Well as anyone may have surmised, I began job-hunting shortly after arriving in Buenos Aires. Job interviews (the ones I went to anyway) are quite different here than what I’m used to in the States. Generally, I bring a resume, fill out a long application (repeating everything that’s already in the resume), submit references, send in official transcripts of my colleges, etc. Here, I walked in after emailing a copy of my resume, told them a little about myself, and was asked how soon I could start! Wow! One place had a class for me the next day. It appears that native English speakers are in high demand here at the moment.
So I got my first class a few days after beginning interviews. Unfortunately, all she could promise me was 3 hours a week. I took it, but that wasn’t going to buy tango lessons, so I continued looking. Soon the 3 hours turned into 6, then 9, and in a couple of weeks I had 15 hours of classes. Being used to 40 hours a week, I continued to interview with other schools. Even though I knew from reading blogs that a full work week was around 25 hours (in this business), I still thought I would need to cram my days with as many classes as possible in order to survive. And at that time, I had $0, so I was desperate. But I soon found out that there is a reason they say 25 hours, and here’s why:
With Business English classes, the company pays for a few employees to take the English classes. They want the classes at the jobsite, so the teacher generally goes to the students. If you can imagine how large this city is…. well, let me give you an idea. New York City covers about 302 square miles. Buenos Aires covers about 1500. NYC has a population of about 8 million; Buenos Aires, 13 million. Now, most of the businesses and population density is in Distrito Federal, which is like the downtown area, but I travel over about 3/4 of the city each day. So because the various businesses I go to are all spread out, it makes for a very long day, even though I can only teach 3 classes. So eventually, I had to turn down classes…
Typical Day: I get up about 6:15, have a cup of coffee and leave the house by 6:50. I walk 5 blocks to the subway. I’ll take 3 different lines for a commute of about 45-50 minutes, then walk 6-8 blocks to the business. My first class each day starts at 8, and generally lasts 1-1/2 hours. Some classes are 2 hours. I usually have 3 hours between classes, because everyone wants their classes either before work, at lunch or after work. Even if they didn’t, unless the businesses were very near each other, there’s not time to squeeze in the hour commute each way and an hour and a half class. So I can either run errands, dawdle and have coffee at a bar (that’s what they call coffee shops) or try to run home and have coffee there, which turns out to be about 40 minutes of total home time by the time I get there and have to leave again. So that’s not really worth it, unless I have heavy books to carry. Then I can change out the books in my bag. During this time, I might eat a quick medialuna (like a sweet croissant) with my coffee.
So then I go to my second class at either 12 or 12:30, once again walking 5-8 blocks each way to the subway. After this class (about 2 pm), I do like to go home, mostly because it’s cold outside and I just want to sit and take my shoes off. If I have leftovers at home, I’ll eat lunch there before leaving for my last class. If I don’t, I will eat an empanada or two on the street. Sometimes I have to drop by my employer’s office and pick up books, forms, my paycheck (which is actually cash) or just have a quick meeting. It is fairly close to one of my class sites (about 12 blocks), so I usually will drop by on a day that I have a class there.
My last class begins at 5:30, and it also requires taking 3 subway lines. The difficult thing about the subway for me, since I have no sense of direction, is remembering which direction to take the line! This is no easy task, since there are many entrances (usually 4), people everywhere, and the signage is not the best. There will be a random word (usually someone’s name) for the direction the train is going, which doesn’t match any of the stops or anything on my map. And walking from one connection to the next can often be like a very long maze. Even so, I just about had it memorized when I moved to my new place. So now I have to learn new ones 🙂
I get home from my last class about 8 and eat supper about 9. People eat supper quite late here. I went to dinner with Savanah the other night and we got there about 8:30; the place was empty. I thought it was because it was a Tuesday. Around 10, when we were getting ready to leave, the place began filling up. I asked Luis (Savanah’s boyfriend) when the people sleep here, and he replied, “On the subway!” It’s true! 🙂 So after supper, I begin planning my lessons for the next day; I plan my route with my map, writing the subway line and connections for each class on a piece of paper, because each day is different. I never leave home without my faithful map! It’s all marked up and taped at every fold. Finally I fall into bed about 11:00 or 11:30, and after all that walking, I have no trouble falling asleep! Did I mention I hate walking?
What a different life from the one I had in Little Rock where I got into my car, drove 15 minutes and stayed there all day! Ah, the luxury……