Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Doha Diaries, no. 10: Decisions Made, Planning Begins

We have decided to stay here in Doha for one more year. I declined the post-doc position at the main campus, and I will do the same for the other offer once the official contract arrives. Now, I am in the running for a different position in Qatar. A local university has an open position--in my field!--at the assistant professor rank. Am I the front-runner? Who knows. Would I be an attractive candidate? I definitely believe so, if only because of the money the school could save buy hiring someone whose already in Qatar. No relocation expense, no business-class airfare, etc. For me, I would at least get a better title and the opportunity to teach courses in my field. It's a late deadline for application review, so it will be a while before I hear anything (if I hear anything).

We've made plans for the summer, which excites me to no end! They include:
  • booked our international flights to/from the US
  • booked our domestic flights to/from Home State
  • secured a beach house rental in Ocean City, NJ near Hubby's family for our first week of summer break
  • secured a short-term lease on a corporate house in Home State near my family, where we'll stay for the remainder of summer break

Because things can never be easy and without sacrifice, we've already hit a couple of problems. The biggest one is that I'm supposed to graduate on main campus Fri, August 13th. Well, Hannah's first day of middle school is Sunday, August 15th. A 24+ hour plane ride, plus an 8-hour time difference, plus jet lag = Hannah will not be there on the first day of school. She is sad about this, and we've considered every possible option. However, the fact remains that getting my PhD and being hooded by my advisor will only happen one time in life. My family only gets one chance to see this event. Hannah will have many more first days of school. I still feel like I'm being a little selfish, but I think this is the right decision. I hope very much that the day will be one that she will remember...seeing her mother, the first person in the family, graduate with a doctorate. Please Lord, let her find joy in that.

I had to go through several flight changes on our international leg, and all of them were completed at NO CHARGE!! So, I have to thank Qatar Airways, just in the spirit of gratitude and good karma!

We still have to make a few small arrangements, but the big things are taken care of. In addition, today was the last day of teaching for the Spring term, so a big WOOOHOO for that :) Despite a major bad day yesterday, which brought news that both Amelia and Eliza will need to go to a different nursery/school, we have since found them spots at places we love that are also right next to our compound and workplace! To top it off, since Eliza is starting a "real" school (not daycare), her tuition will be covered by our employer, which will save us over $600/month!

Though it will be hard to get on that plane and come back to Doha in August, we will do so knowing that the last year will be much easier and will, hopefully, fly by. I can't believe we're already halfway through our contracts. For now, I look forward to my research trip to London and my travel partners, Hannah and her best friend! We leave in less than two weeks, and the itinerary is all set: Westminster, Tower of London, tickets to see Wicked, Victoria and Albert Museum, Mad. Tussaud's, British Museum, the London Eye, and the girls get a couple "free picks" when we have extra time. I have so much that I'm looking forward to and so much to be thankful for right now. Let's see how long it lasts!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Doha Diaries: No. 9, Tough Decisions

We have to make some tough decisions soon, and I feel like I have very little advice on what to do. Currently, I have two job opportunities back in the States. The first as a postdoctoral lecturer at main campus (my home department), and the second is a lecturer position at a regional branch of a non-traditional school in the deep South. The latter actually holds more job security than one might imagine, as it operates on the philosophy of do a good job, and you get to keep your job. The school caters to non-traditional students (average age mid-30s), so they offer 5 9-week terms, and most of the classes are offered in the evening. Teaching load is 2 classes per term. Don't know the salary yet, as the formal contract is still in the mail.

We can only make the main campus gig work if Hubby gets a job in the area, and that doesn't look like it's going to happen. He has an interview at a school 3 hours away from main campus, which would work if I could get online courses. Teaching online might be good experience if I wanted to pursue primarily comp jobs, but it won't do anything for me in terms of experience teaching British literature (or even general literature).

There's an opening at the non-traditional school in Hubby's department, and the school is in a town that would probably be quite nice to live in. However, we would be jumping into something really unfamiliar in terms of teaching. In addition, we'd likely be going back on the market next year to get more "traditional" (hopefully t-t) academic positions, and I don't know how that type of school would look on our CVs.

At this point, we're leaning toward staying here for one more year, accomplishing our financial goals, and hoping for better job luck next year. We'll both have PhD in hand, second projects in the works, and articles under review. It doesn't guarantee anything, but it's the best we can do right now.

The problem is that there are days and moments when I still get overwhelmed with sadness about being here, and I long for life back home. This morning, Eliza was looking at a photo album, and it almost brought me to tears just seeing pictures of our old life. I remembered every moment, trip, or event that was captured, and I ached to be back home. It pains me to see the familiar, everyday things about life back in the U.S. Spring flowers blooming, friends gathered for drinks at the local hangout, family reunions, trips to fun places that just do not exist here. It makes me sad for myself and also for my kids, because I feel like I'm depriving them of some of those things as well as time with their grandparents. These are the moments when I feel like I just can't be here another minute, much less another year.

Rock. Hard place.

Friday, April 09, 2010

I'd like to announce

...Dr. AcadeMama.

The defense was neither easy nor was it a lovely conversation. It's only just now sinking in that I've done this thing, and I haven't yet felt any sense of pride or relief. I am hoping those things come at some point though.