If I stay, I’ll live blithely, comfortably and contentedly for another year. If I go, I’ll most likely find myself working more hours for less money, bereft of the doorstep delights I had previously been privileged to, in a place that I probably don’t like very much.
The choice is simple right? Well you’re bang wrong, actually. I pride myself on putting happiness before everything and that is something I have endeavoured to do here in Spain since I arrived two and a half years ago. But sometimes the demons get to you. For me, it’s usually around the end of summer time that this happens. Here is the long and short of it from last year’s encounter:
Demon (in rasping, malevolent voice): “Go home!” Get to London and find a REAL job!”
Me: “Piss off demon! I have an excellent life – why on earth would I want to trade it all in for a miserable and poverty-stricken one in a country that is renowned for bad weather and a job market that is almost impenetrable?”
Demon: “Because if you don’t, you’ll fall behind. You’re bound to go home EVENTUALLY, and when you do, you’ll need to jump on the career ladder, so the sooner the better you ignorant ass!”
Me: “Rubbish! My career’s already started. I just can’t call it a living yet. In fact, I’m probably better off here than there in terms of long-term goals – teaching English abroad is a perfect accompaniment to blogging and piss-poorly paid freelance journalism. And if I moved home I’d have no other skills to cash in on anyhow, unless I actually taught English as a foreign language in England. And where’s the reward in that?”
Demon: “A fair point, but a move back to the UK is more likely to throw up random job opportunities that could prove life-changing. There will be none of that here; just more of the same, and that’s not going to get you anywhere is it?
Me: “Perhaps you’re right. I can’t live like this forever can I?”
Demon: “No! And there’s Starbucks in London. And that means Banana Java frappuccinos. EVERY. DAY.”
Me: “Oh bloody hell alright! This will be my last year, then I’ll go back”.
Demon: “Do you promise?”
Me: “I promise. Now do one. I’ve been doing my Smigel voice for five minutes now and people are beginning to stare”
Demon: “Yes master”
Five months later, and that promise to self is, yet again, looking rather like it’s on the verge of being broken. It’s an interminable cycle of mind-changing, and it’s always about this time of year that my expat-life loving side gives voice.
Co-incidentally, it’s about this time of year that there is a sudden drop in temperature and influx of various ‘puente’ weekends (long weekends lasting up to four days which are plentiful in spring). But if I look at the bigger picture, I really do have an enviable lifestyle here; a job that pays sufficiently; a social life that encompasses both English and Spanish; a ski-resort not one hour away; beaches not one hour the other way; free food with every beer in almost any bar; and a city typified by a unique cosmopolitan ambience and truly remarkable architecture.
Yet the Smigel within still lives, and has an incredibly annoying habit of sneaking to the surface in order to throw my mind into disarray just as I think I’ve made a final decision. By staying here, am I simply delaying the inevitable? Or am I doing the right thing by pursuing, however remote it may currently be, a career in freelance journalism, whilst teaching English as a means to an end?
My Dad wants me to get into ‘proper teaching’ back home.
“It’s a decent, modestly-paid and important job which offers the stability that a lot of other career paths don’t. Plus, you’re already a teacher, so you’ll already have an advantage there, and think of all the time off! PAID time off!”
As a life-long supporter of the Tories, his stance on the matter surprises me if I’m honest. Then again, he is no stranger to the trials and tribulations potentially suffered by those choosing a self-employed career path. Five years ago, his own company went into liquidation and marked the beginning of a brief, troubling spell of uncertainty in our home. Fortunately, he was quickly able to carve himself a new job at a suitable corporate firm, owing to his knowledge and expertise in his line of work.
It’s a chilling thought though. The last thing I want is a career forever endangered by the prospect of sudden unemployment – especially when I am older, with more mouths to feed. So obviously I can see where Dad is coming from – if I choose to teach full time, for my entire career, then all these potential hazards will be significantly reduced (in theory). And he’s right about the time off. That’s certainly a perk not a lot of other jobs have, and one which would allow me to continue travelling during the summer months. Moreover, I do actually enjoy teaching. I love my job, and I love building a rapport with students of all ages: kids, teenagers or adults.
However, I can’t help but think that if I were to devote my career to full-time teaching in the UK, I would forever yearn for something else. Something more exciting and less rigid, where things could go wrong, but at the same time could open up doors that would otherwise remain closed for an entire lifetime. That said, it is in no way my intention to disparage teaching as a profession; the demands of the job are hugely misapprehended, and that old saying ‘those who can, do; those who can’t, teach’ can go frig themselves off to an episode of The Apprentice. Try managing a class of 7 year olds – one with ADHD, one that cries over a hidden pencil case, one that terrorizes the others, one with epilepsy (better have that insulin injection at the ready!), one that never stops grassing on the other kids and several that scream everything they say – for an hour and a half, alone, successfully, and then tell me your fucking antediluvian adage.
Anyhow, I digress. The truth is I still don’t know what I’m going to do next year. It’s either stay in Granada, listen to the demon and begrudgingly return home or set up shop somewhere else in Spain simply for a change of scenery. Barcelona is tempting me.
Do any other bloggers out there often find themselves in a similar predicament? Has anyone gone home and later regretted it? Or vice-versa? What should I bloody well do!!??