8 months ago I decided that I no longer wanted to live in San Diego. I had finished my master’s degree and was ready to move on and put this place behind me. Thanks to the economy, and my desire to work in a field where English teachers are a dime a dozen, I was forced into taking a full-time gig in San Diego and abandoning my escape plans. I had put the idea of a PhD. on hold and settled for a crappy night job in hopes of having the time to hunt down permanent teaching gigs and working my way out of San Diego. The longer I was out of school though, the more I itched to be back in the classroom. For the first 23 years of my life I had staked my entire identity on being a student. It was the only thing that I knew how to do really well (besides sarcasm) and I found myself getting lost in a world of routine schedules and lonely night shifts. Five months into the new job working nights and I felt like a zombie. I didn’t get to see my friends, I wasn’t learning anything new, and I slowly losing my sense of self. When it became clear to me that a full-time teaching gig was not on my horizon, I decided that the only way I was going to become a better candidate for jobs was to get another degree.
My family likes to joke that I am a perpetual student, and if I could be one, I would, but I honestly felt like adding another skill set to my bag of tricks would make me stand out in a job interview. I began to hunt for programs that I could complete onlline, and in a short amount of time, so that I could teach a wider variety of classes and make myself more marketable. At first I wasn’t looking for PhD. programs, I was just looking at certificate programs and classes that would allow my to teach reading or ESL classes. None of the programs I found seemed that interesting, and as people around me settled down to get married, have kids, or start their careers, the only thing I found myself wanting to do was run as far away from here as possible. I started looking into teaching English abroad, and possibly going to school. The first place I looked at was New Zealand. It is a well known fact to those who love me that I have a thing for sheep farmers, and New Zealand seemed like the perfect place to go to find a hot sheep farmer to sweep me off my feet. While I was thinking about school, I was also thinking about the upcoming family vacation to Ireland. They have sheep farmers there too, so I figured applying to school there wouldn’t be so bad either. Further research into the schools there and the types of programs they have led me to believe that I wouldn’t be a good fit, so I googled “Colleges and universities in the U.K.” University of Edinburgh was one of the returns, and once I saw that they had a literacy program, and that the application process was free, I figured that I didn’t have anything to lose by applying. I didn’t really know anything about the school, and I had never been to Scotland, but I figured it wasn’t costing me anything more than 500 words to apply, so I would have nothing to lose.
I submitted the application at Thanksgiving, and didn’t give it another thought. I applied for a handful of full-time teaching jobs in Orange County and I started working with my mom on a new way to teach developmental writing. It wasn’t until the end of February when U of E emailed and asked for some more details that I even thought about the application. The only thing that I said when they emailed me offering me a place in the program was “I got in” The first person I called was my mom, and when she didn’t answer, I left her a rambling message that made no sense, and then I called Kelly. After that I text everyone I could think of telling them I got in. I could not sit still. Work no longer seemed important. I got in. I had my escape route.
When I finally did talk to my mom, she immediately started talking about all of the things that practical people think of when applying to school. How was I going to pay for it? What was the cost? Where was I going to live? When did I have to give an answer? How did I know I could live there? I didn’t have any answers beyond “I got in” and at that moment, I didn’t care. All I knew was that I had gotten into the University of Edinburgh and I hadn’t been that happy or excited about anything in years. I knew that there was no way I was going to turn down the offer, so, despite my mom’s misgivings, I accepted the offer, site unseen.
So now I have six months to nail down a place to live, find funding, get a job, and make a list of the all of the places that I want to visit and all of the things I want to see while I am living in the U.K.