Location: London, UK
Miranda and I left our pretty girl on a safe mooring in Auckland and flew literally to the other side of the earth to the Search Associates job fair in London. No kidding, New Zealand and the UK are pretty much antipodes, diametrically opposed through the center of the globe. Two years of anticipation boiling down to one weekend of interview mayhem made it pretty much impossible to sleep on the airplane. Instead we watched a lot of junky movies in the thirty-six hours on the move through Melbourne and Dubai.
Had a couple pre-fair interviews with schools in Dubai, London, and Beijing. It was a good warm-up, getting our brains back on track after the decay and rot that comes with watching Mission Impossible III through VII back to back on the plane. Ugh… That evening we had dinner with my siblings along with friends Sinziana and Robert who live in London.
Got back to the hotel in time to get some sleep, but our fancy built-in body clocks hadn’t synced to other-side-of-the-world-time yet, and woke Miranda and I up promptly at 3am. We didn’t fight it, and jumped into planning our educational attack. After a great English breakfast (what’s up with the tomato and beans?!) alongside other jittery teachers, we marched onto the conference center battleground, armor-clad in suits and shining shoes. It was novel to be wearing a suit not made of neoprene and any shoes at all! The horde of a few hundred teachers besieged the school administrators hunkered behind conference hall tables like well-tailored barbarians. Miranda and I signed up to interview with several schools, being declined by only one, and ourselves declining several schools’ invitations, like from the Intertribal School of Mogadishu, and the Very Excellent Democratically Elected Peoples’ Republican Academy of Pyongyang. Pass!
We interviewed with schools in Germany, Mongolia, and Switzerland, along with second interviews from Dubai, London, and Beijing. At the end of the day we had job offers from many of them, but not our top pick! We still had a second interview with Switzerland that we were holding out for. Job offers stand for about twenty-four hours, so one can’t wait too long to accept, but it gives you a chance to juggle some of the options in your head. Actually, juggling helps with focus and eases stress. Plus it fills out your resume!
My body clock realized it blew the previous night’s wake-up call, helpfully tried a different hour, and woke me up at 1am. Fabulous. I read in bed for an hour, savoring the comfort of a real mattress, then eventually got restless and took to the darkened streets of London to walk off my jittery insomnia. In three hours of ambling, I found the river Thames and watched the current rip under the bridge, soaking up the calm before the storm. Water seems to have a certain magnetism for me. I always feel drawn to it. Not sure if I’d spearfish in the Thames though.
With a handful of good job offers already in our pockets we cleared our schedule for the following day to focus on the second interview with the International School of Zug and Luzern. We met with the administration team and spoke with them for over an hour about pedagogy, educational philosophy, and work history, before they offered us the two math positions we were coveting. It’s customary for schools to give you time to think over an offer, so we thanked them and walked cooly out, turned the corner, and did a good deal of silent fist-pumping and jumping around excitedly. We signed contracts with them an hour later.
That evening we went out with the crew to celebrate. Our friends Robin and Erwin (and their beautiful girlfriends) were in from Belgium and joined in the evening’s reveling. Sunday, we all spent the day wandering through the British Museum and traipsing about London. As is commonly known, no other method of perambulation is as British as traipsing.
The variety of transportation to get us back to Tayrona was laughable. We dragged our bags through the London streets to the ‘tube’ which took us to an overground train bound for Heathrow, before catching airplanes to Dubai, Melbourne, then Auckland, where we hopped a bus to the main city docks and caught a ferry boat out to the bay where Tayrona was moored. Then after forty hours of travel I swam out to the boat and got the dinghy to pick up Miranda! Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? That’s all you got, John Candy? Phooey and pshaw!
The International School of Zug and Luzern is an excellent school in Lucerne, Switzerland, just south of Zurich. The middle school and high school where Miranda and I will be teaching respectively are on separate campuses, a few kilometers apart. After two years of never being more than thirty-eight feet from each other, the distance might be a good thing for our marriage. This isn’t our shot, but it gives you the idea of what Lucerne looks like.
We are so excited about teaching in Switzerland! At the moment, I think we’re too tired for it to really sink in. For now, we’ll sink into our berths to recover from this ridiculous horse race.
“And there’s the gun! The schools come charging out the gates, London and Dubai making a early break; Ulaanbaatar puts on the speed but then falters as Beijing surges past on the straightaway. Beijing overtaking Germany, now fighting for position on the inside, neck and neck; WHAT’S THIS!? Round the final bend, Switzerland comes out of nowhere! Germany and Beijing trying to keep pace as Switzerland takes the lead! Switzerland breaking from the pack! Pulling away from Beijing and Germany! Switzerland! Opening the gap on the final straightaway! It’s Switzerland! Over the finish line! SWITZERLAND! IT’S SWITZERLAND!! There you are, folks! Switzerland takes the gold at the 2016 Pashouwer/Gorkiewicz London Fair Derby!