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« This Week's Acquisitions | Main | Spoiled »

August 31, 2007



I am usually asked why I teach in China, and I answer that everyone in Upstate New York already speaks English.

Canis Trilinguis

Totally with you here. I've even had to switch countries several times. Don't get me wrong: I love the job, and I do agree that some time at a different university, in a different country is an important experience for an academic etc. etc., but try to explain to family why you move countries to go and work at the new place for less money, while they do not reimburse moving costs nor travel expenses, and without any certainty that this move might actually benefit your future career. They do assume that a person does a job in order to earn money (and not loose on it), and that special sacrifices in the line of duty (and moving, especially if it involves a new, less interesting country, is a big sacrifice I would say), and they are right.


While job mobility may be limited in some cases for academics, raising cost-of-living issues is a red herring. There will be hires at faculty position at liberal arts colleges in Southern California and New York City and Boston and San Francisco and other expensive cities; and their salaries, according to AAUP data, won't be that different from yours. They will simply end up making different spending choices than you do.

Similarly, the savings issues for the office worker who desires to move mid-career from Brockport to Santa Monica is not that different from the academic.

Moreover, perhaps you overstate the mobility of non-academics, much as someone contemplating the career of, say, Stanley Fish, may fail to understand that his career trajectory is not typical of academics.

There is so much that is alien to non-academics about what professors (despite our incessant need to bloviate about the minor details of our daily existence: thus the narcissistic genre of academic novels) that I find it odd to focus primarily on the issue of mobility.

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