Currently I’m in a graduate program in Europe. I just finished my first semester and I’m a little bit miffed, and I’m not really interested in it. I have lived in Europe for about a two years before this doing study abroad type stuff in undergrad. The program is European Studies and it is basically focused on political science and cultural theory.
I am really depressed though because I have no chance of getting a decent job with this degree. This is compounded by the fact that I really love living in Europe and I want to stay. I spent the summer working in New York, and I realized that I really can’t stand the thought of working my ass off for the rest of my life and being poor. There are a lot of countries in Europe where the standard of living is much higher for everyone. The economic reasons are right for me in a lot of ways. I probably won’t be an entrepreneur and if I ever feel the need well then I could always go back to the US. I just want a stable life where I could have an interesting and fulfilling job in Europe where I don’t have to work 50+ hours a week. Obviously I’d prefer to use my language abilities and follow my other interests, but we aren’t all that lucky.
I’ve given some though about studying architecture. That would be something I think I’m well suited to. I have a very concise mind, and I am probably not the best suited to this academic world. I CAN make myself interested in these subjects with a little mental voodoo, but its not something that I’m automatically interested in. I was considering an architecture school in Europe somewhere. The reason why I say this is that I’ve always loved building things, as a kid. I recently downloaded this game “Bridge Construction Set” where you basically construct bridges across chasms, and I was addicted to it for days. I was also very good (best in my class) in Physics and Economics in early undergrad and high-school, but I’ve always been scared away because teachers warn that the math is very complex. I don’t enjoy math for math’s sake, but I seem to do very well when it is applied with concepts that I understand. All of this leads to some dream of myself being involved in some level of design and construction of things. But I wonder, when I find myself designing a wall on the newest McDonald’s will I really feel like I’m accomplishing much? Will it really feel better than doing anything else? I am wondering if anything will still be as interesting for me once I get into the minutiae. Is everything this hard? I really have a hard time being interested in my studies at the moment, but maybe this is the way things are.
So that sums up my concerns about my career. I feel like my MA will probably not get me a good job, and if I go the academic career, it will be more studying things I am only nominally interested in. I feel like something more in tune with my rational side is in order, but I’m afraid my math skills aren’t up to par and that maybe that once I get there, I’ll be just as bored.
Secondly I want to stay outside of the US. This has nothing to do with political reasons, but just own tastes. I lived in Europe for two years before, and I simply prefer the lifestyle here, which I feel is relaxed, yet modern. I would like some way to make sure that I can actually stay here. As I have no claims to European citizenship, this isn’t easy. I don’t want to get married either.
First thought. Get a TEFL certificate. This is a good idea because it basically means I could get some kind of employment after I graduate. It would allow me to set up shop somewhere and really get a chance to get my foot in the door. I think I could maybe teach in Spain. Of all the cultures I’ve experienced, I believe that the Spanish one is the one that I’ve been most attuned to. I don’t like all aspects, but I feel that I know it really well.
Secondly I could get a student permit and live in Germany. I believe there are ways to work in Germany like that.
Thirdly I could get a job here in Denmark. I don’t know how possible this is either.
Basically, to all you Americans who live in Europe. How did you get your foot in the door? Is it something that I could replicate? This is probably a lifelong ambition for me, and once I do accomplish this I will be very proud. I have no problem with America or Americans, but its just not for me anymore. I’ve known this for a while, its just recently that I’ve become paranoid about what will happen if I don’t start working now to be able to stay. Staying means being able to work here legally.
I realize this post is very disjointed, but I’m hoping I can rely on the feedback to give me some good suggestions to plan a course of action. Maybe some resources I could look at? I don’t know.
Basically I’m saying I’d like to start working on a life plan that allows me the option to live here and have a somewhat satisfying life. That basically means living somewhere I want to and having a job that gives me some pleasure. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but its not something that everyone can say that they have. That’s why I’m concerned about my education, because if I don’t like the end result, I won’t be happy, and if it doesn’t end up being something that could be useful in helping me stay, then it would be bad too. Its a very complex matter, but if you are an American living abroad, I’d love to hear your stories about how you managed to do it.
Finally, I’m not totally convinced that Europe is THE place to be. I do have my preferences though. I’d rather not live in England. I don’t particularly like it there. Germany is okay. I lived there for a while, but only in small towns. Berlin could be ideal though because it is big, yet cheap. I already speak German, so that would be an advantage. Denmark, Norway and Sweden. These are expensive places, but if you work here that’s no problem (outside of Norway) but at a certain point the weather becomes a problem. I like the culture here a lot though and I really enjoy staying here. France seems okay, I don’t speak French, but I suppose I could learn.
Sometimes I wonder about the Czech Republic. I know nothing about it really. I also wonder about South American countries. The problem with Spain that I’ve had is that not that I don’t appreciate the culture, but that sometimes it is too difficult to adapt to the differences. I generally think this about most South American countries, but I wonder about Brazil and Argentina. I am very interested in what it would be like to live there. It would probably be possible to be relatively rich in these places it seems.
Well, I suppose I’ll end this now, but I’d appreciate any kind of input. Sometimes people say that if you don’t try to control things so much that you’ll end up doing something that you like anyway, but I need to have some kind of direction, I think. By making no effort I’m sure I’ll get nowhere. I think you have to work to get new possibilities, and I would always be open to new unthought of possibilities.