I have been teaching English for a year and a half, and on here, besides from a few impressionistic scribbles, I have never described what my day-to-day life is like. Rather than try to explain everything I do in my life, I will explain my current day, which I am in the middle of.
Today, I woke up at 7:15 AM. Its spring here, so its already light out. My alarm isn't set to go off until 7:40, because today class starts at 9:00. Yesterday, my first class was at 5 PM. Classes are usually outside of work hours: before work has really started, during lunch break, or in the evening. Today, on my schedule, I had one of each.
After a cup of tea, and a little bit of yogurt and chocolate, I am ready to leave. I walk to the nearest Metro station, three blocks from my house. Its already warm. Santiago usually has very moderate and predictable weather, and even in the summer, a temperature in the 90s is considered hot. But moving around and riding public transit can make a warm day hot. I ride one station before transferring on to another line, at the busiest Metro station in the city, Baquedano. When I get to the Line 1 platform, it is crowded with people---but over the past few days, I've noticed that they bring a totally empty train to the station, usually at 8:30 AM precisely. I get into a comfortably uncrowded car, but I still can't find a seat. I stand up, poking at my phone, for the ten minutes it takes to reach the station in the rich eastern business district where I am working. I enter a building that looks like an upside down pyramid. Although some of it is an optical illusion, the building flares out from the bottom, becoming wider as it reaches the 20th floor, where I will be teaching. Or where I am supposed to be: last week, my students told me that they had meetings this week, but the class is still on my schedule. Its a candy company, which isn't always apparent from the stressful situation there. I wait in the classroom for 20 minutes, before a student comes in and tells me everyone is busy. During this time, my work also sends me a WhatsApp message (the preferred form of communication here), to tell me my afternoon class is likewise cancelled. This is not unusual, although it is frustrating.
I leave and get on a bus: each additional reboarding of the Metro costs about a dollar off of my card, but I can still use it for free on the bus for another hour or so. My work is about a kilometer away, and I need to pick up some books there. I am starting three classes tomorrow, and will need over a dozen books to give to my students. Most of my work is at the companies themselves, so I can often go weeks without actually stopping by my work. But today, I need to pick up these books. I stop by the office and have office chat, catch up on a few things. Classes starting, and classes ending. I go home with 16 books in my bag. I will be returning to work soon, in the role of a student, for a Spanish class in the afternoon, before I have to leave for another class.
This brings me to where I am now: on my computer in the middle of the day, lying in bed. I've just eaten some invention, halfway between a pizza and a quesadilla. In about an hour, I will leave for my Spanish class. Which I will leave 10 minutes before it ends so that I can take the subway and then the bus to another class. This class, like many of my classes, will be one-on-one. The student is a departmental director at their company, a subsidiary of a large American telecommunications company. It is spring, and we have been working since autumn, and we are now in the middle of senioritis. At the end of the day, its easy for classes to turn into teatime and general chat about the world, which is, of course, a great way to practice talking. After that, I will have a private class that involves a very fast bus ride and a run to my students apartment. Private students pay more, I don't have to (even pretend to) follow a set curriculum, and they are often more casual and fun, but I have to keep track of records and negotiate for myself. Tonight it will just be a discussion of newspaper articles, and perhaps some vocabulary talk. At 8:30 PM, I will head out, taking my 7th public transit trip of the day. I will get home a little after 9, and will have about an hour to prepare for tomorrow if I wanted to get the hypothetical eight hours of sleep.
It is a mixed life. I will be paid for four and a half hours of work, plus some transit time. Of those 4.5 hours, I will work 1.5 hours of them. Plus my one hour of private class time. For working 5.5 hours, I will be paid a wage that is quite good, in a country where the minimum wage works out to be around 500 United States dollars a month. However, despite the good hourly wage, and despite the fact that I am lying naked on my bed digesting a pizza at 2 PM, I still have an entire day blocked out from 8 AM to 9 PM: a 13 hour day feels pretty long. Tomorrow will be similar.
On a larger scale, I can think about the opportunity I have been given: I get to live in a foreign country, have an adventurous career, build my marketable skills and job experience, meet people from different backgrounds, learn from people how I have helped them, feel I am making a difference...and at times, it does occur to me how many amazing aspects there are to this life. But on a day to day level, I am worried about getting enough sleep, about whether my transit card is charged, whether my mobile phone has data added, whether I am out of bread, why I can't find pants that fit, and all the other details of life.
There are many other questions, but for now, I will let this daily record speak for itself.