Well, after months of having “our fishing lines in many ponds” (as my wife would say), the week came upon us quite suddenly and unexpectedly when we had to make a decision about what to do next year. This was not only our first big decision as a married couple, but also one of the biggest decisions either of us have ever made in the sense that the outcomes of any of the decisions were quite obviously and radically different.
After months of applying, thinking about possible scenarios, and waiting, we heard from pretty much everywhere within 3 days of each other. My philosophy with jobs is that I’ll get one when I get to a place. I never really plan it out before, but just go and find something to do for a while. Brittany, however, had a few different applications out in the ether, which meant that our possible scenarios were painted from these plans.
After hearing back early from an international school in Kyrgyzstan and a PhD program in Boulder, two of our top options got swept away. So we had anxiously been waiting to hear from other PhD programs and international schools, when they all came at once. Brittany was accepted to UC Santa Cruz with $40,000 of funding for the first year only, offered a job at an international school just outside of Seoul, and to top it off, offered a job at her old school in Denver. So we had 3 very different, very good options, and we had to decide within just a few days, due to the terms of the offers from the international school and university regarding funding.
I’m more of a seat-of-my-pants kind of person, whereas Brittany likes a plan of sorts. This actually made the decision-making process quite difficult. Whereas I imagined myself adjusting well to any place, I think Brittany was worried that I would be restless in some situations. Of course, I wanted to make sure that Brittany was happy and fulfilled in any choice she made. Then there were separate considerations of making and saving money so that we are in a position to have greater freedom to pursue interests of travel, business, leisure, and adventure (sooner rather than later), and greater ability to see friends and family and to start a family (sooner or later).
That said, nothing covered the entire spectrum. We love living and traveling in Korea, but we miss friends and family in the States. The PhD program in Santa Cruz was still pretty far from family and would leave us in considerable debt for some years after, but academia and exploring a topic in depth is attractive to Brittany. Denver is wonderful and where our hearts often are, but we would have limited travel time and spend more years being a little stressed about money.
Obviously, it’s difficult to weigh any of these matters as being more important than the others (we tried), and then constantly considering and trying to communicate what might make the other happier was a big challenge. We both saw any of the options as awesome choices for many reasons, but none of them stood out as the absolute right thing to do, not even for one of us.
Our decisions all hit at once, and we had only until the end of the week to make one. We were able to have a surprisingly logical and well thought out discussion. It became clear that while going to school in and living in Santa Cruz was an exciting thought, it probably wasn’t the right move for our lives. Among other things, there was the probability that we would be in quite a bit of debt for many years after. And we both agree, debt sucks.
While we miss Denver and will probably be back there one day it isn’t quite the right time. We are happy clams traveling on this side of the world for a while, and doing so for a couple more years gives us plenty of time to travel, and it will set us up well financially to have more adventures and eventually start a family in Denver.
So we’re going with the international school in Korea, which means we better start studying our Korean more intensively^^ We are very excited that Brittany will be working at an international school with a very strong curriculum (the freshman class this year spent a semester analyzing the Odyssey in English and modern works inspired by the Odyssey), beautiful campus, good salary, free housing, and best of all…13 weeks vacation! Plenty of time to visit friends and family or travel.
For the time being, I am waiting with sparse hope to hear back from the same school regarding a teaching assistant position. Apparently there are minimum visa requirements and it’s unclear whether or not my experience meets these. If that doesn’t work, it’ll be kindergarten or hagwon again! But I would be so jealous of those 13 weeks…