What you get when you go to the beach one weekend



I said to [N.] a few days ago, if we make enough from English teaching to put some money away, we teach too many classes. We will never save enough money for retirement by teaching English classes at NT$620 [about USD20] per hour – and that on a part-time schedule over which we have no control.

We simply must spend more time on projects or investments with which we hope to replace our current income in the future – and hopefully to double and possibly triple it. Even if an enterprise only has a 50/50 chance, we must take that chance. More so if it involves the development of skills we currently don’t have but that we can use in the future.


I am almost 47. [N.] is almost 40. If we think we can rely on our income from the English classes we teach, we live in a fantasy world. Every now and then we are ripped out of this fantasy – like today, when I was informed that there is a delay in the issuance of my work permit and that someone else will have to teach my classes for the next few days. But, soon enough, we are lulled into comfort again by the relative ease of making money with English teaching.

Fact is, we can’t count on it! And this applies equally to any of our friends who also earn their bread and butter here in Taiwan as English teachers! Unless you have a permanent position, with a pension plan and three weeks of paid leave every year, and paid public holidays, you’re simply asking to be cruelly disillusioned if you think everything is hunky-dory!

Of course, I’ve been saying these things for almost as long as I’ve been in Taiwan. And I’ve spent so much life energy and time and money trying to earn money in ways other than teaching, I’d rather not think about it to save myself the emotional discomfort.

Every now and then, the possibility comes up to accept another class, another evening you could otherwise spend working on other projects that will have to be sacrificed to earn NT$600 or NT$900. Here’s what you should ask yourself: Can I not pay my rent? Is this why I have to take the extra class? Do I not have enough to eat? Are my clothes peeling off my body and I need the extra cash to buy myself a pair of jeans at Costco? If you answer “No” to all these questions, if you answer that you just think it would be good to get an extra NT$X or NT$Y per month, I suggest you go to the beach one weekend, sit down on the sand, and stare at the horizon for a couple of hours. Because it is clear that you have not thought enough about your life and the consequences of the way you’re living it.