As my scheduled departure date to Spain was drawing near I grew increasingly frantic. Perhaps it’s because my sense of adventure is starting to resemble Keith Vaz’ reputation for probity or my gut instinct warning me that something was terribly wrong. Whatever it was, once my nerves had recovered somewhat and my mind was passingly clear it was apparent that Spain was not exactly an ideal country for me. I remember feeling as if my hearse arrived when I see the Iberia Airbus A321 pulling into the gate at Kastrup in February.
The extreme heat and stress of Madrid made a German and British summer, generally a pleasant enough time seem positively idyllic in comparison. I even fell into a new habit – frolicking about the woods in Germany foraging for fresh berries. There was always something reassuring about watching traffic go by in the distance or seeing trains crawling in the valley beneath me like metallic caterpillars, glowing at night.
I found a solution of sorts. I could use the qualification obtained in Spain to find better-paying jobs elsewhere. That qualification was never intended to be a long-term solution, just something to hold me over until I could scrape enough together to settle down; after all, TEFL work might well not be glamorous but it can be remunerative. My Spanish nightmare was brought to a sudden close last week. My primary position was transferred to a new instructor less than a week before I was set to resume after summer hols. The company where I had given lessons demanded I be replaced after finding out that my contract was set to expire within three months.
Leaving Spain was no great loss. In fact, after the initial shock of having been ordered replaced twice within a year passed I was relieved to be out of the place. Parting ways with my Bolivian flatmates was the only thing that was hard. We’d grown very close to each other with much mutual respect and fondness. There was nothing else for it, though. One can’t let sentiments undermine one’s well-being. When I left Usera for the final time, the escalator was broken yet again. I had a loud moan, “Bloody wogs can’t keep anything in proper working order”, as I carried two heavy pieces of luggage down a long flight of stairs. I could almost see CO, decked in ermine and pearls, looking down on me with a wry, but approving, smile in a pose somewhat reminiscent of Jan Marienhof’s “the Virgin of the Cloud”. The Wogs of Dodgydagoland did not easily let me go. On my flight to Frankfurt-am-Main I had the misfortune of having to choose between sitting by two amorous Wogs, across from a pair of self-obsessed Wog businessmen or by a Russian woman travelling with her two-year-old son. I chose the Russian. I can happily inform you that the two-year-old Russian, like most German animals, behaved himself with an infinitely greater sense of decorum than the wretched spawns of Dodgydagoland.
At the moment things are once again highly uncertain. My quality of life has improved dramatically. I was able to move into my old flat in Germany. I have my own kitchen, my own bathroom and, of course, a large bedroom – all to myself! At the same time, I’m now entirely reliant on the income I receive working as a professor’s assistant. I’d hoped that my application to work for the South Korean ministry of education would be accepted, but the recruiter dropped me after having strung me along for five weeks.
The reason? I work and study online so at first glance things don’t entirely make sense. The majority of courses where I work have been transferred to an internet-based platform so I no longer need to be in California. Major assignments for even those courses taught in person are now submitted online as well. The professor is chuffed as she no longer has to commute five days a week. I’m chuffed to bits because I can live in more civilised parts of the world without losing that income. The college is positively ecstatic because they can increase their enrolment and tuition revenue without having to build new classrooms. This change has allowed me to take advantage of one of my position’s greatest benefits – free courses, online, of course. This has allowed me to complete a few more qualifications. However, the recruiter saw this has clear proof that I was dishonest. I’ve since asked a new recruiter to consider my case, applied to go to Japan and even been forced to re-consider just how adamantly I am opposed to ever returning to China.