Leave the Police Force and Teach English as a Second Language with Adrian Weatherill
During this episode of Blue Light Leavers Podcast, Adrian Weatherill tells us about his 12 years in the Police Service as a Police Investigator. He talks very honestly about his challenges and the catalysts for change, his fears and what held him back from making the change earlier. Adrian made an incredibly brave (some of his closest family would say foolish) decision to leave the job with no job to go to, no qualifications and no idea what he wanted to do. However, Adrian is exceptionally inspiring. You too can leave the police force and teach English as a second language. Adrian decided to try something new by stepping into the unknown. He quit his job as a police officer, and moved to Bolivia. He has now been living in Bolivia for over 2.5 years. Adrian demonstrates that leaving the police force to follow your dreams is possible.
Leave the Police Force and Teach English as a Second Language
Now more than 2 years down the line, he has never been happier and more fulfilled teaching English as a second language in South America! Adrian's story is both inspirational and motivational and I know you're going to love it. If you like what you've heard, please subscribe to the Podcast, and leave a review and come and join us in the private Facebook Group.
“Bottom line, that’s why I exist on this planet, help my community, help my country and help my community in general”
Who is Adrian Weatherill? How did you end up living in Bolivia?
Adrian joined the police back in 2005. He worked 12 years with the police force, then ended his career in the sexual investigations unit. Adrian found himself in so many different situations that made him think on his feet. Through working in the police force, he learned so much about himself. Adrian's time in the police made him the person he is today. Leaving was a voluntary decision. He knew something wasn't right. Policing was something he always wanted to do, yet he was always seeking his true life's purpose was.
Why Adrian Left the Police Force
Adrian joined the police by accident, predominantly because he wanted to help other people. However he needed more freedom and after a few years, the job started bringing him down. He had an opportunity to go to South America as Adrian’s girlfriend is Bolivian and invited him to visit her country. He figured, “What’s the worse that’s going to happen”. While still in the police force, he booked a vacation to Bolivia and fell in love with the place and after some soul searching, decided to see if he could make a life for himself in Bolivia. He wanted to try something new.
A Whole New World in Bolivia
Life is obviously very different in Bolivia than in the UK. There is no welfare state and if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Adrian didn't have any fancy qualifications, but that doesn't matter as your qualifications are the skills and experience you have. He thought creatively and realised that he had a skill that was hugely in demand. There are millions of people in South America who want to learn English, so he figured that starting an English school could be profitable and it grew from word of mouth. Currently, he has a backlog of students. Adrian believes,
"You can do anything you put your mind to".
Were there any catalysts that made you leave the police force?
Adrian is happy to admit that he was suffering from depression and it impacted him quite a lot. He wasn't happy with his situation in general. It wasn't just the job. Adrian grew extremely frustrated with the bureaucracy and felt it was ultimately more challenging than dealing with the criminals.
A lot of people go on vacation, and dream about moving to wherever they visit but never follow it through. Adrian made a list of what he wanted out of life and what he wanted to do in Bolivia and was completely overwhelmed and seriously considering not returning to the UK. But it took a further 3 years before he made the final decision to leave the UK and the Police. Adrian used to live in South London; had the car, a house and was doing very well in life. "Everyone was shocked when I decided to risk it all and throw it all away."
"When you have a stable career, with stable income it is risky to leave it all behind"
What bothered Adrian the most about moving to Bolivia?
“Money. How quickly will I go through my savings? How quickly will I make money to put food on the table? Will I have enough money? How will I pay for the roof over my head? What about health care? Is there a health service? If plan B fails, do I have a plan C?”
Leave the Police Force and Teach English as a Second Language
When Adrian first arrived in Bolivia, he did have a safety net. He had savings, and after a month of relaxing, Adrian joined an English institute. 'They are always looking for backpackers to teach English'. He did that for about a year, and was really enjoying it and the students really liked him. Then, students just started to ask if they could learn outside the hours of the language institute. Adrian knew then that he could do this himself, full time.
Adrian developed an Entrepreneurial Spirit
Other ways that Adrian makes money is with his wife's business and they also export items from other countries. Now, he is interested in having an English magazine for the city he lives in. This should potentially bring about sponsorship money.
Adrian was never an entrepreneur before, but he just thought “what’s missing?”
Left the Police Force and "Just Figured it Out"
Adrian wanted to do anything possible so he could stay in the 30+ heat. If he can do that, by doing something he’s good at, perfect! Now, he can confidently have a conversation in Spanish but at the beginning, he couldn't speak Spanish at all. He just figured it out. Adrian describes it as, "like having a gun to your head. I knew I had to survive." He learned Spanish with his wife's help and by listening attentively to others speaking Spanish. He would write down a phrase, how it sounded and that was good enough to eventually learn. His life depended on it, so he just figured it out!
"You get incredibly creative when your back is against the wall. In the police force, it’s easy to just go with the flow. You’re uncomfortable, but not uncomfortable enough. In this situation, you had to get creative to live"
Always Ask for Help
It's not all been paradise. Adrian suffered a different kind of depression when he first moved to Bolivia. It's tough when he has no clients. He would sit in bed, and think about new ways to make an income. Thankfully, there’s groups out here ready to help. A great expat community in Bolivia gave Adrian a lot of support and he never felt completely alone. While Adrian has done a lot alone, a lot of people have also helped him get to where he is today. For example, with the magazine, he asked other Expats to help. Turns out, one expat knew a printer, and just like that a magazine was possible.
Adrian quickly found out that the expat groups were his lifeline. He's not actually met most of the other expats, but they've been incredibly influential and helped him find work. It was through the expat groups, he got the idea to work with an English Institute.
"If you introduce yourself to an English school, especially if you are from England, they will scoop you up"
Now, what does everyone else think about Adrian's decision to leave the police force and teach English as a second language in Bolivia?
It's about 50/50 now. Before it was, "you’re crazy". Now, Adrian's family loves to visit him in Bolivia. With everything going on in the UK, they are jealous of Adrian’s life. It’s a religious and family oriented country and generally very peaceful, (albeit at time of writing, they're currently going through some political unrest). Adrian says it’s a great place for people to retire. The cost of living is very cheap, he eats very well, for very little money. It’s affordable to buy land and build a house.
Invested Money into Teaching English as a Second Language
Adrian could have built his dream house when he arrived, but instead he put money in the businesses. He figures that later on he can borrow money to build his dream house. You can build a 5 bedroom house with a swimming pool, for about £80,000/$100,000.
Adrian lives in the 2nd biggest city in Bolivia, where gas and oil companies are based and a lot of UK and American companies are based there. There’s 5 star hotels and Michelin star restaurants. Outside of the city, it’s like living in the 70s and the 1870's and takes some getting used to.
Have your clients evolved since you initially moved to Bolivia?
Initially, Adrian taught children English but quickly learned he wanted to work with adults, specifically, professionals who wanted to do international trade. Eventually, he became friends with his clients, and his offerings spread like wildfire. People wanted to learn English from an authentic English person. He would teach from his house, or from his students offices and homes. His flexibility, got him more students and the phone didn't stop ringing off the hook. Everything is leap frogging, using other things as a stepping stone. From being depressed in the police, to eventually leaving the force and that's how Adrian ended up teaching English as a second language in Bolivia.
One of his clients is now a friend and CEO in Bolivia. He now helps Adrian with other projects. Adrian doesn't actually consider him a client anymore. However, Adrian stills get paid to teach him English.
"It’s who you know. Everyone is helpful and warm"
The Power of Networking when Leaving the Police Force
Adrian's situation shows how important networking is, especially after leaving the police force. You have to get out there. You have to talk to people. Share your fears, hopes and ambitions and people will reciprocate. Strangers also shared their fears and ambitions. Chances are, whoever you talk to, has similar dreams. You can work together to accomplish both your goals.
Any sort of final hints and tips for anyone considering a career abroad?
Be brave. You will have problems, different problems than your existing problems. It won't be plain sailing. Just don't give up. No matter what bumps you experience along the road, don’t just give up and go back to the UK where you know how it all works. There’s a wealth of opportunities to take advantage of when moving to a different country.
"There are things the country doesn't have that you can offer. Exploit that"
What holds people back from leaving the police force and pursing their dreams?
Fear. Fear of the unknown. It still is a fear of Adrian's. That is what makes him human. We can't live by our fears. You have to just put it out of your thoughts. Think positively and just move on. You don’t know who you will meet that day, that will offer you life changing opportunities. Adrian tries not to be pessimistic. In the police, you are almost taught to be pessimistic. And after the initial euphoria of the move, he went through a dark period, he managed to fight through it and learned to go with the flow. You need to accept that things will be different, and adapt. Adapt, overcome and survive. Adrian doesn't have any significant qualifications. He needed to use his emotional intelligence, and adaptability. If he can do it, anyone can do it. He’s exploiting the tools he has, he talks to people and finds out how he can help. People need help learning English, he negotiates a price and gets on with it. That's all there was to it.
You Too Can Leave the Police Force and Teach English as a Second Language
Thinking of leaving the Police? Be sure to join the Blue Light Leavers Facebook Group. Adrian is also member of the group, and is available to answer any questions. Want to book a holiday in Bolivia, be sure to get in touch with Adrian. If you are leaving the police force, learn how to write a CV.