as I don't think this is the best time to be taking out a bunch of debt. Now onto the Castro and the Mission, the city of Harvey Milk and the Top of the Mark and hilly streets and Full House. Ahh, my heart's already there.