Why do we need a visa to live in a country? Why is it so hard to get one? Why can’t we just live where we choose to live?
These are questions I have been asking over the past few weeks. Of course, I know the answers to all of them, and I know visa requirements and regulations are there for a reason, but it is so frustrating.
The reason for such pondering is that my time in Australia will be coming to an end in a few months and I love it here, particularly Sydney. I have been thinking of ways to stay but it doesn’t look like there is one. Realistically, I should have started planning how I could stay when I arrived last year (apparently some people are that tactical) but I chose the fun life of travel and limited responsibility so I have to pay the price — which is moving on when my time is up. Hindsight can be a terrible thing, but I don’t regret the experiences I have had, so it’s back to the drawing board to brainstorm the next step and, in typical fashion, the topic of visas has come up again. As any seasoned traveller will tell you, visas can become the bane of your existence.
I have friends who have been in this position before (running out of options and not wanting to return home) who have gone down several different routes. Some were sponsored by their employers, some dotted around countries on visitor visas waiting for inspiration to strike, one went to work on super yachts around the Pacific, a couple went to teach English in Asia and some actually did go home. I’m not ready for the latter yet, I don’t have the funds or the inclination to bum around countries with 18-year-olds living off their parents’ money, I’m intrigued by working on super yachts but especially interested in teaching English in Asia or possibly Europe.
English is a global langauge and people will pay good money to learn how to speak and write it properly. For people like myself, desperate to cling onto the travelling lifestyle but no longer wanting to live like a backpacker, it seems to be the perfect compromise. Asian countries advertising for English teachers include Japan, China, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan. Some countries pay well, others don’t, so prospective teachers need to think about whether they are more interested in the experience or earning money. I would like both (of course) and like the sound of living and working in either Japan or a vibrant city in China like Shanghai. I also like the idea of teaching English to students that really want to learn, and friends that have gone down this route describe it as rewarding and culturally fascinating.
Europe is another hot spot for teaching English, with scores of language schools across the continent. As a British passport holder, I would not need a visa, just the required qualification, the ability to teach and the commitment to be a good teacher. A degree is also a massive bonus, which would put my studies to good use after a few years of neglecting my qualifications in favour of hospitality and tourism jobs. My dad would be pleased.
Even though teaching in Europe would be the easier option, I’m more interested in exploring Asia, which means applying for another visa and possibly being in this position again next year. But that’s what makes travelling so interesting – the unknown, the challenges and making decisions. As the old saying goes, as one door closes, another opens.