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Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
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MdWanderer Offline
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Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
Apologies in advance to the mods if this is in the wrong forum, feel free to move it if it is.

So I am currently having an issue right now. I am currently active duty in the U.S Coast Guard. I am stationed on an afloat unit out of Detroit, MI but am due to transfer in June of 2019. My contract with the Coast Guard ends in January of 2020. Although my current job sucks (I am Independent Duty logistics working for a ship that could get underway at any time) I can transfer to a land unit when my tour date ends in June 2019, where it is much easier. I might even advance in rank by then to E6 (I would make close to $50,000 a year with benefits) and make more money. My job on land would be much easier, and I would have great medical benefits, easily pay off my student loans, and would be in a better position to buy a house if I stay in. If I leave to go teach abroad I could theoretically still pay off my loans but things would be more uncertain and I would be giving up the security of the Coast Guard to do something I always wanted to do. The Coast Guard has jobs overseas but they are extremely hard to get. I am also plan to get married in June of 2019, but me and my fiancee are running into issues (which is for another thread).

I turn 33 this year and always wanted to teach abroad before I got married and had kids, but poor timing and planning kept me from doing it. I wanted to do a program in Korea before I joined the Coast Guard in 2010, but was rejected by the agency and had a hard time getting into other programs because I didn't have the money for a TEFL certificate. I can now afford to take TEFL classes and my focus is in South America (Peru specifically) and not Asia. I also could learn Spanish as well while down there. I wanted to do a six month program from January 2020 to May 2020 or if not a summer program and then get my Masters in Supply Chain Management that fall. Your help is appreciated!
06-13-2018 08:54 PM
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Suits Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
At 33, you're too old to taking any risks with your future (and present) financial stability. Obviously, the wedding is not going to happen in 2019, (unless you want to follow the path of all the men who have ignored all the red flags and just plunged ahead), but if marriage at a point is a serious possibility for you, you need to ensure that you are established.

Dropping a reliable career option for a six month adventure is NOT a great plan at this point in your life. I would double down on growing your career in the Coast Guard as much as you can and aim at having one adventure after another six to eight years down the road.

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06-13-2018 09:11 PM
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Luvianka Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
Anything is better than dying for Israel, man. Go South, young man!

With God's help, I'll conquer this terrible affliction.

By way of deception, thou shalt game women.

Diaboli virtus in lumbar est -The Devil's virtue is in his loins.
06-13-2018 09:42 PM
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MdWanderer
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
Doesn't sound lucrative to me. At 33, I'd be more worried about stabilizing my future than putzing off to SA. If you do things right, you can do what many of the older cats on this forum do: 6-9 months of work and then 3 months of play in a country of your choice.

Let us try to maintain a higher standard of life than that of the multitude, but not a contrary standard; otherwise, we shall frighten away and repel the very persons whom we are trying to improve.

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06-13-2018 09:46 PM
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ball dont lie Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
It sounds to me like you are having all these thoughts of travel and getting away because you are in a terrible situation with this woman who is pressuring you to marry her. End that today. Clean break.

Focus on your career in the coast guard. Pay off all your debts. Get some financial freedom, get a second job if necessary and start saving. Build up some vacation time and fly down to South America for a few weeks with that saved up vacation time and saved money.
06-13-2018 10:30 PM
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Spaniard88 Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
Go now.

Age doesn't forgive.

In five years, you'll just want to settle.

At your age, I wouldn't do any country where you aren't running a surplus, though, which somewhat rules out Latin America. Look for the countries where you can teach, date cute girls, and run a healthy surplus every month.
(This post was last modified: 06-13-2018 10:34 PM by Spaniard88.)
06-13-2018 10:32 PM
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
What are you going to get if you finish the Coast Guard contract that you wouldn't get if you left prior to that? Pension? Free VA health care for life? Options to transfer overseas? January 2020 is just 1.5 years away. You'll be just 35, not too old. Maybe you should just tough it out, pay off student loans, get a TEFL certificate and also look for opportunities to transfer overseas with the military in the meantime?

You don't have to buy a house unless it makes financial sense. As other guys mentioned, you don't have to get married either especially if you have issues with your fiance.

You didn't provide any details about your savings etc but I assume you don't have much given that you are still paying off student loans. In your situation I wouldn't just move abroad to teach English especially if you have to give up Government benefits, job security and a pretty decent salary. Just stay the course and look for better options in the meantime.

Not to knock on English teachers in SA and other regions overseas, but have met a few of them and even have a friend who taught English in one of SA countries. He didn't have a lot of money saved so after teaching English for about 3 years he had to go back to North America, get a low skilled job and start his life from zero when he was around 40. Based on his experience I would say you have to be debt free and have some decent money saved up to make it work. Otherwise, savings wise, you'll be running on a treadmill instead of moving forward.
06-13-2018 10:49 PM
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ThrustMaster Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
How long have you been in? How many more years to 20?
06-13-2018 11:30 PM
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The Black Knight Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
I'm a post 9/11 active duty vet; just to establish where I'm coming from.

From the sounds of it, you are at 10 years in come 2020. Assuming that's the case...

I wouldn't leave unless:

1) You hate what you're doing in the Coast Guard and see no way out of it.

2) You don't enjoy the culture and/or lack of control over your life.

3) You're fixated on living somewhere else for a long time for very good reasons (to be close to family, for instance).

4) You have an overwhelming passion for something that can't be done and/or obtain in the military. Have a teaching itch? Find a instructor special duty; some people make careers doing special duties that fit them and their particular itch. Maybe teach at the Coast Guard Academy?

Of all the branches, the CG is the best overall gig in my opinion. You don't have much in the way of overseas options but you can make that up with some solid coastal spots in good locations that don't feel like retarded military towns. This also makes it easy to see friends and family stateside. Good and reasonable people in the CG compared to other branches in my unscientific opinion as well.

The BIG DEAL why you should stay:

You can punch out at 20 years with a 50% pension and full medical benefits that you draw immediately.

(The medical benefits are with Tricare and using private doctors and works worldwide. NOT the VA which is confined to VA buildings in the US; which assuming you have access to are AWFUL across the board and NOT something you want to depend on for medical care).

After your mid-40s until FOREVER, you can travel the world as long as the US gov't doesn't become insolvent.

You don't have to watch the markets/investments.
You don't have to run an online business.
You don't have to deal with clients or bosses.
You don't have to taxi around Lima for peanuts to pay the bills.
You can live where you want, when you want, and do what you want.

When it comes to passive income, it doesn't get much better. It's not relatively a whole lot but it's a solid baseline for independent living. To replicate an average military pension yearly payout (especially if including the healthcare), you need 1.5 to 2 million. AND you have to manage everything yourself.

You gonna have that in about 10 years if you leave? The money and skills?

If you leave:

1) Corporate culture in the US is very anti-male and very PC for the most part. More often than not, you will work harder on thin ice for less security, less money, and way less benefits. Due to this, you need to make A LOT more money to shore up these gaps; like minimum six figures assuming you're single with no debt.

2) Teaching English is a joke job unless you plan on becoming a international school teacher with all the credentials and/or parlaying your experience into some sort of business. Teaching English in general doesn't pay shit and South America especially doesn't pay shit for teaching English.

3) A Masters in Supply Chain Management? Why? What's the motivation for that even assuming you have the GI Bill? Seems a bit random.

4) Do you have other skills to fall back on if the English teaching thing doesn't work out?

Bottom Line:

1) If the CG ain't for you (culturally/lifestyle/job), even if you were to cross-train or get a commission, probably best to leave. You COULD consider other branches but I wouldn't.

2) Understand that once you leave, it is very difficult to get back in.

3) If you do CG Reserves, you will have to report to your duty station once a month and are always at risk of being deployed. Kind of a bitch to fly back to the states for a few hundred bucks a month or get a random call to do bullshit deployments that screw with your civilian life.

4) If you decide to stay, get a commission ASAP. The pay will be a major boost and your retirement will be MUCH better. You also need 10 years as an officer to retire with your officer rank. An O-3E gets around 45k/year at 20 years and you make low six figures while in. Enlisted get fucked hard on pay. Senior enlisted are looking at around 20-30k/year at 20 years. Invest your extra pay money until retirement and you will be sitting pretty come your 40's.

5) If you want to get rich, leave the military. If you want a decent job and lifestyle where you can just be on autopilot with the best retirement in the world for an average person, you should stay in.

6) And for fucks sake, DO NOT GET MARRIED if you stay in the military. Ever. Remember that awesome pension I mentioned? Say bye bye to half of that forever. I don't give a shit if you wanna give her medical benefits, get dependent rate BAH, or family separation pay. NOT WORTH IT. Ignore this last bit at your own peril.

If you have any questions/concerns, don't hesitate to ask.
(This post was last modified: 06-14-2018 12:13 AM by The Black Knight.)
06-13-2018 11:51 PM
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scenicway Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
If you find it tolerable, stay in.

I left a couple years ago. I was an officer in the other maritime branch. The private sector has it's own problems. I do make a lot more money. The military was not tolerable for me, so I did my service and got out. In hindsight though, it's not a bad gig if you can negotiate the politics effectively. The two things I miss are the excitement of PCSing (something I bitched about when I was AD) and the pride of actually being a service member. That being said, I do not regret leaving. I personally could not do that for 20 years no matter what pension is available.

Do not make any big decisions in the military based on that fiancee. None. Cut the rope unless you truly love her. She will fuck up all your plans otherwise.
(This post was last modified: 06-14-2018 01:09 AM by scenicway.)
06-14-2018 01:07 AM
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choichoi Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
(06-13-2018 08:54 PM)MdWanderer Wrote:  Apologies in advance to the mods if this is in the wrong forum, feel free to move it if it is.

So I am currently having an issue right now. I am currently active duty in the U.S Coast Guard. I am stationed on an afloat unit out of Detroit, MI but am due to transfer in June of 2019. My contract with the Coast Guard ends in January of 2020. Although my current job sucks (I am Independent Duty logistics working for a ship that could get underway at any time) I can transfer to a land unit when my tour date ends in June 2019, where it is much easier. I might even advance in rank by then to E6 (I would make close to $50,000 a year with benefits) and make more money. My job on land would be much easier, and I would have great medical benefits, easily pay off my student loans, and would be in a better position to buy a house if I stay in. If I leave to go teach abroad I could theoretically still pay off my loans but things would be more uncertain and I would be giving up the security of the Coast Guard to do something I always wanted to do. The Coast Guard has jobs overseas but they are extremely hard to get. I am also plan to get married in June of 2019, but me and my fiancee are running into issues (which is for another thread).

I turn 33 this year and always wanted to teach abroad before I got married and had kids, but poor timing and planning kept me from doing it. I wanted to do a program in Korea before I joined the Coast Guard in 2010, but was rejected by the agency and had a hard time getting into other programs because I didn't have the money for a TEFL certificate. I can now afford to take TEFL classes and my focus is in South America (Peru specifically) and not Asia. I also could learn Spanish as well while down there. I wanted to do a six month program from January 2020 to May 2020 or if not a summer program and then get my Masters in Supply Chain Management that fall. Your help is appreciated!

Come teach in China bro. I served 4 yrs active in the US Army and fucked off to China. The money is really good here though I don't think you'll be clearing 50k/yr. Despite that, you will be able to save alot.

Also I am using my 9-11 to do another bachelors for Chinese Language and getting a substantial amount of MHA which I use to pay off my student loans from the previous degree. "Use other people's money" as Robert Kiyosaki would put itIdea

I hated the Army but it got me some really good perks and gave me the resilience I needed to adjust quickly to life here. I would advise against you teaching in Peru if money is a motivation for you - the pay is gonna be shit. China is better with many more opportunities to branch out and do your own thing.
06-14-2018 01:40 AM
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Suits Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
(06-14-2018 01:40 AM)choichoi Wrote:  Come teach in China bro. I served 4 yrs active in the US Army and fucked off to China. The money is really good here though I don't think you'll be clearing 50k/yr. Despite that, you will be able to save alot.

Is less than $50K allowed to be called "good money?"

My experience has been that you can only really save on a China ESL salary if you work your way up to a better paying job only advertised through word of mouth (and earn more than $50K), freelance heavily (and earn more than $50K) or (earn less than $50K and) live a far inferior lifestyle than most anyone would be willing to settle for in North America if they had the choice.

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06-14-2018 02:03 AM
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
Based on what The Black Knight has said regarding the pension it would be pretty unwise financially to take up teaching english and lose that. 10 years teaching English I'd probably be being generous in suggesting maybe you save $120,000. I think the more probable scenario is you'd end up at 45 living close to pay cheque to pay cheque.

I don't know much about a military pension but what I read is you get half of $50,000 per year so $25,000 + health care. That is a large amount of passive income. I wouldn't quite equate it with health care to as much The Black Knight has suggested but I'd be confident in saying thats worth atleast $500,000-$1,000,000 depending on your medical history / issues. To be frank most retirees at 65 probably won't even have that much passive income.

Getting married in the west is not good.

With all that said waiting 10 years to live your life is going to be pretty dreadful. I don't know if I could personally stomach doing that.
06-14-2018 11:48 AM
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MdWanderer Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
(06-13-2018 11:30 PM)ThrustMaster Wrote:  How long have you been in? How many more years to 20?

I have been in for seven years. Will retire in 2031 at 46 years of age.

(06-13-2018 11:51 PM)The Black Knight Wrote:  I'm a post 9/11 active duty vet; just to establish where I'm coming from.

From the sounds of it, you are at 10 years in come 2020. Assuming that's the case...

I wouldn't leave unless:

1) You hate what you're doing in the Coast Guard and see no way out of it.

2) You don't enjoy the culture and/or lack of control over your life.

3) You're fixated on living somewhere else for a long time for very good reasons (to be close to family, for instance).

4) You have an overwhelming passion for something that can't be done and/or obtain in the military. Have a teaching itch? Find a instructor special duty; some people make careers doing special duties that fit them and their particular itch. Maybe teach at the Coast Guard Academy?

I do enjoy the Coast Guard but my current unit has me rethinking it. Fortunately I have been on a land unit before so I know it is not all that bad, and that there are better units out there. I wish to relocate to the DC area after my stint is up in Detroit.

I also hear you on the civilian corporate culture. I hated it for different reasons. I found way less camaraderie and more backstabbing in the civilian world. I just figured that I do the teaching in SA thing because I want to get that done before I settle down and have kids but it may not be feasible. The financial benefits of the military are way too great to pass up. Plus I can get a Masters degree through Tuition Assistance or go OCS so my college degree won't be in vain. I might even consider an overseas assignment in Bahrain if the fiancee and I do not work out. They are generally easier to get than the units we have in The Netherlands and Japan.

(06-14-2018 01:07 AM)scenicway Wrote:  Do not make any big decisions in the military based on that fiancee. None. Cut the rope unless you truly love her. She will fuck up all your plans otherwise.

I am not. I made it clear that even if we were to get married, I would do the teaching English thing for at least a summer. I do not believe in dropping your ambitions for a woman. I could've been making six figures by now and traveled more and acquired more skills in college but womanizing got into the way. I've learned my lesson.
06-14-2018 04:20 PM
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zatara Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
That 20 year pension is an absolutely insane deal, I wasn't aware it was that good. You'd be very silly to give up on that when you're halfway to it. If you're guaranteed 30k+ p.a. (depending on what rank you end up as?) and free healthcare worldwide for the rest of your life yearly thats enough to live frugally in lots of places in the world. You can still go to less age-ist places at 43 like Colombia, Asia or Russia and have a good time. You could also still teach English if you really wanted to, to supplement your income.

It sounds like you just really need to transfer out of your current unit, if you can. Then try and scratch the travel itch by using your vacation days to hit up South America or wherever else on shorter trips.
06-14-2018 04:58 PM
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birthday cat Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
How much do English teaching jobs in South America pay? Maybe I'm wrong but I thought they start at like $5 or $10 per hour. I wonder if there are other options for MdWanderer like switching to the reserves and taking some extended trips to SA.
06-14-2018 05:20 PM
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The Black Knight Offline
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
(06-14-2018 04:20 PM)MdWanderer Wrote:  I do enjoy the Coast Guard but my current unit has me rethinking it. Fortunately I have been on a land unit before so I know it is not all that bad, and that there are better units out there. I wish to relocate to the DC area after my stint is up in Detroit.

I also hear you on the civilian corporate culture. I hated it for different reasons. I found way less camaraderie and more backstabbing in the civilian world. I just figured that I do the teaching in SA thing because I want to get that done before I settle down and have kids but it may not be feasible. The financial benefits of the military are way too great to pass up. Plus I can get a Masters degree through Tuition Assistance or go OCS so my college degree won't be in vain. I might even consider an overseas assignment in Bahrain if the fiancee and I do not work out. They are generally easier to get than the units we have in The Netherlands and Japan.

Every gig is gonna have some ups and downs so I wouldn't sweat over a less than ideal assignment. One of the nice things about the military is you can get a fresh start usually every few years if you get stuck in a shit unit. I would only leave if you hate the overall CG culture, the culture of your job, and the job itself; the latter two you can change potentially. If you got a bad official rep (shit evals/paperwork... doesn't matter if legit or not) that is preventing you from going to OCS/promoting/cross-training, that's a good reason to leave too; pretty hard to dig out of that hole in the zero mistakes PC military these days.

I'd say location preferences is a good reason to bounce as well but if you got a hard on to be back in the DC area eventually of all places, that should be relatively easy with military HQ being there, all the local waterways, and the fact that hardly anyone wants to live there.

Personally, I left partly because I couldn't stand the overall culture of the military (not CG), I didn't agree with the overall mission (i.e. get involve in stupid foreign conflicts and get killed for it) and I was confident I could find a far better lifestyle on the outside; which turned out to be true. The CG has a very different culture, lifestyle, and mission however. Of all the branches, the CG is the only one I'd even entertain joining now. There also the US Public Health Service and NOAA if I was a medical/science type. They get the same benefits as the DoD.... crazy.

With nearly 10 years AD time, leaving from a practical standpoint just doesn't make sense unless things are overall really bad in the CG and/or you are VERY confident about where you want to go and why civilian wise. As a mid 30s prior enlisted guy, unless you are doing your exact same job equivalent as a civilian, you will be in for a world of pain for several years either learning a new job, going to school, or trying to find your way in the civilian job market. That's a few years you could have added towards your 20.

Another alternative is to get a federal job and buy back your AD time. That will get you to the DC area for sure, make sure your AD time doesn't go to waste, get you some civilian lifestyle benefits/flexibility, and give you more options on living locations including overseas. As a vet, you will have a leg up in the hiring process. As a prior AD guy, you would also get the vacation/sick leave equivalent of someone with 10 years in. So, you're not totally starting from the bottom on that front. If you did 20 years in a six figure fed job and bought back your 10 years on top of it, you're looking at around a 30-45k pension. A bit higher if you do certain jobs like fed law enforcement/congressional work/foreign service officer that pay out higher percentages.

The main down side is that the retirement doesn't pay until 62 (in most cases, a minority of jobs have different deals), you have to pay into it (like 4.4%... use to be 0.8% a decade ago) and even if you qualify early with 20 years and paper retire, you lose COLA until you draw. In other words, if you "retire" at 50 but draw at 62, you lose 12 years of inflation on your retirement check. It's like getting a retirement check in 2006 dollars in 2018. In contrast, your military pension gets COLA from day one (big deal when you retire young). Federal retirement is a bit complicated so you need to know some specifics to get a better idea on what you're looking at.

On another note: Birthday Cat suggested the reserves but I don't recommend doing that since the attitude of many reserve units is to be like active duty lite now with little regard for your civilian schedule and obligations. In short, you get a lot of active duty bullshit with none of the benefits. You also can't draw your much reduced pension until 60 years old. If you want to exit AD and travel the world in particular, the reserves will be a massive pain in your ass for essentially no benefit. I'm speaking as a former reservist myself; not someone who knows someone.

Overall, just sounds like you need to get some overseas fix out of your system.... what about Puerto Rico? Plenty of chances to do a side English teaching gig while assigned there and you get a bit of a Latin America vibe.

Also, you should look to see if any kind of sabbatical program exists in the CG. Some of the other branches have established programs to allow people to peace out for for a bit and come back as retention tools specifically for people in similar situations such as yourself.

Anyway, that's enough to get the ball rolling. Hope that helps.
(This post was last modified: 06-15-2018 12:36 PM by The Black Knight.)
06-15-2018 12:23 PM
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RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
(06-15-2018 12:23 PM)The Black Knight Wrote:  Overall, just sounds like you need to get some overseas fix out of your system.... what about Puerto Rico? Plenty of chances to do a side English teaching gig while assigned there and you get a bit of a Latin America vibe.

Also, you should look to see if any kind of sabbatical program exists in the CG. Some of the other branches have established programs to allow people to peace out for for a bit and come back as retention tools specifically for people in similar situations such as yourself.

Anyway, that's enough to get the ball rolling. Hope that helps.

Thanks. I tried to get Puerto Rico out of my last unit but did not get it. Besides I am not sure if it would be good after the hurricane and I am not a fan of the heat. I heard that in South America, especially in the mountainous areas like Peru, it does not get as hot.

Overall I do like the Coast Guard, but just needed to scratch the overseas living/teaching itch. But I am very comfortable at the moment.
06-18-2018 10:55 AM
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Post: #19
RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
How much leave is saved up? Why haven't you accumulated 1 or 2 months worth and spent it down there or have you?
06-21-2018 05:03 PM
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presidentcarter Offline
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Post: #20
RE: Giving up Active Duty military to teach English in South America, should I do it?
As someone who's made a very similar decision, I thought I'd opine.

I left a pretty lucrative banking job in my late 20s to go teach abroad. Would I do it again? Yes. Would I recommend you do what you're contemplating? No.

Here's why:

- I had options. I was pretty sure I'd end up coming back after several years unless something extraordinary happened. I went from being "sponsored" - a free flat and guaranteed hours - at a McSchool (starter schools for most teachers) to teaching at multinational corporations and private students within a year or so and was making more than 99% of the other teachers I knew. But I knew that wouldn't be a way to live. You'll never be able to save that much even in the top 1-10% of teachers in your country compared to the benefits you're currently on track for. Nothing is guaranteed. Students fuck off for long holidays all around the same time. And their holidays are longer than Americans. Can you go a few months a year with a fraction of the cash you're getting in a good/normal month? Sure you can start your own school, employ teachers, etc. and sky's the limit but now you're an entrepreneur. Anyway, as hard as it was coming back, I'm now working in a similar field with less pay but also less stress. It was somewhat a win-win although I miss that place every day. Can you feasibly return to Coast Guard if it doesn't work out?

- Thought about certifications yet? CELTA runs $3k+ if you get it in USA. I did make the considerable investment of time and money that is the CELTA before going. I wanted to ensure the best chance of success and I wholeheartedly recommend this program for anyone seriously considering teaching abroad.

- South America is a, if not the, most difficult place to teach abroad financially speaking. They simply don't have the disposable income to support a teacher for the most part.

- Even a lucrative country for teaching, should you decide to change your mind on location, will not yield anything close to the benefits you stand to gain should you stay in the service.

- Girl, marriage, something or other. I'm not going to go there but would hope your decision would be entirely your own.

Doing it changed my life. Total and complete mindset shift. Tons of perspective. It's a heart vs. stability choice and that's why this is even a debate.

"...it's the quiet cool...it's for someone who's been through the struggle and come out on the other side smelling like money and pussy."

"put her in the taxi, put her number in the trash can"
(This post was last modified: 06-22-2018 01:13 AM by presidentcarter.)
06-22-2018 12:50 AM
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