Thoughts on Life’s Next Chapter

6 Apr
By February 19 (now over a month ago — wow!), we had heard from UT Austin regarding Phillip’s acceptance into their Applied Arabic Linguistics PhD Program.  (Go, Phillip!)  On that day, I wrote an email to our families and some close friends.  I’ve taken some excerpts from that message and posted them here.  I think they are important enough to save and store away for later.  If you care to read, these are some thoughts on life’s next chapter for “Stokes after Jordan.”
The  Main Gate of the University of Jordan, Amman.  This is where Phillip will be completing his M.A. in Teaching Arabic to Non-Native Speakers in just a couple of months.

The Main Gate of the University of Jordan, Amman. This is where Phillip will be completing his M.A. in Teaching Arabic to Non-Native Speakers in just a couple of months.

Thoughts Related to Logic & Critical Thinking :)
 
1. Our 2 year investment in Jordan has been & will have been worth it!  Phillip has the option of Arabic PhD as well as the qualifications to teach in a variety of schools, military language-training programs, and adjunct positions at the university level with just his M.A. in Arabic.
 
2. If he turns down UT Austin, it is very unlikely that he will ever be admitted to the PhD program again in the future.  (It’s kind of a “now or never” opportunity.)  So, unfortunately, there’s not the possibility of delaying his enrollment to this program — we had thought it would be nice to spend a year in Georgia after having been gone for 2 years before relocating again.
 
3. Obtaining a PhD (which will take 4-5 years) will only broaden his employability, stability at a job, and salary options.  His career is an important investment to both of us because I’d like to stop working for a while whenever we have children.
 
4. We are considering our current financial situation.  We have some student loans to pay off — and we’ll have to start making payments as soon as Phillip is no longer a student.  We also have a mortgage — which our renters have been helping us pay off.  If we turn down the PhD option, we’d probably (eventually) both be able to find jobs, but life would be a lot more expensive a lot sooner, not to mention our finances would be much tighter over the long haul than if he completes a PhD.  (And not to mention that our income for the past 19 months has been way under poverty line by U.S. standards; hey, that’s life in a 3rd world country!).
 
The University of Texas at Austin.  This is where we are headed next!  Phillip will start the PhD in Applied Arabic Linguistics this fall.

The University of Texas at Austin. This is where we are headed next! Phillip will start the PhD in Applied Arabic Linguistics this fall.

Thoughts Related to My (Rachel’s) Feelings :)
 
5.  Yes, I am sad at the thought of not coming back to Atlanta right away.  We both feel disappointment about that — mostly due to the fact that we have fantastic friendships existing there and that our home is located within an hour or two’s driving distance of family and friends outside the city.
 
6.  I am sad at the thought of not living in our house.  The thought of returning to our house in Atlanta (and being able to do some improvement projects on it — yes, I am my father’s daughter!) is what has gotten me through many of my difficult days here abroad.  While the thought of putting up wallpaper, installing antique light fixtures, and laying down hardwood floors may sound like a silly reason to be sad, there is real grief associated with both #5 and #6.
 
7. Before we ever decided to come to Jordan, we had talked about Atlanta/Georgia being the bull’s eye of our efforts and our “landing spot” where we’d like to be long term, raise a family, and be close to loved ones.  That is still our goal, and I feel hopeful that it will be a real possibility (with a much better financial situation) if Phillip does this degree.
 
8.  A 2.5 hour flight to visit family/friends is much, MUCH better than a flight where, as my Dad pointed out, you wake up 2 days after the initial take off!  haha!  And the cultural transition (while Austin is not a place I have ever been) will be far easier than the one we/I dealt with coming to Jordan.  Initially, I was pulling so hard for Atlanta because it is a place that is completely familiar and comfortable to me, but I hear that they speak English in Austin and that American culture is fairly prevalent there.  :)
 
9.  I feel excited about starting fresh in a new city like Austin — people say the music/art scene is great, restaurants & people are diverse, and the population/traffic are comparable to a city like Charlotte (just under 1 million people) where Phillip grew up.  I did a general scan of potential programs to which I could apply to work/teach a few weeks ago.  And it seems like a place full of opportunity.  While it will take energy to make new relationships, make 15 hour drive with all our stuff, and find a place to settle, we have friends of friends who have already offered to help/advise us should we relocate to Austin this summer.  In any case, I am happy about moving back to the U.S. soon!
  
Wow, maybe that wasn’t a summary after all!  (Phillip’s long-windedness must be rubbing off on me ;)
A few days after writing this message, we got word that Phillip will receive a full tuition-waiver along with a (paid) teaching assistantship that will begin right away this fall.  (Go, again, Phillip!)  I am thankful for our friends’ and families’ prayers and support of us during this whole Middle East stretch!  They are all so dear to us, and we look forward to being in-person with many of them in about 12 weeks.
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