Before Anna Templeton, 27, went abroad to work in Argentina she worked as a freelance Associate Producer in London. She had been working on a programme for BBC 4, now she runs an Au Pair agency. Here’s her work abroad story.
Why did you decide to go to Argentina?
I decided to go to Argentina because I had been to Buenos Aires in my gap year and completely fell in love with it and always wanted to go back. Then my contract at work was coming to an end and a friend of mine had just been transferred to Buenos Aires. She asked me to join her and I thought, “Why Not!” There was a chance that I could also get work on a film out there. It was fortunate that she got an apartment I could live in – included in her contract – so it seemed like a no brainer.
What job did you do there?
Sadly the work on the film fell through because of budget reasons, and I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful lady through a friend of a friend who was looking for someone to cover her teaching while she was away doing a ski season. So I ended up teaching English in the mornings and I also had a few massage clients in the afternoons (I qualified as a masseuse in England).
How did you find the job?
Through a friend of a friend. You can find work in other ways, however. There are teaching jobs advertised on craigslist.com and I heard of a few others through word of mouth when I was out there.
What was the salary like?
I was extremely lucky with my salary. I got 60 pesos an hour (roughly £11) but this was by no means normal. Most teaching jobs paid between 15-20 pesos (roughly £3-4).
Tell us about the job?
I loved it. I had great students who were really good fun and wanted to learn. I found the first few months hard – coming up with lesson plans – but it got easier as I got used to teaching. I loved the challenge of being a good teacher and keeping the students entertained whilst learning. I also loved how varied it was as a job.
What was your day to day routine?
Mornings teach. Go home for lunch, prepare my lessons for the next day then spend the rest of the afternoon with friends in the park, when the weather was good by the pool and some times doing massages.
Would you recommend this type of job?
Yes, but only on the salary I was on. If not it is a lot of hard work for very little pay and there are not masses of teaching jobs out there. Plus, there is a lot of competition as quite a lot of people go to Buenos Aires to teach English.
Do you need to be qualified?
Officially yes, but unofficially no…with the help of some fantastic grammar books and the British Council website you’ll be fine!
What were the 3 best bits?
Improving my Spanish, immersing myself in a new culture, and meeting new friends.
What were the 3 worst bits?
Getting mugged (at knife point), inflation which made the cost of living expensive, fernet!
Did you find accommodation easily and was it expensive?
Not really applicable to me, but accommodations are SUPER expensive and is charged in dollars. Unless you are planning on going for at least more than a year you are guaranteed to get charged tourist prices.
What was the night/social life like in Argentina?
Fantastic. I met so many amazing people, one of which is my business partner for Au Pair in Argentina.
The nightlife is great but not massively varied. Things start late so don’t expect to get to a bar at 11 and for it to be full, you would probably be the only person there. Music seems to be Tango, Reggaeton and Techno. There are other types but they are much less common. For a good selection of bars and clubs I recommend Palermo.
Are there other things to do there?
Yes in Peru beach (San Isidro, just outside Buenos Aires) you can learn to sail and windsurf. There are loads of tennis courts, there is a lovely clean public pool or you can head to Tigre (only 50 minutes by train) and get out on the delta, enjoy sitting by the water or get involved in the wakeboarding.
If you like rollerblading you can hire rollerblades at the park in Palermo and there is track for you to go round.
Also there is a fantastic graffiti tour which shows you some amazing art work and a different side to the city.
Obviously there are the inevitable Tango lessons!
Did you make some new friends?
Yes, both expats and Argentines.
How do you feel this experience will help with your future career/life?
It has made my career. If I had not gone to Buenos Aires I would never have met Ana and we would never have set up Au Pair in Argentina. I am so passionate about this business, which is something I have never felt about work before. I think the enthusiasm comes from wanting other people to experience Argentina and Buenos Aires as I did. It is a fantastic city, with the most incredible buzz and zeal for life. There is so much to do and experience there, so many nice people to meet, incredible food, wine and music and an exciting underground art world. The only thing that makes it quite inaccessible is the cost of living, which is why we thought of Au Pair in Argentina. That way the worries of rent and food are taken care of, and so you can just use your wages to enjoy the finer things in life!
Any tips for our readers?
Go to Buenos Aires, the Argentine attitude to life will inspire you and bring out a side of you that you never knew you had.
Be an Au Pair for Au Pair in Argentina!
Do you know of any related websites or useful sources of information?
Craigslist is great for finding accommodation as is OasisBA.com
www.wipe.com.ar is great for knowing what is on.
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