Friday, November 2, 2007

Studying or Teaching Abroad

When I was a little kid, I lived in Germany because my mom had gotten a Fulbright to teach English. It was a rough year for a lot of reasons, but I survived (obviously), and while this wasn't my first experience traveling internationally, I have been back to Europe (and Germany) since. I've had friends in college since who were very excited about traveling to Europe - or Asia, or the Middle East, or wherever - and wanted to study abroad (in fact, I've one acquaintance from Stony Brook Univ. who is now studying in France for the academic year) - and I would really like to go to Jerusalem and Asia and Eastern Europe - but I was never really interested in studying abroad per se. For one thing, I have Chris, who for some reason keeps insisting that he has to work, which is highly inconvenient. Plus, I was never really interested in studying abroad, or living abroad. I've only recently gotten more or less okay with being abroad. (Or being a broad, if this were 1942.)

One of my professors, who directs the LIU Writing Center, spent part of the academic year in South Africa (the other part of the academic year in Europe) last year, doing various bits of writing center work, helping, for example, some universities establish writing centers or at least help with staff development, and doing research. Another professor in the English department had herself independently does some literary research in the Gambia, and had spent the entire year there. Last week both professors had led a faculty forum talking about their experiences, showing a few pictures, etc. It was really interesting, and I've made my professor promise to let me ask her all the questions I have stored up. (She and her partner and their son all went together; I want to hear about where she lived, what the people were like, what they ate, where and how they traveled, what kind of research she's doing, how she decided upon South Africa and Europe, and where in Europe, and, and, and!)

The other professor had been very encouraging of all those who were in attendance to consider applying to the Fulbright program, and passed out some information, and it's like this little ding went off in my head; that maybe it might be an interesting experience, teaching English abroad, or maybe studying the connections between writing centers and something that I haven't quite figured out that would be interesting to study in conjunction with them. I've had a few people ask me in the past few weeks what I'm professionally interested in, and aside from the connections between technology and writing centers, or technology and writing...I just don't know. I think that's my topic. But I don't know how to translate that into research yet. And so therefore I don't know how to translate that into a viable research proposal for Fulbright. I have been thinking about going to Japan or China or Poland and teaching English, but I don't want to do any of that until I graduate, at which point I'll still have Chris hanging about insisting that, for some reason, he still wants to have a paycheck, which will still be highly inconvenient. Teaching is kind of my easy way out, in a sense, for traveling and living abroad.

I think it would pretty neat to do some work in Ireland, but there are a lot of countries to choose from. Some of them want me to speak the language (which will eliminate them) or only want people of a certain academic background (i.e., medical sciences), which will eliminate a few more. I guess the first thing to do is to talk to my campus representative and figure out which end is up.

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