Monday, March 23, 2009

Summer Blues

Last Friday was the first day of Spring but I'm already dreading summer. What is it that gets me down (besides my fear of sunburns and sweating while standing still)? The absence of school.

When I was a kid I thought winter break should last three months and that we could continue going to school in the summer. Many a frigid winter morning when I was a kid I would stand in knee-deep Utah snow waiting for the bus and wish I were at home hibernating like the rest of God's creatures. I still love the cold, the snow, and believe that keeping kids off the roads in the winter just makes more sense, but I'm probably in the minority there.

Yes, even today I wish for summer-school. When summer comes it means I have to get a job in retail, let my mind go stagnant, and spend my time wishing I could be in a classroom somewhere. Let's face it, if I'm not hiking or eating icecream I'm dissatisfied with the whole summer experience.

Even more troubling is the fact that once this school semester ends, I will have a 15-month hiatus from school before I can start a Ph.D. program. So I've started weighing my options and I've decided to let friends and family vote on my future. I'll probably make the decision on my own anyway, but this at least will have the trappings of a democracy. Please select one of the following, with an explanation of your choice:

1) Teaching English abroadI've thought about ditching the USA for a year to teach English in Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, or some other Portuguese-speaking country. (East Timor anyone?!) Not only can you pick this option, but you can weigh in on which country I should go to. I think I might even consider a country whose language I do not know. I loved living in Brazil for two years, love foreign cultures, teaching and learning languages, etc. etc. The down-side is that I've heard it's a very difficult and long process (3-6 months) to get a work visa and usually you need a sponsor employer before going. I could go to Brazil on a tourist visa (renewed every three months) but I don't think it's exactly legal, so due to my moral leanings that's out. I also worry about getting shot, mugged, or abducted but that could happen anywhere, right?

2) Tutoring full-time
I could stay in D.C. (I think I have an apartment lined up in Parkside if I want it) and try my hand at tutoring elementary and high school students. The plus-side is that people are willing to pay exorbitant rates for tutors and I already have a friend involved in it and he said he could find me some work. Moreover, I would still be relatively near my family and I still be in DC 2nd. I also love the idea of the tutor-student system, which is almost totally absent from our public education system. The down-side is that I have little experience, so I can't charge $100/hour, meaning I need to work more hours and I need to buy a car. I'd also be trying to start in the summer, when kids are on break (see my above grumblings) so work would be slow when I need it most. Plus, I won't be living in Brazil.

3) Teaching at a community college
I've already applied to teach at Montgomery Community College in Maryland and I can also apply to Prince George CC. Both are Metro-accessible so I wouldn't need to buy a car or move any farther than next-door to where I live now. Teaching would look great on my resume and it would be the closest thing to what my future career will look like, but for some reason, this option seems the least appealing to me. Maybe it's the thought of standing in front of forty students day after day, week after week knowing that if I assign a five-page paper it amounts to hundreds of pages of student-writing to read at home. *cringe*


  1. Foreign country anything has alway been a good option to me. And I'm happy to come visit you in any of the countries you listed.

  2. Being the realist that I am, my vote is number 3 (ouch!). I know it may not be the funnest option, but if it could help you to get good experience in the career field you want to be in, then that's the way to go.

    Interesting enough all 3 options are teaching in one way or another, so let's face it you're going to be in school no matter which of these options you choose. Just as the teacher instead of the student. Summer Blues cured?

  3. I say go for option 1. I loved my experience abroad, and it's a good time in your life to take advantage of such an opportunity. And you'll get to use your language skills (I'm assuming you know Portuguese). Oh, and thanks for sharing your tips with me.

  4. :) I'm reading your blog right now as a way to avoid grading the very essays you just mentioned! Teaching community college is great, but they already have their summer (and probably fall) rosters full, I've checked. That's not to say that you have no chance. Someone could very well back out; that's how I got my second class. So . . .I say go foreign.

  5. Um, we're not the same. I love love summer. Stay here. Please. Thank you.

  6. Well, Isaac and I say go for number 1. It sounds like that's what you want to do the most. It also sounds like it's an opportune time for you to go. You only get one shot at life, so do what makes you happy. Although we would miss you terribly, you'd be back in a few months, no biggie. :) Isaac would like to add, "As for being mugged abroad, worst case scenario, you might have a couple of cookies stolen."