25 October 2010

Some sort of future

You’ll remember a post that I made in September, breathlessly announcing that I had decided to apply for an ESRC post-doc at King’s College. I was focused, excited. I e-mailed everyone. Yes, this is what I wanted.

Well, I soon found out that the acceptance rates of these things were next to nothing. Mathematically zero. And although I have a lot of confidence in myself, when you have to round up to get to .3%, I start to get worried. No matter, I thought, I would still apply and plan on working some year or two year contract teaching, with the expectation that eventually, something would come together, if I worked hard enough.

This last week, the government announced that it was cutting the budget pretty seriously, leaving some 500,000 public sector workers unemployed. The universities are now going to be allowed to charge higher tuition and in exchange, the government is essentially defunding higher education. Who knows what is going to happen for real, but I can say this: without a miracle, the 2012-2013 grant funding is going to be non-existent and every department, terrified that they will be deemed not profitable and axed, is unlikely to hire anyone new. Hopefully in three to five years, the bad blood will be out, but that’s unlikely with such a huge overhaul to the system.

Add to this the immigration fears that have the government capping non-EU immigrants. I thought this only applied to people coming into the country and not people renewing, but I met an American yesterday who was looking like he wasn’t going to get renewed based on the new rules. Doesn’t matter that his company wants him to stay: they can only employ so many foreigners. So he has to move on. Thank you, (don’t) come again.

So I have a couple of choices. Basically I can say, well, there will have to be people hired and I might get lucky and they’ll choose a foreigner (me) over a qualified English person. The problem with this is even if they want to hire me, whether or not I’ll be able to get a visa will be a different story. And the chance of there being a job is quite unlikely. Option two is start looking elsewhere in Europe, which will be my second choice, but I am wary to make a short-term commitment if learning another language is involved, as Yoko and the kids will require more adaptation than me. Certainly a possibility, but, again, I haven’t been seeing a lot of opportunities, owing to the fact, I suppose, that I don’t speak another European language and can’t search universities that way.

That leaves the US and Japan. Yesterday, I came downstairs and Yoko was watching a Japanese TV show on YouTube and laughing. It was one of the Japanese variety shows--distinctly Japanese and hard to explain. As I watched her watch it, I had a sense of... peace. Peace is the best way to describe it. Security and peace, but also a sense that I did not have to do anything. I feel like I am always doing something in the UK, always trying to get something done that must be done in English or plan to take the family somewhere that they can't go themselves because the streets are confusing or it requires too much English. Japan would be different. I could leave the house on a Saturday: go ride my bike and come back and Yoko and the could be somewhere else by themselves. No help with maps, no need to look it up on the Internet for them. That would bring me a great deal of satisfaction: I could go to the coffee shop and read without any guilt hanging over me.

I’m not sure what the answer is. Well, that’s not right: the answer is to not worry about it and focus on my work and loving my wife and family. But I’m always looking for the exits.