Monday, May 13, 2013

The Future Hopefully

We visited Ed's family last night which further confirmed that I do not want to be a teacher.  I don't ever want to have to grade papers or make up activities/exams while I'm at home or visiting people.  Today my students were very disruptive and loud.  I'm tired of having to discipline other people's kids.  I want a job where I get respect and I'm appreciated for the work that I do.  Those things do not happen when I work as a teacher.  I dread coming to work every Monday.

I would really like to be a doctor.  I also want to invest in properties.  I want to buy properties and rent them out.  The first one would be logically to pay off our house, rent it out, and then we'd move to a better neighborhood/school district.

This summer I'm going to temp to earn extra money.  I'm also going to volunteer at a hospital and apply for some post-bach medical programs.

The plan is to get into medical school and then join the army so that they will pay back all my medical loans.

I just know that I can't teach for much longer.  It's a miserable job and there aren't many positions anyway.  It's not a secure job like it used to be (which was one of its only advantages).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wanderlust and Regrets

I've discovered two blogs, both about travels abroad.  In one I get to share in the adventures of a former friend/acquaintance who transfered after sophomore year, ended up graduating at a state school, and now is a PeaceCorps volunteer working in Senegal.  She works in the field of environmental education.  The other blog is by a Canadian English/French teacher living in London, who has been traveling abroad since she graduated from college.  Both women are independent and strong, following their dreams, and making traveling a priority in their lives.

I will be traveling to San Juan, PR this July for a conference on teaching Spanish to heritage speakers, but I feel like this trip will not be enough to satisfy my wanderlust.  It feels unnatural for me to have lived in a place for so long.  Philadelphia/Camden and its surrounding suburbs does not feel like home to me.  The culture is vastly different from what I grew up with and I don't want to live here any longer than I have to.  I moved here for a job, I bought a house because I thought it was a good investment and after having lived here for over a year, I feel like it was a mistake.  I feel rooted here against my will.

I've been thinking a lot about all of the things that I could do and all the places that I could visit if I hadn't attended an expensive university, then went back to school and added another $46,000 to my already high debt, then bought a house on top of that (that required signinficant and costly repairs).  I thought that I couldn't do what I wanted after undergrad, but now I really can't afford to do the things that I wanted to do (like join the Peace Corps, which I've wanted to do since I was a teenager). 

I would need to pay off a lot of debt before I could even possibly apply to such a position, because they look at your financial obligations before they consider you as a possibility.  I will say, though, that my teaching experience and degree in Education would be an asset. 

Every time I try to figure out a way to pay off my debt quickly I hit a wall.  I think that maybe it's not possible to make any real headway on it for at least 10 years and by then I'll probably be thinking about retirement and not even want to do the same things that I've been wanting to do. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Dreamlike State of Things

Teaching English abroad is looking better and better every day. I keep fantasizing about moving to Spain or Portugal and finding a nice, cheap apartment and writing. I even like the idea of living in the countryside. When I'm away from Philly and south Jersey I feel like this fantasy is possible. There is a coffeetable book at the bed and breakfast where Ed and I are staying and it's titled something like "World Heritage Sites", although it seems to mainly just list cities and sites in Europe. Various places in eastern Europe and Russia look beautiful, as does Lisbon, Portugal and Cairo, Egypt. I feel lazy here and daydream about traveling when I've already traveled to get here to dc. I have no desire anymore to take the metro to see the National Tree all lit up. It's nice to just relax and write, although breakfast was not enjoyable or relaxing (cereal, pastries, and bread, no cooked food and our room regularly costs $185 per night!). One of the employees kept introducing guests to one another and getting people's names wrong and she started talking trash talk on the occupy movement when two of the guests have a daughter that works for a nonprofit that collaborates with international human rights activists.

We went to a birthday party last night...and left after two hours. The host asked us to go out and get plates, cups, and bowls.  We went on a quest to find these things (in the hood) and returned 20-30 minutes later only to find that the roommate already had all of these things hidden away in the kitchen.  Then the host looked annoyed at us for not being social enough when he didn't introduce us to anyone and I only recognized two people there.  There was not enough food and the space was very tight so that people constantly had to get up and move because they were in other people's way.  Enough said.

We're going to meet up with Evelyn today at a Lebanese restaurant. We went to an Afghan restaurant yesterday, which was pretty good but I should not have had the wine with the food. Very bad combination that gave me stomach pains.
Had a lovely visit with Evelyn at a Lebanese restaurant.  The Afghan Grill last night had better food.  We will see Evelyn again later tonight.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Damned If You Do

I'm not sure which is better getting paid next to nothing for something I love or getting paid loads for something I hate.  It seems like it's all a trick, that you get cheated either way.  Love your work but be stressed out about paying bills or hate your work and keep the house. 

How does anyone get rich?  They say it's by taking risks.  But it seems like a risky business either way.  Do what you love and land yourself in the poor house.  Do what irks your soul to the core and keep the bill collection agencies at bay.  Deep inside I feel like the only people getting rich are the ones writing the books that pull you in either direction.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rosetta Stone and Career Ruminations

It took me over an hour to download the software, but I finally have Rosetta Stone.  I guess I'll start with level 1, even though I'm probably somewhere between levels 2 and 3, just to see what's on it. 

I looked up the deadline for application to the MA program in Translation Studies at Rutgers and it turns out it's January 3rd.  I'm not sure I could get everything together by then.  I think I could get the essays in Spanish and English done, but I'm not sure who to ask for recommendations or if I could get them in time to apply.  I had been thinking that maybe I could get a recommendation from the administration at my school, but I'm not sure that the timing's good on that. 

It will take me awhile to get through all five of the Rosetta Stone discs so maybe I should just start with that and then apply for the MA next year.

Today there was a PFT meeting and we found out that another $50,000 will be cut from the operating budget of the school.  So, they're either going to lay off a secretary and send one or two part time teachers to another school (or they will get cut, I'm not sure).  We will not have any supplies next year, which seems no different from this year.  I'm told it will be even more "bare bones" at the school.  It sounds like it will be a good time to leave come June.

I still want to work at a non-profit organization or even a government job (although those are getting increasingly cut it seems).  I care about the environment, animals, writing, human rights...but I'm not sure how to turn that into a job that I love.  I'm not sure what skills, certifications, educational credentials, etc. that I need to successfully enter a career that I love, or what that career would be.  I know that I do not want to work in education forever...or even beyond 1-3 years...and that's about it.  I'd really love to leave the field at the end of this year, but I'm not sure with the recession that it's even a possibility.  Probably not.

I know that what makes the most sense, financially, is to just stay at my job for the next 2-3 years, save money, and sell the house when the housing market improves.  But, I get so stressed out by work and I know that I am not best suited to the job.  I do not enjoy interacting with so many people (almost 900 a week) and I'm not very good at dealing with so many personalities.  I much prefer office work or research that I can complete independently or if I have to interact with people, on an individual basis.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Degree in Translation

When I first got the idea to go back to school to study Spanish (after I had already graduated with a degree in English), I wanted to study Spanish/English translation.  I realized shortly after beginning the program, that there was no way that I could graduate with a focus in translation within my limited two year time frame and I couldn't financially afford to stay longer.  So, I switched to Spanish with a focus on linguistics figuring that through studying the structure of the Spanish language and learning about aspects of various dialects I would improve my understanding of written and spoken Spanish.  But, I have always wished that I could have studied translation instead. 

I keep coming back to the idea of getting an MA in Translation from Rutgers.  I've always felt that a focus on translation would improve my level of fluency more than anything else by challenging me so much that it would force me to rapidly increase my knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.  I'm not sure that anything will actually do that besides being forced to speak, read, and write it in everyday life in a natural setting like in Spain or a country in Latin America, but it remains how I feel in my gut. 

Now, I have a job at a school where there are students of various levels of fluency in Spanish (speaking, reading, writing).  Since the vast majority of the students are not at native fluency (especially with regards to writing and reading), they realize that learning a language is a process (unlike my coworkers who think that native-like fluency magically occurs after a month or less) and they recognize that there are things that they can learn from me (grammar, spelling, some vocabulary).  So, they do not challenge my knowledge of Spanish.  A few of them have parents that struggle with English language acquisition and various teachers have requested, in the hallway or at random points when they see me in the library, to provide them with interpretation services so that they may communicate with the parents of their students.  I agree to do so only because 1.) I believe that the students will benefit, 2.) I know the language, and 3.) I can't think of any legitimate reason not to besides that I'm not getting paid for it. 

The first time I interpreted for a teacher, I agreed to do so for one teacher and then four teachers showed up expecting me to interpret for all of them.  I found that some of the discipline procedures that they wanted me to explain I could not communicate in Spanish because 1.) I'm not familiar with the discipline procedures for the school yet or what the school will actually carry out vs. what they claim that they will carry out and 2.) I just do not know some of the vocabulary in Spanish.  Also, some of the actions that they wanted me to describe that their student did were 1.) very specific and I couldn't think of how to say them at the time and 2.) they did not pause for me to interpret (or even think of how to interpret them).  The teachers seemed disappointed at my interpretation skills (when it was the first time I've even ever attempted to interpret for someone) and they came off as ungrateful and rude to me.  The parent on the other hand was extremely appreciative and lovely. 

Today, was the second time that I have interpreted and I had a much more positive experience.  The mother of the student is Dominican and I understood almost everything that she said to me (except one sentence, which was directed at me rather than the other teacher and didn't really matter since I was only confused about whether she was talking about herself or her daughter and am pretty sure that I got the gist of it otherwise).  I told the teacher to slow down and she gave me adequate enough pauses that I could interpret for her.  None of the information that she wanted me to intepret was difficult or complicated in any way and neither was the information that the parent wanted me to interpret.  It was a very pleasant experience.  I was cordial to the parent and she was likewise very polite and lovely.  She also thanked me for taking the time to be there and interpret for me.  I felt appreciated and like I was actually helping someone.  I was aiding in the communication process helping two people who would otherwise not be able to communicate with one another discuss a child's progress. It felt energizing.  I felt like, maybe this is what I'm supposed to do with my life.  I actually kind of looked forward to the next time that I would need to interpret for someone.  But, I suppose that a key difference is that this time I was only intepreting for two people (three when I interpreted once for the student) as opposed to five (counting the parent and four teachers).  I also made sure early on to tell the teacher to slow down and pause so that I could interpret what she was saying before I forgot what she had said and she actually adjusted herself and did so (unlike in the other meeting where the teachers spoke whole paragraphs or more of discourse at a time instead of pausing every other sentence).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Spanish and Figuring Out New Year's Resolutions

I was looking at Rosetta Stone today (since thanks to Cyber Monday it was $100 off) and realized that I would probably fall somewhere between level 2 or 3 in their program.  It seemed a little ridiculous given that I scored Advanced Low on the Oral Proficiency Exam and that's all you need to teach Spanish in NJ or PA.  I felt a little sad. I mean, I've taken Spanish since I was in middle school (so that's something like 14 years).  I know that I've learned most of what they list in levels 1-3, but I've forgotten a lot over the years. So, I bought levels 1-5, even though I felt slightly embarrassed about it.  I feel like I shouldn't need to buy the program since I've had so much schooling, but honestly, unless I live in a country where Spanish is the main language spoken, I'll never speak anywhere close to a native.

One of my goals for the new year is to improve my speaking and reading ability in the language (and generally just improve my vocabulary and grammar).  I figured Rosetta Stone might be a painless way to go about it.  I'd like to at some point retake the Oral Proficiency Exam and score 1-2 levels above what I did the first time I took it (my life goal would be to score a Superior on the scale).  When I took it in 2009, I had been taking a workshop at Rutgers specifically geared towards the test, been watching movies in Spanish, practicing my conversational skills with a friend over the phone, and I believe, I was reading stories in Spanish as well.  Now, I practice speaking with my fiance's family although I don't even answer in complete sentences (I mostly just listen and nod my head, occasionally saying "si").  Still, I speak in Spanish everyday at work to my students.  I learn new words everyday at work. I should, I suppose, keep a journal of these new words, but every time I do that it seems to be a useless and boring enterprise.

I also want to learn Portuguese within the next two years, since Ed and I plan on going to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.  It's something to look forward to, for sure.  When we saw Turkey play the US in Philly last year it was amazing (not World Cup, but still pretty good; I imagine the World Cup would be even better!).  I will, of course, have to save a lot of money for this trip.

Ed has switched his research interest to the moriscos.  So, we might go to Spain at some point, which means I need to brush up on 'vosotros' and other grammar points.  I also need to learn the Spanish (Spain specific) words for various things.  I need to save money for that/those trip(s) as well.

In totally unrelated news, I've been watching House Hunters International and been thinking about how beautiful parts of Eastern Europe are.  At some point, I'll have to travel around in that region.  I've always wanted to go to Prague, but now I'm adding places like Warsaw and random places in the countryside of Slovenia.