Murdo, South Dakota

on Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Both of these photos I took a few years ago just west of Murdo, South Dakota, along I-90.

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Teaching English as a Second Language

on Friday, March 24, 2006

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be, at least here in Italy. I recently read in a forum on My Space, that in Japan for example English Teachers are better paid, but what are the working conditions like? That is not the case here in Italy. At the moment I am only doing private lessons, not working for a school, and I am charging 15 Euro an hour, which would equal about $18 an hour. You may think, “That’s not bad at all, for working from home”. Hate to burst your bubble, but I bust my butt for that, there’s the time I spend planning the lessons, money spent on ink and paper for my printer/photocopier, putting advertisements on the internet offering private English lessons. Then private students are very unreliable, they tend to cancel their lesson at last minute, thus leaving an empty time slot that could have been filled by another student, and of course unpaid. That's IF they call to cancel, there are many a people who don't even have the respect to call or text message to say they're unable to make it.

Then there are the private schools/companies that offer English classes. Here in Italy, many schools/companies are run by the British, and tend to hire or prefer a person with a British accent to other accents. Then they also ask for a TEFL or CELTA certificate, which proves you have taken a course to teach English. CELTA stands for Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The British Council in Milan, Italy, charges 1,800 Euro, or about $2,160 for this course. Just for a certificate to say you can teach English, and it’s not even guaranteed you’ll be able to find a job. When you do find a job teaching English, don’t expect a lot of hour, at least not to be able to live off of, and be prepared to run your booty off, going from one company/school to the next. In the area I live in, near Milan, average teachers pay is about 12 Euro an hour, net.

Some companies/schools will compensate you for mileage if you have to drive to a company to teach a class, but that doesn’t happen too often, and if you are compensated, doesn’t amount to much. Especially considering here gas is so over taxed. Currently gas here is about $5.54 a GALLON.

Racism in hiring, does it happen here in Italy? You bet it does! If you’re from an English speaking country is always a plus. But if you’re anything other than Caucasian, you unfortunately will have a harder time finding a job teaching English, or anything else for that matter. English schools/companies tend to discriminate less as far as gender and marital status but does happen in other sectors/fields.

For more on Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) here in Italy, here’s a good article by Sebastian Cresswell-Turner in The telegraph.

**July 17th 2008 Update - I'm STILL teaching English. Have been since 2003. Does it pay any better than it did over two years ago? No. I'm up to almost 20 hours a week and earn about the same pay as a full-time blue collar. You may think "Ok I could live like that, working part-time on full-time wages". I bust my butt for those wages and that's providing all my students show up. Check out my post from this year about teaching.

I mentioned in the original post that gas was $5.54 a gallon. As of today it is $9.11 a US gallon. That's an increase of $3.57 in a little over two years. Partly because of the price of oil and also in part due to the decline of the United States Dollar. Welcome to 2008.

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Male Dominated Society

on Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I am tired of living in such a male dominated society. I feel like I am stuck in the Dark Ages, or at least back in the ‘50’s, the days of Joan Clever. I actually miss being in a business/corporate environment. I want to be able to make something of myself, not be just a housewife or office clerk/paper pusher with no opportunity for advancement. Also, hate being discriminated against because I am married and am of “child bearing” age, so therefore I must be planning on taking time off to have a baby, when in actuality my husband and I are NOT planning on having any children. From what I have heard, this is common practice in Europe, as mentioned in a previous post.

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Business Plan Update

I am a little frustrated right now. Remember a few posts back I had mentioned in a previous post about our potential business partner was SUPPOSED to find out some information for our business plan? Well, found out over the weekend, in not so many words, actually no words, that he is backing out, not wanting to be a part of the project. I sent him two emails and received no response, and has not contacted my husband either. My husband thinks it has to do with this guy’s wife, that she is unwilling to move. She is comfortable right where she is, unwilling to step out of her comfort zone, not wanting to try something new and is too lazy to learn a new language. So now we’re back to square two, needing to find someone with experience in this field, which one would think shouldn’t be too hard here, but finding a person willing to move to the United States is another thing. Also still needing to find financing (don’t forget the Make a Donation Button!).

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Hell Beer

on Friday, March 17, 2006

Went to the store today to buy beer for my husband. Found a beer that is actually called Hell Beer, produced here in Italy for one of the big shopping centers, Auchan. Now why the name Hell was chosen is beyond me. One of my students was telling me yesterday that there is a snowboarding clothing line brand called Bastard. Their slogan, "Proudly made by those lazy Italians".

Who actually comes up with these product/brand names? Do they actually understand what their meanings are in English, or is it just something that is fashionable?

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Riot in Milan

on Wednesday, March 15, 2006

There was a riot in Milan on March 12th, in protest at a rally by the Fascist Tricolour Flame party, which is allied with the centre-right coalition, led by Silvio Berlusconi. The riot was on Corso Buenos Aires, which is one of the major streets in Milan, near Milano Centrale train station. The mob of 300 people vandalized shop windows, set fire to cars and mopeds detonated nail bombs.

What is this country coming to?!?!?!? Italian elections are less than a month away, on April 9th & 10th, so can imagine the political tensions between parties right now is running at an all-time high. An article in The Times called this the worst violence in Italy since the G8 Summit in Genoa in July 2001. Things like this just increase my NEED to get out of here. I know no country is perfect, but would rather live in a more peaceful English speaking country. IF you wish to contribute, don't forget about the Make a Donation button.

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Interesting articles in Newsweek

on Friday, March 10, 2006

Low-Cost Airlines Redrawing Europe's map
Food news blues

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Business Plan

Ok I have been kind of a slacker this week and haven't blogged anything. This week have had to catch up on some housework that I've been rather lazy in doing, working on a business plan for a project my husband and I hope to fulfill within the next year in the United States. Waiting for some numbers from a potential partner, then can put the final numbers together. I've been working on this project for two years now, and am tired of waiting for nothing. So I've started mentioning this to my husband, riding his back side, along with keeping tabs on the partner who's supposed to be getting information, asking if he needs any information, what he's been able to find out etc. I've also added a Make Donations button on the right hand side of my blog, if anyone wishes to make a donation towards this project, would be greatly appreciated. Right now, estimated costs for this project is at least $300,000, plus the expenses of moving to the United States. My husband and I both are sick of living in Italy, and believe this business we plan to open has great potential. There are several of these types of shops already open in the States, but the market is FAR from saturated. Actually many geographic areas of the States aren't even touched, which need to be. The other reasons we want to open this business in the States versus Italy is that first is easier to open a business there, the market for this type of business is far from saturated whereas here in Italy is just the opposite. Help us realize our dream project by clicking on the Make a Donation button on the right hand side! Any contribution amount would greatly be appreciated!

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Expats in Italy

on Saturday, March 04, 2006

I've started a new Expats in Italy group on My Space. For those that are here from somewhere else, or those that are planning or want to live in Italy.

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