12 January 2009

Trip around the world or a prestigious job?

This question is more for my partner than for me, and I know they are not at all mutually exclusive.

So, back to Mexico. My partner's mother has no fear. Kind of like the scene in "Finding Nemo" where the kids taunt each other for touching the boat, she kept inching closer to these pelicans when we were swimming in the ocean one afternoon. Now, these were no ordinary pelicans, which are already large birds. No, these were modern-day pteradactyls with approximately six-foot wing spans, and they were divebombing out of the sky into the water for fish. She grinned as she swam between them and said, "Look, they're not afraid of us at all!" I thought to myself that they were not afraid for good reason, and that maybe she should not be treading water between three very large ones. But, she was fine (and I kept my distance). Here is a photo of a pelican in Mexico (and a man named Ernesto) I found online, to give you an idea.

My partner's papi had been pushing us for babies (even before we were properly married- gasp), but all of a sudden (I think it may have been the near-death experience of swimming with pteradactyls), he and my partner's mother had switched gears and were telling us to travel, to have fun, to enjoy life. Scratching my head but excited by their new advice, I turned to my partner to see what he thought about this. I'd always thought it would be neat to backpack around the world for a year. Why? I have no idea. It sounded cool. You'd have time to explore the faraway places you flew to rather than having to turn around and head home after a week. But, I also wondered how much of it was not curiosity to see the world but childish bragging rights and that nagging type-A desire of wanting to check a box off the list. And I had already been fortunate in how much I'd been able to travel. So, I never gave it serious consideration.

My partner, who now has an offer for a tenure-track professor position (go, honey!), shrugged and said he'd be game. Of course, that was before he received the letter that said he should be on campus by August. Now, with a little more than a week to choose, which is the better life decision? I love the idea of wandering around the globe, but in a way, I've done that. There are certainly more places to visit, and I do want to go there, but I don't have to take a full year to do it. In this economy, when half of the universities had canceled their job searches, my partner is really very fortunate to be offered such a job (and straight out of his Ph.D., too).

On the other hand, once we start popping out babies, backpacking for a year will be near-impossible. Doable but much more complicated. In a way, this year would be our last chance to really rough it and go exploring freely. It was easy to say 'sure, let's do it' when nothing but time was at stake, but I understand those concerns of will I be able to get a job after traipsing around the globe for a year, how do I explain the empty year on my cv, etc. (And incidentally, it isn't just the prestige of the job that attracts him but the work itself that he would do, the people with whom he'd work, etc.)

I have told my partner that I'd be 100% cool with his accepting said prestigious job and traveling for seven weeks this summer. That's still a pretty awesome chunk of time, and as my partner says, he doesn't feel he's earned the right to go dillydallying (not his words) for a year yet. I would definitely see it as win-win if we backpacked this summer, and then, he started his fancy-pants job in the fall-- but then, I think, wow, a year. What's your take?


  1. This is a tough choice, but if we were in your shoes, we'd probably pick the 7 week backpacking + job.

    I miss you papeete! Where would this job be? On the west coast, I hope!

  2. Wowww, what an awesome position to be in! If it were me and my partner and we had the $$, I would push for a year of travel. If you can do it now, do it. It sounds like your hubby has the skillz and qualifications to pick up work when/if you guys return.

    This is very easy advice to give b/c I am not in the situation. But my vote is for life experiences globe trotting!

  3. Such an exciting time for you and A! 7 weeks + job would be a sweet deal for me, especially if I had an opportunity to work with some pretty amazing people.

    My dad also went through this (tenure in Taiwan vs. staying in the States) before receiving his PhD. Years later, the tenure was offered to him again. I believe that as long as you do what feels right in your heart, the opportunities will follow. =D Oh... and an awesome perk of a tenure are sabbaticals!