My ‘Escape from America’ Plan
The night I finally decided how I was going to support myself and live in Europe I couldn’t sleep. My battle plan had been raging for the past five years and the analysis had driven me to paralysis for the past eight months. I had brainstormed my friends half-dead and I had begun to accept my fate in the land of asphalt and sunshine…also known as Atlanta.
The enactment of my new plan would be the third attempt since graduating in 2002 to live and work in Europe, such a vague idea to all except the protagonist in question. Brainstorming phase one consisted of a skill with case in point country’s need. My sophomore year in 2000, I mentioned to my Resident Head my dream of going back to Germany to live, although at that point I was studying political philosophy. I had no realistic idea of the US job market, let alone the European. A few days later my RH sent me an article of Germans giving Green Cards to IT specialists, writing this could be my ticket back. I wonder if I had changed my major to Computer Science whether I would have even been able to graduate or if I won’t now be writing of my third attempt at achieving the impossible possible. There were even a few days in the summer of 2003 when I considered social work, since Britain needed social workers. I know; I’m bad.
Brainstorming phase two consisted of my Asian parent’s conviction that the ONLY way crazy whack idea of mine would ever work was to join the foreign service or to become a teacher, whereby I could travel for a whole two months out of the year. Both not bad ideas, but glitches did exist such as the 16,000-a-year registration of Americans trying to take the foreign service written exam. Trying to follow their advice and also realizing the benefits of going abroad with the foreign service, I took the test twice and failed. As for teaching, outside of being a professor, I haven’t had the best image of teachers growing up. It seemed like a suburban, modest life and I wanted an international cosmopolitan one. As for teaching English abroad, maybe it’s the teenage rebellion in me living on but read above, I’ve never had a good image of it. Anyways, everyone goes into teaching English abroad and the jobs usually go to people that actually look like they can speak English, which isn’t me. I look like I can speak Chinese, although it’s technically Korean.
The third phase consisted of my trying to find a concrete/technical trade or skill that my philosophy degree did not provide. I contemplated interior design and architecture, both professions that I thought spoke a universal language of employment. After saying no to a more humanities approach to architecture in the Netherlands, I decided on applying to the ‘real’ thing back in the U.S. I applied and got accepted to a masters in architecture program in the U.S, but didn’t accept. Cold feet at the last minute, who knows, possibly the biggest mistake of my life, I have no clue.
Fourth strategy was suggested by a TA, that academia was not a bad way to go abroad. He was right -vit’s actually the ideal way to go. I knew tenured professors that spent half of the year abroad after two quarters of lecturing for six hours a week. However, I am no philosophical genius and the graduate students in our philosophy department literally looked like they were in pain, 7 to 10 years and going. They will have employment till they die, but at 22 I decided no Kant and Hegel for me.
Fifth brainstorming idea, which I never really liked, was to work in the US for a couple of years and then get transferred. This idea seemed the worst since it didn’t encompass any of my passions and I would literally be living for the day I would be transferred.
The sixth was just stating the obvious, which was to marry an EU citizen. I never considered this a serious option although it’s the first thing that comes out of anyone’s mouth after hearing me talk.
Not able to choose a strategy/career, I instead participated in programs that provided temporary work/internship permits to the UK and Germany through BUNAC and CDS International, experiences that left me believing office work was not for me.
After having canceled every single option available and back home after 2.5 years of wandering back and forth, I was left with something that could possibly make 100 dollars a year, freelance travel writing and photography, but I am hoping that one day it will be able to support me. Of course, I am also planning to intern, enroll in a German university once my German improves, take out loans, but I hope this solution will solve the nemesis of my early twenties and just let me live in Europe.