Tuesday, July 19, 2005

And the winner is: Lithuania Christian College. It's been an exciting month. At least, it's exciting now that my brain has been able to catch up.

First, graduating with a Masters in English. May and June were busier than they could have been as I had a language requirement to catch up on, but first year French courses aren't too bad, especially considering this is approximately the third time I've learned how to conjugate avoir and etre. Yup, it gets easier. But the class was a lot of fun and we did a lot of kibbitzing and improv, so the potentially frustrating forced time went by quickly. My final grad class also ran May to June, but again, everything kind of built on itself so the workload wasn't too heavy. Things keep seeming to work out for me, and on the whole, I spent more time easing other people's stress than finding my own. I also feel like I had a lot of time to do what I wanted: potlucks, movies, walks, quality conversations with quality people... I guess that rosy nostalgic glow of the academic life hasn't been shattered yet.

Chatting with people, I've been asked several times to summarize how I feel about the whole Masters thing. Umm... it was fun. Really. There was a bit more reading, a bit more talking, and a bit more pressure on my papers, but these are all things that I'm comfortable with (and two of the three I regularly spend too much time on anyway). The people were great, and I only had a few stinker profs, so on the whole the environment made things easy. To be honest, looking back on it (I'm being frank here), it was kind of boring... not that I wasn't crazy stressed at times or often busy, but it didn't have as many moments of mind-blowing revelation as I had hoped. It's definitely a halfway step between undergrad and doctorate. My opinion? Skip straight to PhD if at all possible... unless you're like me and just kind of throw school years in because you can't help it. If you don't enjoy the process or have distinct reasons for doing it, it's probably not for you.

Second, moving home. In the six or seven or whatever years I've been gone, this was the first time I've done the 27-odd hour trip home on my own. Mostly because my Manitoban friends all finished in April and were already there (*cough* Vaughn). Fortunately, the solo trip turned out to be some much-needed time to decompress. I listened to a few audio books to take the edge off the occasional bored spell, rocked out to the rhythm of the scenery, and generally enjoyed not having to give up the wheel :) I temporarily owned a queen-size bed in Kingston, but now I'm back to bragging about how the entirety of my possessions fits in my car and how my domestic accoutrements consist of a thermos. One. An unbroken string of quality roommates who also happen to have hit the kitchen-dishes motherload helps. Jon, I still have your phone.

Now though, it's time to downsize and upgrade my possessions-container to backpack levels. Because I signed a contract last week for my new job. Teaching. In Lithuania. In classic Jared style, I used the word "cahoots" in my phone interview and somehow ended up agreeing to teach "Business Math," which I'm told means word problems and graphs, but it's all good. I heard the infamous phrase, "so I'm looking at your resume..." and an irrational fear of IT help desks gripped my heart, but it was only a reminder that stats will haunt me until the day I die. And so it goes. I'm sure it'll be good for me. I'm starting from scratch, as in "let us know when you've picked the textbook," but again, that which doesn't kill you... I'm in over my head, which is exactly what I was looking for. I'll also be teaching "Business Communication," which is slightly more English-related. If you're interested in the college it's over at www.lccbc.org--the basic rundown is: international liberal arts university, Klaipeda on the Baltic, language of instruction in English. I'll be teaching first-year undergrads. The school itself is mostly externally funded, so I don't get a salary, but they'll top up my fundraising and basically help make my volunteer service experience as pleasant as possible. I'm excited about it for its size, its goals, and the plentiful opportunity I'll have to get involved with student athletic and spiritual life in addition to the academic stuff. Of course, considering I'm mostly flying by the seat of my pants (an oddly mixed metaphor if I've ever seen one--like some sort of wierd magic carpet ride), I'll probably spend my evenings scrambling to cobble together some semblance of a lesson plan, but the option is there. Plus, a new culture, new friends, and new challenges should go a long way toward busting me out of this six-year school rut I've been enjoying recently. Though someone quipped not so long ago and not-so-wrongly that I'll still be in school. Hey man, pitching for the other team has got to count for something.

So it's well into July and I leave my humble abode here in Manitoba in a mere three weeks. And what am I doing now? Shingling. Why not? Yup, my brother and I are up on our parents' roof swinging hammers, my mother insists on being up there too, putting the two of us to shame with her mad shingling techniques, and the whole durn project is honest-to-goodness getting done, albeit rather slowly. We take a lot of breaks. Like camping for three days. And waiting for the rain to go away. Which is a long wait in Manitoba these days, if you hadn't heard.

Still, on August 7th (or thereabouts), I'm hopping in a car with the Vaughninator and heading back over to Waterloo. I'm hoping to catch up with a few peeps there, head over to Toronto and spend some time with Ali, and then, on August 15th, ride the gravy train down a magic rainbow to a land called Lithuania. [sidenote: six years and x thousand dollars where x is big, and that's all I got. More weird carpet trips. I'm looking forward to being normal again, and relishing hard-earned spelling and grammar mistakes with the satisfaction of the relapsed.]

In light of my away-ness, I'm considering adding one of those monthly spam-mails to this whole blog thing, but even if the thought of that kind of thing scares you, please, email me at "my full name with a period in between at gmail dot com." I'll need all the Canadian communication I can get in order to offset my broken Lithuanian grocery-buying skills. I'll respond too, even it takes me two weeks of all-night marking just to free up the time needed to send you oddly mixed metaphors. I look forward to it.

Anyways, a long post. I guess a lot of this stuff has been in the works for a while, but it's only now becoming concrete and post-able. Which is a great, if potentially terrifying, feeling.

Bottom line here is: if you're in Lithuania sometime in the next year, drop by. I'll be waiting with my magic carpet.