Although I often mention my life in academia, there’s a lot I’ve been leaving out of our discussions here on A Ticket for Two. I’m not a witchy kind of person typically, but I was afraid that if I spoke about things I would jinx myself somehow. Long story short, I’ve been working on an application for a PhD program.
The process has sent me through a whirlwind of emotions that led me to a few conclusions about myself and my life in general. The application was something that I sat on for a bit. I took my time, perhaps too much time, writing my writing sample and personal essay. I was unsure about how honest to be on the personal essay. Should I talk about how burned out I felt in the process of getting my Master’s degree? Should I mention how difficult it was to settle on a topic for my writing sample? Should I talk about how my whole life has been pushing me to create a certain body of work, but suddenly now that I’m teaching abroad in Spain, I’m having all sorts of doubts?
I submitted the essays and then fretted about my recommendations. What will they say? “Kris’tina was a real character in my classes, but she was so lazy. I gave her a journal article about how black youth use the internet and she didn’t even read the whole thing!” (true story, one of my advisors has been trying to steer me in the direction of a PhD since freshman year of my bachelor’s degree, and she would give me academic journal articles all the time for reading material).
All the while, I was spending time in Spain, contemplating if I was ready to come back home. I hadn’t learned as much Spanish as I would have liked, and at that point I was trying to rectify the apathy I thought I felt with the wanderlust my heart was experiencing. I started a few applications for teaching abroad in other countries, but hadn’t completed them because I couldn’t resolve my urge to take five years plus to finish a PhD, as well as spend another year (or two!) abroad.
In the end, my worries were outdone by my work. I got an email saying that I was invited to interview for the PhD program.
I spent weeks prepping answers to common questions. I bought a separate notebook for research notes, reading about the faculty and writing down information from their work. Refamiliarizing myself with theories and research in my field. I didn’t want to be interviewing sounding like Jaden and WIllow Smith. I mean, they’re good kids, but sometimes they talk like they’re the first to come up with ideas.
I didn’t want to be interviewing and say, “Yes, I think that society develops through class struggle. There are two main classes of society, one that controls the means of production and the other that has its labor exploited for production.”
“Yes, Karl Marx thought the same thing in the 1840s.”
When it came time for the interview, I sat in my kitchen here in Spain and waited for the Skype call. The moment the clock struck 5, I received the call. I answered and all of the core faculty sat at one end of a boardroom table, and there I was, a camera at the other end. I wasn’t expecting all of them at once, and I giggled the entire interview out of nervousness. I know I accidentally called one of the faculty members Ms. instead of Dr. and I kicked myself for it all week.
The next week, I helped out some students with mock job interviews on language and presentation, and then it hit me that I hadn’t thanked the faculty for giving me the opportunity to interview. I sent them an email during my lunch break that day.
Later, back home and sitting in my bed I saw that the deadline for one of the teaching abroad applications I had was extended. Just as I thought, “This is a sign that I should finish my applicat-” my phone beeped with an email. My letter of acceptance via email for the PhD program.
My parents raised my sister and I so that we would have as many opportunities as possible. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I have earned and been provided all the choices in the world, and a loving family to fall back on should I stumble. Every now and then when I’m stressed out, I try to take a step back and say,
“These are really, really good problems.”
I’m often paralyzed by too many choices. I’m afraid to commit to anything, because in my head, the wrong decision will follow me for years. What if I stay in Madrid another year, earn native-like Spanish fluency and begin a new life as a high-paid English tutor for the Royal Family’s children? What if I go to South Korea, become a professional chef with the greatest kalguksu made by a foreigner, no, the greatest kalguksu period?
Or what if I go back home to the states and become the academic I was meant to be?
I say all of this to say, I’m feeling extremely fortunate right now to have been awarded the opportunities that I have. I don’t consider myself to be a travel blogger, I’m an academic at heart. So the fact that an institution of higher learning agrees with me and wants to see to it that I continue to develop and grow is… astounding to me. I can’t believe it.
So thanks for listening and… see you around.