There are posters aplenty at BU which preach the possibilities inherent in a Bachelor of Arts. Professors urge you on to a Master’s Degree and your parents wonder what you can do with Philosophy. Journalism is frequently mentioned, or perhaps you can be an Art Advisor (whatever that is). The first job that comes to mind for me, though, when thinking about a B.A. is that of an artist. That, or getting your doctorate and becoming a postsecondary professor. Teachers teaching students how to be teachers (disclaimer: many of these teachers are awesome!): the Möbius strip of careers.
However, a B.A. in English, even a three-year, has an often-overlooked job tree to be found abroad. Many developing countries, especially in Asia, South America and Africa, are always looking for English teachers. Many of these companies and schools are willing to pay airfare, room, and board to any potential teaching candidate. To say nothing of the salary, which can compete with wages in our own country.
Perhaps you do not know what to do with yourself after graduation. Maybe the plan all along was to wax poetic and snap your fingers at a local jazz band playing at The Lady of the Lake. If you are looking down the barrel of that particular gun next year, then maybe teaching abroad is the choice for you (even if only temporarily).
Opportunities abound in these positions: you have the respectability of a teaching position, plus the chance to explore a new culture. Contracts are usually for a year, which is more than enough time to learn a second (or third) language, participate in a new local society, and make friends from across the world. Your time off can be spent working on that webcomic you have been envisioning or even sleeping as much as you want for the first time since you began university.
There is something to be said for leaving your comfort zone and putting yourself in new, sometimes dangerously interesting, situations. Consider the lifestyle you can lead as a teacher in a different place: the dust of somewhere else on your shoes… Thailand’s hiring right now: you could go on elephant rides and go SCUBA diving. Bonus: you will also be supporting yourself while not working a retail job or selling kidneys online to Middle-Eastern crime lords.
Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 104, Issue 2, September 10, 2013.