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Prague Blog: Preliminary -- Why?

Since I decided to uproot my entire life, move to a country I have never visited, and train in a career I have no experience with, people have often asked me, "Why?" I'm sure that many of them likely were wondering 'WHY?!?!?!" but, if so, they were polite enough to hide that fact. So, here, as the first (unofficial, preliminary) installment of my Prague Blog, I thought I would try to make the case for why this isn't a completely ridiculous thing to do.

The first starting premise for this is probably a key facet of my personality: I don't like things. Not, "there are things I don't like," but rather, on the whole, I don't care about physical things. I am not a thing person.* To a lesser extent, but still worth mentioning, I am not a creature comforts person. It is true that I go a bit stir crazy when I don't have access to walkable shops, etc., and I do have a great fondness for hot and cold running water and HVAC , but my needs in terms of living space are, by modern American standards, modest.

These factors matter because, when a personal health issue (fine now, thanks) caused me to go on leave from work for a while, I had time to really consider *what* I was doing with my life. I had found a very good job, with a great team, at a great company, that allowed me a comfortable life. But I simply wasn't happy. And since I was (and am) single, have no children relying on me, etc., my own personal happiness is essentially my only guiding focus. This is where the things come in. I realized that I would happily have far fewer things if I felt more fulfilled generally. When I returned to work, I made some moves, but realized it just wasn't the right place for me anymore. So, I left.

And spent the next 6 months trying to get into grad school.

Wait...what?

Yup, as wasted as those 6 months occasionally seems to me now, my first instinct was to pick up my academic career 15 years after I had let it go slack. I read, I studied, I tested, and I applied. And, resoundingly, the schools didn't want me. Nope. Not a chance. No way. While I am sure there are many things I could or would change if I were to go through that nonsense again, at the time, I truly felt as if I had done my best. I wanted to go to grad school in a way that was exhilarating. I even fantasized about the life of a grad student--a perverse fantasy, indeed. So, as the parade of negations poured in, I succumbed to melancholy, if only briefly.

However, being fundamentally a boringly practical man, I had already concocted my back-up plans. This whole "what's my purpose?" question has centered around teaching and pedagogy for a long time, so I knew that, even if grad school was a no go (in my hubris, I was certain I would get in somewhere), I wanted to teach. This instinct, combined with the *one* thing having a nice income provided me that I truly enjoyed--the opportunity to travel--led me, in short order, to the idea of teaching abroad. I have several friends who have done it over the years, and it seemed a great way to kick start my somewhat moribund existence.

So, that was settled, and I set myself to deciding where to go. To be honest, that was an easier task than it might be for many. I quickly settled on Europe, and from Europe on the Czech Republic (or Czechia as it is sometimes known), not only because it's relatively easy to get a visa and a teaching job there, but also because my grandfather emigrated from a town not far from Prague just over a century ago. So, in some ways, going there will be like a homecoming.

So, in about 35 days, I will be in a plane for Prague, and about 5 days after that, sitting in class for my first day of learning how to teach English.

Perhaps you would like to support my blogging? And get a special podcast and other patrons-only material? Then check out my Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/sjcaustenite--anything is very appreciated. There will be a few other preliminary posts before the proper Prague Blog begins in early October, but there's no harm in committing early! ;-)




*I once said this to a friend, who countered, "Why don't you just say you're not materialistic?" In case you're wondering, the answer is because saying "I'm not materialistic" is a very value-laden statement, implying that the speaker has achieved some purer, better state. I make no such claim and don't blame anyone for loving the physical objects they love--whether they be action figures or fine china. You do you.

Comments

  1. What an exciting change for you, Erik! Unsurprisingly, I'm jealous of the journey you're about to embark upon, but I'm excited to follow along with you virtually. :)

    Best of luck to you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Teaching is a wonderful life choice. Congrats and good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dude, its gonna be amazing! Cant wait to read about your experiences. Keep in touch!

    ReplyDelete

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