Alright, I realize that I tend to be a little dry with these entries and lacking in personality, but I have decided to throw caution to the wind and provide some blasphemous jabber. As many of you may know, I officially return to the U.S. of A. in 14 days! Therefore I have had a few thoughts on my mind. The main one, though a bit pre-mature, has been to figure out what I will do with myself [in the long term].
In reflection of the past year (I cannot believe it has been almost a year!), this trip has been the best thing for me. I was a bit burned out after university and needed some reflection and “me” time. I have been claiming for some time now that I will travel the whole world over, but such an idea could easily have been naive ambitions of a Kansas country girl, dissipating once actually experienced or constantly set aside as an unfulfilled dream. It could be let unfulfilled yet, by unforeseen circumstances, but I have come to the conclusion that I am at my best when experiencing new things, meeting new people, exploring different parts of the world, and obtaining new knowledge about whatever I happen to stumble upon. Which sort of seems like I am at my best while traveling and learning. On one hand I want to jump right back into schooling to continue letting knowledgeable professors enlighten my ignorance, but I also want the freedom to travel at will and [the real issue being] be able to afford whatever activity my every whim produces. The problem is that I do not actually foresee such an arrangement as feasible without some type of financial stability.
Where will that money come from? For the immediate future, I am considering a year of work in Colorado for a mining company while applying to graduate schools. The work year will not only provide valuable experience on my resume but also flush out my depleted bank account. The problem is that this is all too fantastic a scenario.
Now that I am so set on accomplishing my global tour, I have to consider the future, long term. I am currently trending toward a career in academia, teaching at the university level. Ambitious definitely, but so is everything I set my mind to (hence wanting to travel to all the 200-some countries). Such a long time and a PhD away, why dwell on it now? Well, I have a friend in graduate school, also pursuing a career in academia, who is tending a position on a faculty selection committee. She has expressed the reality that it is a competitive career and that once your PhD has been completed, there should be no unaccounted time lapses from post-docs or work. Thus no breaks for travel rendezvous outside the measly vacation time allowances. Do I think I will be using my vacation for these excursions? No, I suspect I would be saving up vacation for research sabbaticals and actual vacation. I will not deny the evident possibilities for travel with my chosen profession of geology, but I have not encountered any career paths that include extended travel opportunities nor travel encompassing the entire globe. Therefore, my only solution is to get in as much travel, at my preferred pace of travel, before I am in a solid career and settled down.
This long, tiresome speech all comes down to the conclusion of what my plans for the next few years will incorporate. My inference is that I must come up with more [extensive] travel time before completion of my doctorate (a goal of which I am stubbornly set on regardless if I actually enter a career in academia). To me, the sensible scenarios avoid a major break between Masters´ and Doctoral degrees (of which I would like to complete separately for the benefit of having a break in between and creating experience and connections across several departments at different universities). Thus, straying from the perfect, previously mentioned scenario, I could work two years, saving money back the whole time, and decide during the second year if I should apply to schools or take another year for travel. Now I realize that this plan removes me from the academic mind set for four whole years, but two of those years would be gaining work experience and the other two would be giving me peace of mind and promoting my love of geology by allowing my interaction with landscapes from around the world. Would not two years of work benefit my resume, keep my brain engaged, and provide the means for these travel fantasies? Likewise, I would get to have a significant time allotment to knock of some more of the world before finishing my education. Win-win situation all around?
The hangers of course are what provide the big IF´s. Will I even get the Colorado position, because the immediate financial stability that could provide affects the whole equation. Second I could decide that mining or my immediate immersion into a working environment are not my cup of tea. Or the opposite, my pursuit of higher education degrees may change if I prefer working. I might actually preferring the schooling environment over securing travel time, but this past year has tainted my ability to judge objectively. I am unsure if I could handle another year of intellectual idleness. I may meet someone and want to marry [ha]. There are too many variables independently fluctuating.
This is the end of my rant. I am unsure how to go about this business and feel the need to appeal to an unbiased audience for insight and guidance. I do not want to avoid returning to school, but I genuinely want to take advantage of my youth and the availability of such opportunities. I am nervous about going back to school and not being able to handle everything. Prolonging my absence from academics would do nothing but further that ineptitude and inability. However, my desire to travel is constantly on mind and will not be suppressed. I truly begin planning future travels before I have even begun already planned ones.
There you have it. A current, streaming dialogue that runs through my mind a few times a day.