I am preparing to move to Taiwan from the UK but having done lots of research already I would like to run some thoughts and questions by you veterans and expats, I’m sure I can learn from your wisdom and experience! I decided it might be best to post everything in one topic rather than splitting my life/teaching issues across two topics. I hope that’s ok.
So this is my current situation…
In September 2010 I shall be 42 years old. I realise age could work against me here - on paper at least - when it comes to teaching children, but I actually look like I’m in my early 30s rather than early 40s and in person I tend to draw positive reactions from people. I am also very white-skinned with a good head of blonde hair. I am totally in touch with my inner child, all the students loved me when I was teacher-training, in fact my 1-on-1 student told me she loved my “energy and passion”, so perhaps if I actually GO there and meet people face to face my 42 years will not be such an issue as it might be to some, and I can also play to my experience… Certainly I am not a backpacker, my TESOL proves I aim to teach not party. Do I have the right attitude and thinking here that being 42 in my case does not have to be a drawback?
I am at the culmination of a 3 year plan: after an 11 year relationship ended I left retail after 13 years to go into ESL. It’s about time I actually put my 2:1 BA degree to use somehow! I had saved to do a Trinity College Cert TESOL and got through it with individual course grades of Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction. I paid for the (in this case, 8 week) course and to support myself whilst doing so, then I spent a couple of months off-loading my stuff to charity and selling all my junk on eBay then bought a decent laptop and filled it with resources and entertainment (so I can save rather than spend money on recreation) and renewed my passport for another 10 years.
Now I am broke and need to find work fast. I know I could get flights/accomodation paid by going to South Korea, but frankly I feel their schools/hours/mindsets are a little too rigid along with a higher cost of living. Taiwan sounds ideal for me but I’m going to need to invest money initially on getting there and a roof and a job…
I WAS thinking of doing some crappy agency work in the UK for a few months to save for the move, but really if I can avoid even more waiting and no-lifing after all this time I would prefer to just get on with it now. Research tells me I could probably find work most of the year round in Taiwan, but that late August/September are some of the best times to catch the schools, so given it is 13th July as I write this now would be an excellent time to think about leaving.
As I said though, I’m skint. I do, however, have an overdraft limit of £1050 available and wondered if I can take advatnage of the August/September job market in Taiwan afterall, rather than drudging in the UK any longer. I could tell my bank I have moved address, in actual fact, a family member’s address so they can forward any letters/statements, and then after a few months in TW as I find my feet I can send some money back into my bank.
As a rough guide, coinmill.com/GBP_TWD.html converts £1050 sterling to $50623NTD
Am I being remotely realistic in thinking I could make a move this way? I’m desperate to just get on with it and don’t want to spend 6 months in a crappy UK job first!
Alternatively, I found an organisation that appears to offer deals similar to Korea, where they purport to offer:
“Guaranteed monthly salary of NT$41,600 in Taipei (approx. £850)
Flight to Taipei reimbursed (during first 4 months)
Quick and simple visa process – you can be in Taiwan in 2 weeks!”
saxoncourt.com/Recruitment/J … fault.aspx
Too good to be true, do you think, for Taiwan? I know the reputation of recruiters, agencies and chains, but for my first year if it gets me set up and doesn’t turn into a nightmare I’m ok with that since I truly plan to be making money in my 2nd year anyway (realism and all that!)
Another thing, I know TW is like most Asian countries in its attitude to teachers, but that there is a little more freedom in some ways. So I wonder about dress code: I prefer comfort to formality, and although I like wearing shirts I was never one for suits… Feedback on that?
Talking of clothes, I heard there is a lot of nylon in Taiwan. Would it be hard to find cotton socks and t-shirts etc? I can’t stand nylon!
In the cities the traffic is crazy and there is often no sidewalk. I see people can often go onto the shopfronts alongside, but how on Earth do you cross the road, particularly in places like central Taipei? “With great difficulty and danger” does not answer the question by the way, I can see that already!
Are there English bus/metro timetables to pick up at the stations since all the signs are in Chinese? I imagine of there are they are better than trying to download and print something off the net that might be out of date anyway…
Next maybe someone from the UK could answer a question I have about the tax form P85…
Form P85 for Those Leaving the UK
“For the majority of people, the main form that you must fill in is form P85. This form will allow you to obtain any tax refund you’re owed and to work out if you’ll become non-resident, thus becoming free from further tax returns. You can obtain this form from your local tax office, or it’s available to download online from the HRMC website. It isn’t difficult to fill the form in, so you shouldn’t require the services of an accountant to do so. You will also need to provide your P45 along with the form and a date of departure from the UK.
Sending Your Information
Once you have completed the P85 form that explains you’re leaving the UK, send the form back to your original tax office that usually deals with your enquiries. If you aren’t sure who previously dealt with this, have a look at your P45 or P60 under the PAYE reference field. This will provide you with 3 digits that correlate with your tax office number. You can then simply enter the number online at the HRMC website and it will provide you with the full address. It’s best to start this process around 3 months before you emigrate. This allows for any possible complications to be sorted out whilst you’re still in the UK.
emigrationexpert.co.uk/TaxWh … TheUK.html”
I wonder if I can get the form and fill it in once I’m in Taiwan and actually have the employment details? Right now I can provide no date or details of any kind and most likely there will be something still missing until everything is sorted in TW, despite what is said above in italics. I probably need to call the tax office and ask them directly, but I needed to make this post first to get other questions answered before I know what questions or info to frame when inquiring of them. Maybe someone has experience of moving to TW verses the P85 form? On this issue I fear I may indeed be trapped in the UK for months to come…
Now back to some teaching issues…
I have checked out, amongst other places, Michael Turton’s excellent site:
But I have a few questions, especially given the info on there is from 2004.
He makes a point of saying one must not work for nothing…
“Do not work for a school which asks you to put in unpaid (or nearly unpaid) time to prepare, or has you write your own lesson plans, or to select your own materials. Not only will you be doing more work for less pay (and screwing up, since you won’t know anything about this), but this indicates a school whose ethics, commitment and experience are low.”
But I have been given the general impression that even in Taiwan English teachers are almost certainly going to have to do ‘unpaid office hours’ or whatever. In fact, judging by the culture I have researched, although I don’t want to be taken for a ride it seems I could do myself some favours by having a good relationship with the school director or whoever, that I could attend their Xmas party and not be paid because they would help me get a cell phone organised (for example). Feedback on this?
Another thing: how fussy should I be about the job I find myself in?
“With luck and hard work, you’ll be working within a a few days. It’s not so important to pick a great job right away, since it’s unlikely you’ll be staying long in your first job. What’s important is to have income flowing in while you adapt and begin searching for the right job for yourself. As a newbie, you’ll have to settle for less well-paying jobs anyway until you get connections and learn Chinese. It will take you from four to six months, maybe even longer, to settle in and find jobs you like. You may have to change jobs a couple of times.”
This sounds like a lot of trouble really, both in terms of stress and paperwork, which leads me on to:
“Don’t be shy about leaving; you can always find more work (just open the newspaper). Be sure to give proper notice, and not tell the real reason you are leaving.”
Proper notice is 2 weeks to a month or what?
But more of a concern to me is what about the transfer of work permit/paperwork when switching schools? So I told my previous school “not a lie” but that my granny was on death’s door so I had to leave (when really I was quitting the school for professional reasons). Does the new school make a fresh application for work permit and/or would they deal with my previous school I just quit in order to get the paperwork? Maybe I later need to go back to that previous school or maybe they could make things difficult when they realise I ran out on them?
About passport, degree and TESOL certificates… Most general TEFL advice says not to let out of your sight the originals of these to schools or anyone. I’m getting the impression it is not like that in TW and schools/agents require the originals and/or copies, but it seems strange expats would let them have them in a place like Taiwan where things can go missing… I’ve read about this happening a few times now and it’s a concern. Feedback?
Finally a little rant: time and time again I see great advice when seeking accomodation/job contracts etc to “have someone to help, particularly a native speaker…” at which point the info and advice goes out the window as it doesn’t apply to me unless someone has invented Powdered Native Speaker - Just Add Water.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Any comments, corrections, feedback or thoughts are greatly appreciated!