Sometime in the next few weeks, we’ll have a better idea of what we’re doing next school year. Maybe. But there’s a lot of uncertainty involved, and I’m pretty nervous about all of it.
Dallas should find out about all of his fellowship applications sometime this month or early next month. We basically have four options in front of us:
- Move back to Mount Pleasant for Dallas to take up a teaching fellowship like those he’s held the past couple of years, except instead of taking classes himself, he’d be writing his dissertation when he’s not teaching. And I’d be back in the loop of applying for jobs, getting asked “why would you want to work here, you have a master’s degree”, and being passed over because there are a ton of undergrads willing to work a few hours here and a few hours there. The big disadvantage of Mount Pleasant, other than the lack of opportunities for me in the immediate area, is that Dallas hates Michigan weather and gets pretty depressed in the winter.
- Move to metro Washington, DC, where Dallas has applied for a fellowship that he really, really wants. He’s not confident that he will be offered this position because it’s kind of a big deal and a lot of the past recipients have been from bigger schools with much larger PhD programs, but you never know until you try, right? If he gets it, he would basically be a researcher in residence at a facility that’s extremely important in his field for the term of the next academic year. I would probably have more job opportunities in one of my fields there; the problems would be a) few jobs due to funding, b) lots of other people with those educational backgrounds also wanting those jobs, and c) the possibility of a very long commute every day. However, there would be more places to apply for jobs in general, and the possibility that even if I was working outside my field, I could still volunteer in a museum or similar environment, which might help me get a job in one of my fields later.
- Stay in Georgia if Dallas gets a research/writing fellowship he applied for, which doesn’t require him to be in residence someplace specific. Most likely we’d both try to get into a community college adjunct pool for teaching experience/a little extra income. If we stayed here, I’m not sure if we’d continue to live with his parents or if we’d move into our own place. He’s kind of tossed out the idea of moving up towards Atlanta if there’s the chance either (or both) of us could find good jobs with the stability and income required to live up there. I think the greatest advantage to staying here would be that this is Dallas’ home: he’s familiar with the area, his family is here, snow and negative wind chills and permacloud are unusual.
- Romania. The elephant in the room. It would be a big deal if he got that Fulbright, but his mom and I are both against him leaving the country for another year. He applied to take me as a “dependent” if he gets it, meaning he would get a little bit of extra fellowship money because it’s unlikely I could get a work visa and a job teaching English if I initially went over there as his dependent, but we would have to get married before I could go with him as a dependent. I’m honestly not sure his parents or mine would be cool with that, since they (and we) were all in favor of us waiting until he’s almost done with his PhD to get married. It would, for me, essentially be a repeat of the last year we were in Mount Pleasant: I wouldn’t have a job and would feel pretty isolated, especially since I don’t speak even enough Romanian to get by at the market or to ask for directions if I got lost. I could learn, but it would be one more level of stress to try and cram as much as I could into my brain so I wouldn’t look like an idiot or end up in some kind of trouble.
He’s already tentatively accepted the university’s offer of a graduate teaching assistantship for next school year, with the understanding that if he gets offered comparable or better funding through an outside organization, he would accept that instead and the teaching position would go to someone else.
Unless we end up being able to stay put right here in middle Georgia, some serious scrambling is going to have to happen in late July and early August. We’d have to find a place to live, pack up, move, and learn (or relearn, in the case of a move back to Michigan) our surroundings, and we’d only have about three or four weeks to do all of that. Not to mention I’d need to find a job somewhere in there and get my health insurance straightened out (my current insurance essentially only covers me within the state of Georgia). So I’m trying not to stress out too much about that. (And let’s just not talk about the prospect of a Fulbright fellowship, which would send Dallas to Romania. Just thinking about moving somewhere else in the United States is stressful enough.)
I think the scenario that would give us the most generous timeline would be if Dallas got the fellowship in DC, but we’d still only have–at most–five weeks to move ourselves and our stuff to a large, unfamiliar metro area, so we’d have the added obstacle of trying to find a reasonably-priced apartment in a relatively safe place with access to public transit (and hopefully not a super-long commute, but if it ended up that way, I guess we’d make the best of it). We’d really only have about three weeks to get moved back to Mount Pleasant, but at least we know people there and know the city, and it’s a pretty inexpensive place to live.
I guess what I’m nervous about isn’t the actual moving (though that will be pretty stressful!), it’s the uncertainty. I like having a plan in place before I do anything, especially something big and life-changing, and due to the timeline of Dallas’ final return from Germany and when he’d need to be available to start whatever he’s doing next academic year, there’s just not a lot of time to get things done. Chances are, we’ll find out where we’re going to be next year either right before he leaves to go finish the school year in Germany or right after he gets back there, meaning we won’t have the opportunity to get a lot of pre-planning done, or the ability to go find a place and sign a lease to start when we’d need to get there for him to start his fellowship. I find it unlikely that I’d be able to sign a lease by myself, especially if we ended up someplace where the rents are high, because it’s a lot less likely that I’d have a great job waiting for me wherever we were going, and his position would be guaranteed for the school year. And honestly, I’m not sure I’d want to pick a place for us without him there to see it and to get a good idea of how long his commute would be to work if we ended up in a big city.
So yeah. Anxiety. I seriously almost threw up writing this because I haaaaaate not knowing what’s going to happen.