Category Archives: career

What to do from here?

I have a comfortable life here, but it feels unfulfilling in so many ways.

I like my job, but i wish i could be doing some real teaching, i.e. not EFL teaching (refer to this post for more on this).

I miss learning.  A lot.  Ever since coming here, i haven’t had any time to read intellectually stimulating material.  I used to consume so much information back in the States; i’d read regularly and catalogue images.  I miss that.  I miss that so much.  I miss having the time to look at interesting things online.  I’m getting stupid!  And i think it shows!

On the other hand, i’ve grown so attached to my apartment that i don’t think i could bear to leave it in August.  I don’t know why i’m thinking so far ahead.  I’m usually not like this; planning has never been a strong point or even an interest of mine.  I think i’m afraid of going back to the States, even though i miss it a lot, because it would mean finding a new job and being closer to my family (because if i were to go back, i’d probably go back to NYC).

I’m not even sure if i wanna go to grad school for Philosophy anymore.  I become more and more afraid everyday; i have so many doubts.  ‘I’m not smart enough, i’m not hardworking enough, i’m not passionate enough…’

Maybe my life here is holding me back from doing what i really wanna do.  I’m starting to think all of this was a bad idea.  I think everything will be better if i go back to school, and the most cost effective way to do that would be to enroll at Yonsei, i think, but their application period isn’t until October.  I don’t know how much longer i can do what i’m doing now without being disappointed with myself.

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“I want to be an unforgettable teacher.”

It’s official:  i’m going to be a Guest English Teacher at a public school in Seoul starting September.  All i can say is, i am beyond excited.  I even watched Master of Study to learn about public schools in Seoul and the Korean educational system and culture in general.  It moved my heart and inspired me to be the best teacher i can be—“an unforgettable teacher.”  At first, i thought that was a rather self-centered, ego-inflated way of looking at things.  But then i realized that teachers who really care can’t help but want their students to care in return.  Teachers are human, too.

My main reason for going is to take a year or two “off” from where i am right now and focus on myself.  I want to be free from all restrictions (or as much as i can manage abroad, away from home) and just do anything my heart desires.  I probably shouldn’t have picked Seoul because i know even more people there who will bother me and take away my time, but i wanted to go someplace familiar and where i spoke the language fluently.

By time “off,” i certainly don’t mean that i won’t be taking my time there seriously.  There are two projects that i will have to take very seriously, the first one being obvious:  my job.  It has always been my dream to teach, and though i don’t think of ESL education in particular as a long-term endeavor for me, i do enjoy parsing and teaching language and believe that knowing English is an important asset.  However, i am hoping that i’ll be able to teach my students more than just the English language.  I hope to allow them to discover a lifelong joy of learning–and in themselves, self-worth–and i’m sure i’ll have a lot to learn from them as well.

My second project will be to familiarize myself with as many of the great philosophers and their works as possible.  I plan on going to grad school for Philosophy in a few years, and i feel that i am not quite up to par as those with a B.A. in the subject.  And so, i’ve begun collecting books to bring with me to Seoul to study in my free time.  Please leave suggestions if you have any, especially for ancient philosophy.

I’ll be leaving August 9th.

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One big, unsolvable problem

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” –Kierkegaard

My second installment of Conversations with Yang has led me to another question:  Science and Philosophy may differ in their approach to problems, but what about the life of the scientist and the life of the philosopher?  How might the scientist and the philosopher differ in approaching life?

As evident from my last post, Yang would rather work on solvable problems for a living, whereas i would rather devote my time to unsolvable problems.  If each approach seems to offer its own set of advantages, and you desire both, then the logical course of action would be to work on both solvable and unsolvable problems.

So Yang would break down a big, unsolvable problem into smaller, solvable ones so she can have some kind of ROI, so to speak.  And we’ve already seen that that’s not possible in doing philosophy.

But what if “life” were modeled this way?  What if philosophy could be my unsolvable problem, and i had other, solvable problems to work through on the side?

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Mapping out your life is overrated

A wise friend of mine recently said to me, “Knowing what you want to do is not quite the same as knowing exactly where you can go.”  School and society put so much emphasis on the where that i lost sight of the what as i came closer to where i am now:  my last semester of college.

This academic year has changed me in strange ways.  I struggled a lot last semester with insecurities i never knew i had, most of which got in the way of my learning.  For the first time in my life, i found my classes to be an inconvenience and a drone (this partly had to do with the kinds of classes i was taking that semester, but it was also my attitude towards the learning that got in the way).  Needless to say, it was a highly disappointing semester, resulting not only in dropped grades but also a further drop in self-esteem.  (Just to be fair, one class and the professor that taught it encouraged me to express myself, which positively changed my approach to writing, but this didn’t change the fact that i felt oppressed by my other classes and professors.)

This semester has been interesting in that the four classes i’m taking are so different from each other and yet still overlap in various ways, in ways that motivate me to synthesize the thought products of each class with each other, which in turn makes me strive hard in all of them.  One class, Tactical Media, is a graduate course cross-listed as an offering to undergraduate upperclassmen, but the class is mostly graduate students.  I was intimidated at first by their professional accomplishments and general outspokenness, but i’m starting to find it easier to talk to these people than my fellow undergraduates.  There is a higher degree of respect for each other and not just a willingness but a desire to get to know one another.  I think it might have to do with the lack of competition.  They’ve already accomplished a great deal in their respective fields, and they’re all here for different reasons (the course belongs in the Arts and Public Policy department, but students come from all different departments, backgrounds, and careers).  They’re here to further their own individual projects, whether it be producing a social activist movement or sparking a debate about urban etiquette, but while doing so, they work together and share their individual interests and skills.  At the undergraduate level, most students are in the same boat of graduating and moving on to their respective fields.  Whether they admit it or not, undergrads are out to outdo one another in order to get a job or make it into grad school.  But going back to why i started talking about this class in the first place, it’s a key element in my learning this semester in that it is helping me become more outspoken in all of my classes; to put it simply, it’s encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone, but in a welcoming environment.  There is no competing—only sharing.  We don’t even compete for grades, because we grade ourselves at the end of the semester.  Discussion in this class is therefore as democratic and open as it can get; besides the individual projects (which are always collaborative), we are all in the unified project of progressing as a class.

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Philosophy or Communications?

[edited 11/01/08, scroll down for the edit]

I’m currently a junior in NYU Steinhardt’s Media, Culture, and Communication department.  I hate it.  I used to be in NYU GSP (General Studies Program, now called Liberal Studies), had thought about transferring to CAS for Cinema Studies (GSP used to be a two-year program that required an internal transfer to a school of your choice in NYU), but upon taking two core courses in Steinhardt’s MCC (Media, Culture, and Communication) department, i decided to do an off-track transfer (i was on-track to CAS) to the latter department instead.  And now that i am officially majoring in MCC, i’m beginning to realize that the academics aren’t as strong and inspiring as i initially thought they were.  Also, i’m paying a lot of money for this education, so i’d rather major in something that would really allow me to experience and ponder humanity at its fullest, and a good major for that kind of education would be Philosophy (which is in CAS).  I do have a bit of a background in Philosophy as i was required to take two core courses in it while in GSP, and most of my MCC courses included (and currently include) philosophical texts as well.  

The thing is, if i were to double-major in MCC and Philosophy, i might have to stay an extra semester or two, which costs even more money.  But if i major only in Philosophy, my degree may not be as marketable (as much as i don’t want to, i need to think about how i’m going to make a living).  So, my question to you all is, would a minor in Communications suffice to make up for the practical education part of my degree, or is it true that employers don’t even consider applicants’ minors?  Also, which U.S. universities are well-known for their Philosophy departments?  Because if i am to do this, i might as well do it right and consider transferring to other schools as well, especially if i’ll have to spend extra semesters either way.  As for my career aspirations?  Anything, really, as long as i can help people and be creative at the same time.  Anything in the arts would be especially appealing.  I’d also like to be able to afford a roof over my head, sufficient food to stay healthy, and clothes to keep me civilly dressed.  

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