Tumultuous Times

The last few months have been, well, tumultuous times.

The Weltzeituhr
The Berlin World Time Clock

Not so much in my own life; I am still employed locally, working on a lot of technical writing and quality control for my employer. On the side, I freelance, with editing and graphic design taking up the most of my spare time. I still enjoy what I do, I am just not so sure I enjoy where I am doing it.

The America I grew up in, the America I am most proud of, is changing – or changed. The close of 2016 brought a new uber-conservative regime into power with a thin skinned and hot headed commander at the helm. With few exceptions, each day since the election reveals more scandal, more corruption, and more threats against civil securities than I ever imagined – 0r at least, only imagined in my wildest nightmares and worst dreams.

While budget cuts threaten the arts, education, and the environment (all things I am passionate about), it appears there are endless funds for the American war machine (which I am by far less passionate about). I simply do not believe continued armed conflict will ebb the already existing tension and distrust among world cultures. We meddled and tried all this before, and I expect similar results in the future – angrier enemies and a larger rift in an already seemingly unsurpassable cultural divide.

world-astronomical-clock
The Prague Astronomical Clock: The oldest still functioning.

Tumultuous times, indeed.

So what am I to do?

In short, all I can do is all I know how to do: communicate, advocate, network, and educate. Feeling more and more like an outsider in my own land, the draw of continuing my education and career abroad is stronger than ever. If America is no longer a place I find personal belonging, perhaps I must consider my future not merely on economic and educational concerns, but rather ideological concerns. America may no longer represent me, but I will continue representing America. The peaceful, pro-education, pro-environment, pro-world America I know it can be, and will be again – someday.

The best way to do this will be by stepping away, an unofficial ambassador in a faraway land. Thus, I am eliminating my consideration of graduate school in the United States.

With growing issues surrounding international travel, border controls, and visas, this path could become one wrought with ever changing policy and bureaucratic hurdles. Preparation for a (likely) permanent move has to be well-researched and thoroughly thought out. Aside from obtaining the necessary funding, I will need to close up and sell off my home and belongings. I will need to assure my cats can come with me. Services, insurances, memberships, and residency must be cancelled and reestablished elsewhere.

I suppose to some this comes off as a wee bit scary, and all too complicated.

I do not disagree, but I have the passion to persevere.

goabroad
GoAbroad is a great resource for anyone considering life overseas!

In recent weeks, I read a few articles encouraging life abroad, and “Five Unconventional Reasons to Study Abroad” on GoAbroad.com stood out because, as a participant, I now recognize the deeper value gained from the overseas experience, beyond the basic and obvious stuff. The fifth reason the article refers to  is experiencing the world beyond what the media shows you. Although the article is older, the importance of actual cross cultural interaction means more now than ever before. In my experience of the refugee crisis in Europe, I know there is truth in this. Back home, news networks were broadcasting nonstop footage of violence and fear along the borders of the Balkans Route, and while there were certainly pockets of turmoil, Europeans, for the most part, continued with their daily routines. There is no religious takeover, no holy siege, no martyring mass. Not the way some news organizations would have you believe, anyways.

If I am going to make a difference, I am going to have to go out there and prove it to the sceptics back home. Likewise, if I am going to convince the world Americans are not all self-serving warmongers, I better get out there and become a part of it.

 

Options and Ideas… but Decisions?

Ok, I admit I was gone for a while. Silent.

No peep to my blog, no post to my gallery; surely forgotten by my handful of followers.

What a letdown.

But, please! Do not give up on me!

I promise I have not been slouching around, satisfied with my grades and all set with my goals. I swear I have been here all along, on a course of post-grad “adulting,” which I admit swept me up and into the workforce sooner than I ever imagined. what-is-the-course

Two days after graduation, I landed a great position in the Art Production department of a nationally known local company. Anyone who has visited my web portfolio knows my love and talent for both written and visual communication. I am happy to have secured an opportunity to work in a commercial industry utilizing my artistic and rhetorical skills.

Always in the back of my mind, however, I still consider ideas for further educational and intercultural experience. I think about my endgame. Where I see myself in my retirement, in my twilight years, looking back on a career well founded and well built.

My next steps need be considered carefully, options are not endless, but they are diverse and interesting and, I believe, all potential leads to the same end – continuation of my studies in intercultural communications, bolstered by international experience in education. Decisions must come carefully; they must be grounded in purpose.

As of now, I consider myself having three options for my graduate studies… which-road-is-for-me

  • Keep It Stateside – attend a local university part-time while working full time. It will take nearly four years and I could begin immediately with financial aid, which I will need, since my choices for an MA in communications will run me at least 40k.
  • Grad School Abroad – attend university full time while living in Europe. It would take only two years to complete my studies. However, although the courses are free, I would need to save roughly 20k before leaving to support myself.
  • Teach and Study Abroad – earn my TEFL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certification online to teach abroad immediately. Upfront capital is under 10k, and allows me to work and support myself while attending university part time. which-way-from-here

Each carries its own pros and cons, but also its own levels of risk and commitment. I know saving several thousands of dollars will take years, making loans and local university slightly more appealing. Of course with that, I lose what I advocate most for: intercultural experience. Teaching English abroad while attending grad school seems the happy medium, but how difficult will balancing work with school be in a foreign country?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

This is where I leave you, for now; the research and soul searching continues.

Updates will follow.