Teaching English in Can-eh-da

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Thursday, August 23, 2012. Filed under: , ,

The time has come to get a job. I seriously didn't reeeeeeally consider how I would make money coming back 6+ months pregnant ... Everyone keeps saying "employers can't discriminate..." but, let's face it. If an employer is interviewing two people for a job and one is guaranteed to leave in 2 months and the other one isn't, who would you hire? I wouldn't blame them either.  So for now, I decided to go the 'working online' route. That way I can also work from my sofa!

There was this HORRIBLE commercial for an English school in Brazil that used to play all the time. Probably the most irritating commercial I ever saw while living there (WAY more annoying that Giraffas, Danielle! But that being said... I like the Giraffas commercials, haha)

Cheeeecher.... UGH! HATE! I vowed never to work for this school because of this commercial!

But then I got to Canada... and I have a baby on the way... a course that I'm starting (more on that later)... and so, ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at the newest addition to the OE team!

Actually upon further inspection of this school, I really liked their methods and views on teaching and it seems to be pretty open in terms of various teaching styles. Plus, they're flexible with my schedule. So in fact, it's a pretty great option for me right now. The only downside is the really brutal salary.... especially after teaching in Brazil where you can expect anywhere from R$30 working for a legitimately good school (not a big-box school) to R$60-80+++ teaching privately.

This school pays NINE dollars. My American friends... is this even minimum wage?????? In my province minimum wage is $10.25 - not that it's much better, but it would help if I could start at min wage at least.... oh well beggers can't be choosers and I've emailed them to see if I can start a liiiittle higher.  We'll see what happens.

In other 'back to' news, I registered for school again! Now I'm going back to work AND school which will keep me busy until the baby is born... I decided on a TESL Diploma program so that once I'm back working full-force, I'll be able to teach in public schools and Universities if I so choose.  My crappy little 40 hours TESL certificate will take me nowhere here... it's really amazing how many more opportunities there are in Brazil, just by speaking English and having a degree. 

My biggest fear now is how it'll be managing a new baby and a college program... The words look crazy even as I type them.  I'll have a little break in the beginning but I have no idea what to expect REALLY. I know what people tell me... no sleep, no schedule, life all about the baby... but I will really have to see for myself how I'm going to deal with it all.

Why would I put myself through all of this right now? Because seriously, I love this shit.

P.S. I wouldn't leave you hanging and not show you my beloved Giraffas commercials... Bahaha both are equally amazing! 

Transit System: Here vs There

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Thursday, August 16, 2012.


Yesterday was my first 'big girl' day, out of the house, on my own, figuring out the local transit system of the city I grew up in.  Coincidentally, my mom was amazing at always giving me rides everywhere I needed to go, so as a child I used transit pretty rarely (and when I did, it was only for idiotic things like going to and from the mall).

This time I had to go all the way into the next city over.  *gasp* I know. Grown-ups have bigger places to be, too.

Right on time...
So, the transit system here should be way easier, in theory, because all of the buses operate on a timed scheduled.  And for the most part, they actually arrive at 8:37am when they say they will.  The biggest (I guess we'll use the word) flaw, is that the buses of these suburban cities run down streets, not routes.  And I needed to be down some streets, over some streets, and down some more streets.  That means 3 buses.  BOO!

What's not easy about that, Spoiled Grasshopper?

Well it's timing everything so you don't end up waiting for like 25 minutes between each connection! Because now that I know the scheduled times, I know how long my wait will be (UNlike in Brazil) and that kind of takes away from the surprise element of waiting for a bus you're not even sure will arrive in the first place! (It makes waiting for a bus less boring, ok??)

Ta Da! Fancy...
But back in Canada means back on a system of schedules and punctuality (and a lot of people with hot air up their butts! hehe) But! (no pun intended!) it ALSO means back on a system of A1 Customer Service!  So when I approach a bus stop and I'm not sure what time the bus is coming, or if my bus passes along this route, I just call this fancy number and get an easy-to-follow recording OR a REAL LIVE PERSON WHO ACTUALLY HELPS YOU!

So riding the bus answered a few of the nagging questions I had developed about Canada, while living in Brazil.

1) Is there really a better bus pass system in Canada?
Yes. In my area of the Toronto suburbs this card lets you on all the buses in the surrounding cities, including transfers (which are unlimited in a 2 hour period!!!! *GASP*) and discounted fares!

2) How do the buses arrive places if they don't drive like maniacs?
They have a schedule and they actually drive slooow to get to their stops at the scheduled times.(!!) I arrive on time AND alive??

3)Are the bus drivers really friendlier on Canadian buses?
Well, of the 6 buses I took yesterday, every single driver said hi to me and more than one gave me helpful assistance with directions.

So those are my top preferences about buses in Canada.  They still don't have the charm of Brazilian buses, y'know, things like:
  • flagging down your bus like a taxi cab (gets my excitement up)
  • taking one bus to get to my exact destination (only in Zona Sul, however)
  • talking to people at bus stops, asking for directions
  • not needing exact change because the sleeping cashier will make it for you (when he or she is awake - it's all part of the charm!) ;-)
 I still can't come to a final decision about which system I prefer because at the end of the day, while the Canadian system is way more efficient, the Brazilian system has that beautiful view (oh, AND, preferential seating for preggers, which Canada does NOT have). 

The jury is still out on this one....

Where We Are - 4 Weeks In

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Tuesday, August 14, 2012.
1 Comment

We returned to Canada on July 19, 2012 after having lived in Brazil for 2 years, 8 months and 4 days. 

Why did we return? 

Well, it's complicated and also not complicated at all.  Our plan was never to stay in Brazil forever.  It was to stay for a year.  That year turned into two, which (after struggling to find our amazing apartment which came with a 30 month lease) turned into three more potential years but then we decided to have a baby.

So we quit our jobs. Broke our lease. Sold all of our belongings. 
So now we're back in Canada.  Six months pregnant. Completely confused about our position in life.

I know we made the right decision for our future and our baby by coming back to Canada.  I didn't expect to miss Brazil as much as I do.  I didn't expect to have so much confusion at the beginning... running around trying to find work, trying to get our living arrangements in order, trying to re-adapt to Canadian culture, trying to re-adapt to living with family again.  

Who knew that hearing English everywhere again would feel so weird?

Those last weeks before leaving Brazil were very very emotional... saying goodbye to a period of my life which I struggled to find my place in, but eventually had, was very bittersweet.  Saying goodbye to my adopted family and my amazing job teaching English was especially difficult.

The biggest things I missed about Canada (aside from my friends and family) were bureaucratic...getting cell phones, opening bank accounts, renewing driver's licenses - I definitely am loving how easy it is to do all of those things here!

The things I didn't really expect to bother me so much are the things like consumerism in North America. The sheer amount of shit that people have, people want, people talk about wanting, people talk about buying, how much money things cost, how much money people make, how successful people are.... wow, my list could go on.  This is something that is bothering me HIGHLY. 

I loved learning to be more modest in Brazil. Learning and appreciating cooking more at home. Learning not to buy impulsively or buy things that weren't really necessary. Learning not to always start conversations with 'what do you do' 'where do you work' 'are you more or less successful than me?' (that last one is of course only in the back of everyone's mind...)

I'm also missing being pregnant in Brazil. To be honest, I had very high expectations in Brazil that weren't always fulfilled (I blame everyone for telling me I would be an automatic Queen!)  I had to ask someone (non-deserving) to move out of the preferential seat more than once.
BUT! But, but, but... people were just way more magnetic towards me!  They would come at me hands first, touching my belly, talking to me, asking questions... at first it was totally weird and took some getting used to. But I'm experiencing the opposite treatment here and it makes me totally miss the Brazilian "non-awareness of personal space" norms. People don't touch me (or at least they ask before giving a little pat), and they generally don't give me extra attention/special treatment. Priority lines/parking spaces/first pieces of cake for preggers?  What are those? And now that I've been spoiled in Brazil, I definitely definitely miss it. 

The other thing that I did expect to bother me (and is) is living in a suburb.  Everything is so damn far and requires a car. I miss living car-free and having everything I needed at my fingertips.  I have to keep remembering though, we only achieved this level of comfort at the end of our time in Brazil. 

Patience will be my mantra for the next little while.

At least they sell bus passes here. 

**Did you miss my first blog Gringa Goes to Brazil?**