Alrighty now. As I mentioned before, I’m planning on applying for a Fulbright English Teacher Assistantship which basically means that after I graduate next year (assuming I don’t flunk anything) I will go off for a school year to teach English (if they accept me). The thing is, the world is a pretty big place with a lot of peoples in a lot of places and the task of trying to choose one is very challenging. So what countries am I especially looking at and why? Well let me tell you.
Romania: Perhaps one of the most crucial elements in me applying for Romania would be the language factor. Romanian is a romance language (along with French, Spanish, Portuguese, et al) which means that learning Romanian would help me to learn those Latin-based languages a little bit easier. I really would like to learn Spanish (and spend time in Latin America) as well as French. I also would have a plan to investigate the Transylvania Saxons who once lived in Sibiu (the town pictured above) and my German/Lutheran background could possibly help with that. The possible downsides of Romania would be the winter as well as the possibility that I could be put in a city full of commieblocks which is less picturesque than Sibiu. Travel opportunities would be a bit more restricted but one upside is that the country does seem to have quite beautiful landscapes itself. Competitiveness seems to be fairly light so maybe I’d have a decent chance of being chosen.
Kyrgyzstan: this Russian-speaking nation in Central Asia would definitely be difficult to adjust to. It’s poor. There’s few English speakers. Russian (and its alphabet) would need to be learned and then there’s the winter in the mountains. Competition would be the easiest (2 of 2 applicants were accepted last year). There’s also that whole instability thing last year which means I could potentially be in danger but also have the opportunity to be an asset for the USA if needed. I sort of feel like if I don’t take a year to go to Central Asia now then I will never go and learn about this little-known region of the world and that’d be a bit of a tragedy. Travel and my lifestyle would be very limited but honestly it’s just one year right? Oh, one downer is that I always need to double check and see if I spelled it right or not. Tajikistan is a very similar option but it’s poorer and more competitive but both have some of the world’s giantest mountains.
Croatia: Mountains, plains, seascapes, red-roofed towns; what’s not to love? The beauty of this nation and its development and proximity to the more fashionable parts of Europe is definitely a big draw. But there’s also so much modern history that we really don’t hear about in America. I would love to be able to teach courses on the Balkans some day. I would need to learn Croatian which is a variant of Serbo-Croatian that uses the Latin rather than Cyrillic alphabet but I’d still be able to speak to folks in nearby nations. I’m thinking that competitiveness would be pretty high but honestly it would be absolutely amazing to live next to the sea in a Mediterranean climate and nearby to two thousand year old Roman remains. Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and even to a lesser extent Serbia and Kosovo are options that I’m considering for similar reasons but Croatia would be the plumpest cherry of them all.
Mongolia: back when I was a wee lad my uncle got my family a book by UNICEF about kids around the world. Erdene from Mongolia was always one of my favorite kids pages to look at. Why? In Mongolia apparently every kid has a horse. Yes I was jealous. So I’ve always thought that Mongolia would be an interesting place to go to and to have the opportunity to teach, learn, and live on the great steppes would be a dream come true. Living conditions might be a little bit tough but again, it’s not like I’ll probably get the chance to do this for most of the rest of my life. Language could also be a moderate bugger.
Malaysia: over spring break I stayed with a woman who had studied abroad a couple years in Malaysia. She described it as her second home and a wonderful place that really meant a lot. Rapidly developing, Malaysia is predominantly Muslim and it’d be very intriguing to study how the identity of Islam and other features is unique in a Southeast Asian country. I’m not sure what draws me to Malaysia but it just seems like it could be a wonderful place. Competition could be difficult for it though as there were quite a few people applying for somewhat few positions last year.
Turkey: I feel like this would be one of the easiest programs to get into (over half of applicants made it to the 58 positions last year). I’ve got a deep interest in the Middle East and it would be helpful to learn Turkish (which is not the same thing as Arabic) and I don’t think it’d be the most difficult of languages either. I get the sense from a few things I’ve read that the Education Department of Turkey isn’t the most organized of bureaucracies and sort of just sticks the Fulbrighters wherever they feel like it without really making adequate preparations. The travel opportunities would be awesome (especially if Hannah gets to go to nearby Armenia or Rachel to Georgia which is what I’ve heard they are planning on applying for) but I sort of feel like it could be a mistake to go there (one of those gut things I should probably listen to) because I might be thrown to the wolves somehow but it would be wonderful to live in this ancient world with so much modern relevance.
So what do you think then?