After a lot of back and forth with the University of Macau,I’ve decided to return to Jinan where I’m happy and know what I’m getting into. In teaching overseas there’s a lot of unknowns. Like many teachers, I’ve been burned by broken promises and false claims.
The trouble I ran into with this job arose over housing. As I’ve said, that was my first question when I was offered the job. I was told, very clearly told, that all overseas hires would get housing.
Then six weeks or so later, we learn that we have to apply for housing. There are 350 apartments and 1200 eligible employees. A point system would be used. Distinguished Professors get 75 points. Associate Professors, 60 and Assistant Professors 40 and Senior Lecturers and secretaries 20. Huh? Secretaries are valuable and I’ve done that work, but it does not require higher education and it’s not a source of a college’s reputation. Teaching is.
I’d get 30 points. Hardly in the running.
The contract, which was in Portuguese, stated that it superseded all communication between the employer and employee. Thus a director’s email promising housing had no weight. I wanted to practice negotiating, but my requests for changes in the contract were denied. I wasn’t just asking for special treatment for myself, but for all in the department.
In my interview I’d specifically asked about how the administration treated and supported the department. I got a bland “I think they value us pretty well” sort of answer, but the housing policy showed that wasn’t the case.
The problem with interviews is that you don’t really know what you’re getting into. No one honestly answers the tough questions.
I have reached a time in my life where I’ve learned to stand up for myself and insist on a certain kind of communication and organization from a prospective employer. As enticing as a salary might be, I realize it’s better to mind the red flags rather than move forward with a potentially iffy, hence stressful job.
I am looking forward to returning to Jinan in the fall so all’s well. I think in EFL and other fields there’s a temptation to disregard red flags. That’s usually a mistake. Job hunter, don’t sell yourself short. Hold out for a job worthy of your competency and dedication.