Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Name:
Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Crisis

Ok, probably some of you have noticed that the headline on my blog has changed, and others have received frantic phone calls from me... I'm having a mid-life crisis.

It's kind of premature, I know. Unless our calculations are based on the life expectancy of, say, Burkina Faso, I'm nowhere near mid-life. (I hope I live to be older than 47!)

But nonetheless, it seems to be the best possible label for what's going on inside my head right now.

Here's the deal: after spending my undergraduate career preparing to do linguistic fieldwork, applying exclusively to fieldwork-based grad programs in linguistics, and conducting actual fieldwork in some remote villages of Lusatia, I decided that linguistic fieldwork is not for me.

I do enjoy it on an intellectual level. It's fun, and it's very challenging. BUT in order to conduct fieldwork on a professional basis, you have to be willing to live in poor, remote regions for months at a time. And I've found that I just can't do this. Despite its lack of decent bus service and high unemployment rate (20%!), Lusatia is pretty posh by fieldwork standards. Even so, living here is doing nasty things to me. I'm depressed most of the time, I've been having a lot of seizures, and the loneliness is mind-numbing.

I still want to be a linguist. But I think I want to go into Slavic and Germanic Linguistics (yes, both) instead. This poses a problem, because the only Ph.D. program I applied to this year is very much fieldwork-driven. It no longer fits with my career goals. So, what I want to do is renew my TA-ship, spend a year in another part of Germany teaching English and learning to speak Russian (a must for Slavic Linguistics programs), and apply to a different set of graduate programs next fall.

The problem is, if my TA-ship isn't renewed, I'm kind of screwed. I won't be a student, won't be able to stay in Germany, and won't have a job. I'd have to be a rent-a-serf (i.e., 'office temp') for a year. Which wouldn't exactly look good on grad school applications.

I had a really nice plan for my life. And it's still quite workable. I just don't think it's the right plan anymore.

This is really, really disorienting.

5 Comments:

Anonymous christina said...

at least you're finding this out when you're still young! you've still got lots of youthful energy left to do what you gotta go :)

1:39 AM  
Blogger Ada said...

I know. That is the one good side to this-- at least I found out this year, and didn't get a Ph.D. from a fieldwork based program and THEN discover that I'd really rather do something else...

9:28 AM  
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