I know it’s been a while. It’s been almost 11 months since my last post. I could use this post to share with you about how we packed up our lives and moved to Guatemala. I could tell you about the steep learning curve I’ve been on, learning how to teach English and mentor other English teachers. I could tell you how I thought I knew Spanish but each day I realize there is so much more to learn.
I’m going back to school!
I shared in my last post that I was taking some courses last fall to get an TESL certificate so I could be better equipped to do my job teaching English here in Guatemala. Long story short, I ended up only taking 3 courses and did not do the whole TESL certificate (due to time). However, the courses were extremely helpful, and I started thinking around April how nice it would be to finish up this certificate. In emailing with a professor at the university I went to, she told me it would likely be a better use of my time to do a Masters in TESOL.
A Masters degree. Whew.
I had always anticipated that I would likely go back to school to get a Masters degree, but I never knew what in. The more I started thinking about this, the more I started to see the dots connect: I have an a BA in English, and a B. Ed (Education). I love languages. I love teaching English. It seemed like the perfect fit, and like all the things I am passionate about all rolled into one. Plus it would help tremendously in my current job teaching English.
After talking about it with Fred, the big question that came up was, “How are we going to pay for this?”
If you know me or have been following me, you know that we became debt-free about a year ago after paying off almost $100,000 in student loan debt. Since becoming debt-free, we have been following Dave Ramsey’s “baby steps” and have built an emergency fund and starting putting away 15% for retirement. Since we don’t have kids or a mortgage, we have disposable income, which for the last several months we used to get what we needed to move to Guatemala (we both needed new computers, Fred needed a camera for work, etc.) and also to set up our home in Guatemala (we bought some furniture and some home decor). We definitely took a pay cut to come down here, but we have been very comfortable with our income level.
Then we factored in the numbers for this program, and it definitely wasn’t what I wanted to see. I didn’t think we would be able to afford it, and in talking it over with the school to discuss financial aid, they suggested a student loan.
If you scroll up just a little bit, you’ll see that we paid off almost $100,000 in student loan debt. There was NO WAY that we were taking out another student loan to pay for it.
Time went on, and I started doing the orientation for the program just in case we found a way to make it work (the only entrance point in the program is July, so if I missed it this year, I would have to wait 12+ months to start). I was still on the fence about this decision for most of May and June, and then, the financial pieces started coming together. I found out I got some financial aid. We were able to budget what I would need each month for school and make it work with our salaries. And I started feeling more confident about it.
So after two months of back and forth, I have decided I’m diving in! I’m doing this program to not only do better in my current workplace, but also to prepare for the future. Although this program is quite an investment, it will have a rate of return in the future that makes it more than worth it. The best part is, the program is 100% online, and I can do it while working. It’s the perfect way to make the most of my experience teaching English, and I’m thrilled to be doing it!
In this process, I’ve realized how liberating it is to be debt-free. If we were still in debt, I wouldn’t be able to do my Masters. I would probably feel stuck and frustrated. Instead, I get to invest in my career in a tangible way, and I’m not stressed about it. Life is good!
Photo credit: The incomparable Fred Brown