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authorSean Whitton <>2015-11-18 10:09:12 -0700
committerSean Whitton <>2015-11-18 10:09:12 -0700
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+[[!meta date="2015-04-20 09:24:00"]]
+[[!meta title="An offer from Arizona"]]
+[[!tag imported_PyBlosxom writing diary]]
+I spent the first two weeks of this month trying to decide between
+offers to study a one-year master's at the University of St. Andrew's in
+Scotland, and to study a two-year master's at University College London.
+Both are research-oriented, both would cost a big chunk of my savings. I
+managed to factor out almost everything that differs about the two
+prospects, and I decided in the end to choose to go to London. This came
+down to my emotional reaction to spending a year in a small Scottish
+village versus spending two years in vibrant London, despite not having
+any money while there. And then the University of Arizona, a
+significantly higher ranked philosophy department than either UCL or St.
+Andrew's, made me a last-minute offer to go study there, fully funded
+with a salary on a teaching fellowship, giving me just 48 hours to
+[[!more linktext="continue reading this entry" pages="!blog/entry/*" text="""
+I accepted the offer from Arizona and spent a week or so with my heart
+still in London. However, my desire to go there has now faded away, and
+I'm looking forward, admittedly with great apprehension, to moving to
+the U.S.A. Here's my view of what I'm about to embark upon.
+Having lived in Korea, doing the job that I do and meeting the people
+that I meet, I now know more clearly what my priorities are when it
+comes to the career I'll pursue in the longterm. Dignity in the way I am
+treated by my employer, the freedom to work in the part of the
+world/country where I want to, and stability of the employment period
+and day-to-day schedules have become important to me: more important, I
+think, than the sense that the work I'm doing is cutting-edge academic
+research. So I don't want to be a professional philosopher anymore. Not
+very many people who embark upon careers as academics get stability and
+dignity, and even those who do don't get it until after many of the best
+years of their lives have already passed them by. I care more about
+myself than I used to, and I'm just not sufficiently interested in most
+of philosophy---that is, I'm not fanatically obsessed---to give up my
+desire for all these good things that come much sooner/at all on other
+career paths.
+I owe it to myself, though, to give graduate-level philosophy a try. I
+want to know what it is like to do it and be around other people doing
+it. I want to develop skills to allow me to read and write philosophy
+from time-to-time in the future, and I really need to go to a university
+and get those skills now rather than later, when I've embarked on some
+other career. Another reason why now is a good time is that I've got to
+leave Korea because I'm so bored with my job. I'm not putting my heart
+into it anymore, and I dread going into work on a Monday; this wasn't
+true at all a year ago.
+Arizona is offering me a chance to do philosophy, talk philosophy and
+teach philosophy, and also a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go and live in
+the United States. I could get a degree (an MA or a PhD depending on how
+long I stay) out of it. But since I don't think I want an academic
+career, this really is just a piece of paper that might hold personal
+significance while not being relevant for getting other jobs. It's also
+true that less than half of American Philosophy PhD students complete
+the PhD and graduate with a PhD degree. So I can leave when I feel I've
+learnt most of what Arizona is going to teach me. The department has a
+reputation for being friendly and inclusive: I know this from my old
+American philosophy tutor from Oxford, and from talking to current
+Arizona students, not from their website.
+I'll also be keeping my options open if I change my mind about wanting
+to be a professional philosopher. The ranking of the institution you got
+your PhD from matters a lot in getting philosophy jobs, and as I said,
+Arizona is significantly higher in the rankings than UCL or St.
+After accepting the offer from Arizona I spent a while unconvincing
+myself of my choice to go to UCL in London. I realised that my ongoing
+fantasy about living some cosmopolitan intellectual life in London is at
+this point a fantasy about giving up on academic study and getting a job
+in London, probably doing some kind of computer programming. It's not a
+fantasy about actually studying philosophy. So I'm not really giving up
+on being able to go to London and try to live that fantasy life if I
+decide that academic study isn't for me anymore. London isn't going
+When I got the offer in the morning last week, and realised that I was
+definitely leaving Korea within the next few months, I almost cried
+while riding my bike to school and was holding back my tears for the
+first ten minutes of my first lesson. This was because I was sad that my
+time in Korea with my girlfriend is coming to an end. We're going to try
+it long-distance, since our futures are very much open: she is tied to
+practising engineering in Korea for between two and four years, and I'm
+going to Arizona for a similar length of time. Receiving the offer
+clarified my feelings about her as I wasn't sure whether I wanted to go
+ahead with a long-distance relationship or not until that morning when I
+rode my bike to school that way.
+One very visible difference between U.K. and U.S. philosophy graduate
+students is that almost all U.S. graduate students have to do some
+teaching in exchange for a stipend and no tuition fees. I think this
+suits me because there is some more concrete work to be done in addition
+to the open-ended "get on with your research." Initially I suspect
+they'll just have me marking papers, but anyway, [this is how I imagine
+my classes](
+A few months ago I started having swimming lessons and had a bad first
+few weeks. I wanted to conclude on the topic of whether swimming was
+right for me and make a judgement. However, unexpectedly I found that I
+loved it and now expect to continue for a fair while. I should accept
+the uncertainty of whether Arizona will be good or bad, and resist my
+desire to make a story as to whether or not I like it before I've been.
+To help me do this, I will remind myself of my recent experiences with