I occasionally bring up the idea of working abroad, whether it be some place in Europe or in China, with my wife. The reasons for wanting to leave *here* in order to go *there* vary:
* *Here* in the current moment is sometimes our current employment, at a regional public university which is increasingly run “by the numbers” by increasingly cynical administrators: that is, they are happy to check off mandates given to them by the state, or sometimes even by themselves, in order to claim success, without really engaging the matter at hand. Classic example: State – “Our students need exposure to international culture because business is increasingly global.” University – “Um, if we require students in freshman English to read something written by a foreigner … that counts! (And we’ll ignore the fact that freshman English is already responsible for retention efforts, despite the fact we cram two dozen or more kids into each and every class.)”
* *Here* is also the South, and sometimes that just feels limiting. There are ways in which girls are socialized that we simply find unappealing if not downright appalling.
* *Here* is also a small city in the South, which loves all its big fish in its small pond: we don’t want to live in such a constrained world, and we certainly don’t want our daughter to grow up under such constraints.
*There* of course is always subject to being the other side of the hill. I am sure that *there* has its share of problems, but those problems will not be ours, unless of course we plan on staying there. For now, our conversation is usually about a semester or year abroad. Enough to scratch the itch, as they say, and then to return to *here*, perhaps with a renewed appreciation for *here* or perhaps with a kind of worldly detachment.
All of this was prompted by a terrific article in the _Chronicle of Higher Education_ on [“Faculty Life Abroad in Unusual Places”][che] which is accompanied by some really thought-provoking comments.