Friday, February 13, 2009

BIG Things to Think About for the AcadeFamily

After finding out that the search committee chair contacted my remaining two committee members last week, it looks like I'm still in the running for the job at a regional campus of my home university. This is a t-t position, with a 4/4 load, specifically in my field. While I'm trying to pretend I've forgotten about this, clearly I haven't. But, as of yet, it hasn't at all prevented me from getting work done or anything.

Yesterday, however, Hubby dropped a bombshell of an e-mail on me concerning a very different job opportunity. As it happens, there are faculty posts open in both his field and mine at an overseas branch (Middle East) of our university. Hubby had previously been made aware of a history position after a professor for whom he was a TA decided to sign a 3-yr contract to go over there. This professor mentioned that there would be a future opportunity for hubby to go, and hubby brought the idea up at home last year, at which point I promptly squashed the idea like a bug.

Yesterday, hubby received an e-mail from this professor that indicated two faculty posts were now open and the College of Liberal Arts was "desperate" to fill them. Furthermore, they'd be excited to get an academic couple, and this would likely give us an advantage during negotiations. He then explained the "obscene" salary (roughly 75% over the base starting salary for an assistant professor in the States), the fully furnished house provision, living costs, private school tuition for all children, $13,000 annual research/travel allowance, etc. Let's put it this way, we could be credit card debt free in two months, put a big dent in our student loan debt, and still come back with a huge down payment for a house. In short, there are NO economic disadvantages.

Oh, and the teaching load? It's a 2/1.

I've talked with my advisor, my committee member/placement director, a female faculty member who's there now, and the general sense is that people have enjoyed their time there. It's in a very wealthy and secure area, and though it's an Arab country, it's seen as a modern one.

The program director for the CLA gave me some initial details and said that if I was interested I should forward my CV within the day. I did (so did Hubby), and he's already mentioned us to the female faculty member/administrator who's there now.

My head is still spinning a bit, and there's so much I still have questions about. They plan to hold video interviews for the English post next week, and then for the history post shortly after. I know that if they're interested in us, they will fly us over, business-class, with no committment at all, so we can see the place, meet the people, etc.

Somehow, even the standard practice of making a list of pros and cons isn't helping me right now. This. Is. Just. So. Much. To think about right now. I generally have no concerns about the location, the economics, or the professional aspect. I'm always up for an adventure, and as long as I have my husband and children with me, I'm solid. My concerns rest solely on how this will impact my oldest daughter, who still has a biological father in Home State, which is currently 6 hours away. She, too, has an adventurous spirit and would no doubt benefit in many ways from the experience. But, I know there are intangibles, factors that I may not think about or that may come up after the fact, and those are the things that worry me.

I post all this here and now not for the purpose of concluding anything, but simply to introduce it to this space. To let it out of me so that I can -- please, please -- think about something else for a bit. I feel like it's all happening very fast, and I need it to slow down. For now, I want to be a sponge. I want feedback from as many people as possible, from as many angles as possible, and I want to just soak it all up. For now, I still have a dissertation to revise, and this *must* return to the forefront of my mind.


M said...

I can think of two questions right off the bat that I would want answered.

First, are you able to take H out of the country for such an extended period of time without her dad's approval? Given the experiences of friends, I think you may have to renegotiate your custody agreement (I can't remember how strict your current agreement is, but given what you've told me about your ex, I don't think he'd have any major objections to this so long as he still got to see H with some frequency.).

Second, how will working at this particular university look on your CV? Given the teaching load, it seems like you'd have a lot of time to get research done (and there is another question: do they have the facilities for you and Hubby to research in your areas?), so you could certainly make serious progress in terms of publication and research.

Oh, and here is a third: I know how close you are to your family. Are you mentally prepared to live in a different hemisphere than your family?

It sounds like a great opportunity in a lot of ways, but as you say, there are a lot of things to consider.

thursdaynext.21 said...

Ok, I'm not equating my experience to this possibility AT ALL, but I do want to share: I spent 5 months on a boat, away from my family, on an adventure-- email only every 2 weeks, and only 3 phone calls over the entire journey. I had ALOT of alone time, so that sucked. I would do it all over again. Yes, it was very painful to pass holidays, and loneliness (but you have your nuclear family with you) but sadly, so much of what makes people unhappy these days is finances. If you can approach it as an adventure (which you may consider as fodder for a journal/eventually publication of your experience teaching there) I agree with you. In fact, I've mentioned it to J for myself. Personally for us, we decided that if I try for this in a few years, we should take a baby with us, so that J (who wouldn't be able to work there) could benefit from being Mr. Mom for a year.

H is at the right age to learn from this experience, and still be able to get over the separation from friends.

Bottom line-- if you guys clear out debt, think of what you'll be able to do for your kids in the future, let alone the learning experiences they will have!

And in terms of research-- it would be fascinating to find out what IS available there for your field, and how that locale affects your teaching-- perhaps there's value for some cool 'transnational' thingy that all the kids use these days!

Last thing-- While I know plane tickets are prob 2 grand, you could just time research trips with H's visits to her dad, so that she travels with you back to the states, and you can still fulfill visit obligations?

so exciting!

kenandbelly said...

My spouse, child and I are currently living and studying abroad. I'm dissertating and he's earning an MBA. This is has been a fantastic adventure and it has been really great for our little family. I am all kinds of glad we did this. And I'm saying this knowing that we're living on loans and savings in a scary economy. It doesn't sound like that would be the case for you, so woot woot!

This sounds like an amazing opportunity.