September 26, 2010

How To Waste Your College Degree

On May 22nd, 2010 I graduated from California State University Monterey Bay after five years of higher education with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies, a minor in Child Development, and a cum laude honors distinction for a consistently stellar GPA. With this degree I can work in a preschool as a teacher or in a high position at a child development center. I could even go on to grad school and earn a teaching credential, a Master’s degree in Early Child Education or child development, and eventually teach the subject at high school or college level. All of these things I’ve considered as possible options for my near and not so distant future.

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However, I chose the path less traveled and chose to go abroad. I’ll call it my gap year – between where education ends and real life begins. I’m postponing reality for a little bit and, instead, I’m living inside of a dream. Being an au pair is a wonderful thing. I’m decidedly overqualified for this position seeing as most au pairs are fresh out of high school, 18 or 19 years old, with little experience in child care but a strong desire for some good cultural renewal. I have ten years of experience and I’ve worked professionally as a child care provider for more than five years of those. Even though my learning emphasizes on education, it’s safe to say that I have a degree in child care. I am, simply put, an au pair extraordinaire.

My au pair position requires little responsibility. I tidy up, empty the dishwasher, make snacks and dinner, play card games and puzzles, sing songs, and go on bike rides. I’m free everday from 7:30 AM until about 4 or 5 PM. And the day ends around 7:30 PM. It’s a charmed life, to say the least. There is little exercise of my college education and even though I’m working with children all the time, there’s not a lot of developmental aid going into our time together.

I am truly wasting my college degree.

I’m not complaining. I love what I’m doing here. These kids love me and I’m giving them something meaningful, even if it’s not an education or a lesson in their proper development. And I’m experiencing something new, something I never would have been able to do if I’d gone right into the working world. I’m learning a new language and making new friends, building my character and my perseverance. I am, however, afraid that when I am ready to go out into the working world – I’m going to have forgotten everything that I need to know to be a professional, working adult in my field of choice. I could easily order some child development and education text books and keep my mind fresh but that’s expensive. Eventually, I’ll get around to this. But for now… this is what I’ve been doing as a graduated, college educated 20-something adult:

  • Blogging. This is the most obvious of my recent past times. I love doing it. It’s therapeutic in a way that only a blogger could understand. It’s less of a stigma than it used to be so I have no problems bragging about my interests and addictions to blogging. I love being able to share my experiences with friends and family members and anyone else who is interested in my crazy life. I bet that even when I do become a professional adult, I’ll probably blog about that too. Diary of an Ex-Au Pair: How My Year Abroad Prepared Me For My Life Ahead. Or something like that…

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  • Pirating. It’s probably dangerous for me to say this on here because it’s most likely illegal but I’ve become quite the pirate since I arrived in Germany. It might have something to do with lack of English television exposure and a financial inability to access movies and music but I’ve taken to downloading whatever I want. I’m not selling it to anyone, my iPod is the only one who benefits besides myself. If I want to watch a movie, I just download it. New music, okay. Dexter Season 4? You got it! Harry Potter DVD marathon? Kein problem! My iPod is readily stocked, my computer slowly filling up with illegal contraband. This is how you use your college degree to the least of your ability. Let’s just hope I don’t end up in jail.

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  • Reading. I’ve read so many books since I first got here that I can’t even keep track. This is a worthy past time, of course, since reading is one of the best things in the world. Especially when you happen across a really good book. I’ve read a few good ones – The Time Travelers Wife and Handle With Care being two of my favorites. Right now, I’m starting in again on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in preparation for the seventh movie which releases in just a few months. I got the UK version of the novel from a used bookstore here in Munich and I love it.


  • Writing. Once upon a time, it was my secret dream to someday be a published novelist. I did try – numerous times – to make something of myself but I always fell short with lost and forgotten plotlines, dead ends, writers block, lack of time or interest, and Hanson fan fiction. You don’t get anywhere writing fan fiction. I don’t think I am meant to be published. It’s a fun hobby though. I haven’t done much of it since I arrived here but I think I’m going to try again and I’m going to start small, combining my love for fiction and blogging and write a ‘blovel.’ I have a few ideas. One that involves vampires. I know, so cliche, isn’t it? So, if I really succeed at wasting my degree in education, I can just become a writer and make millions of dollars and never use my education, anyway.


  • Movies. Another thing that I’ve been doing. I brought a few DVDs with me. And the Frau has a small collection. Plus, what I’ve downloaded and the few that I’ve seen in the theaters. I’m making my way through the second series of Everwood (kind of of on stand-still at the moment) and the Sex and the City series and I have to say that I am in love with the latter. I can’t believe I never watched it before. I probably wouldn’t have understood it or related to it. Now, every few episodes, I think, “Oh my God, I know!!” Haha. It’s so addicting, I’m absolutely in love with them. After S&theC, it’s on to Desperate Housewives. In the in-between I’ve watched Nanny Diaries, (500) Days of Summer, Jurassic Park, Shutter Island, The Time Travelers Wife, Jennifer’s Body, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. In the theaters I’ve seen Eclipse, The Karate Kid, and Inception. It’s a hard knock life, ain’t it?


  • Alcoholism. Okay, that’s a joke. But since half of my family thinks I’m headed down this road, I’m making a joke out of it. Everyone in Munich is an alcoholic. Social alcoholics, galore! Sure, this city is pretty amazing and there is a lot to do but it’s so much more fun when you’re enjoying delicious German brew. I can’t make you believe me about how good it is until you’ve tried it so until you do, take my word for it. The bier here is worth becoming an alcoholic, trust me. Ha. That’s a joke too, but seriously. If there were a college degree for beer drinking, I’d be suma cum laude for sure!

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  • Music. I don’t consider this a waste of my anything because music is kind of like my life blood. Without it, life would be so much less worth living. It all started with Hanson and the Spice Girls back when I was buck-toothed and all gangly and awkward. They sparked an interest and then it grew into something wild. Now, all I ever do when I’m out on my bike or traveling by UBahn is put on some tunes and rock out. Lately it’s been a lot of Angus & Julia Stone, Ray LaMontagne, David Gray, Jack Johnson, and Maroon 5. But it’s always something new, something different. I can’t even listen to it all, there’s not enough time in the day. But this is definitely a worthy way to spend my “gap year.”


  • Sleeping. I definitely did not get enough of this in college so why not catch up on it now – when I’m free most of the day and before I have to join the working world of 6 am mornings and 9-5 days. Okay, I’m already waking up at 6 am now that die kinder are in school but at 7:30, 8 o’clock I usually just go back to bed – sometimes until 2. I’m not going to get to do that when I start using my degree. So, I’ll take advantage of it now.

And last but certainly not least…

  • Facebook. It’s taking over the world. Why shouldn’t I let it take over my hard earned education too? Seriously, ask any one of my friends here in Germany and they’ll tell you that I’m on Facebook all the time. My life is just that. Facebook. Or so it seems. I’m not really doing anything substantial either. Just stalking people, pretty much. Uploading pictures, posting links, you know… the usual stupid boring Facebook stuff. It’s amazing how much time that usual stupid boring stuff consumes. And because it is all consuming, in the near future, I will be combining an aforementioned past time (movies) with this past time (Facebook) and will go see this movie:

And that, my dear readers, is how you successfully waste your college degree.

2 comments:

McGriddle Pants said...

hey! i'll have been unemployed for nearly a year come October 4th...

THAT is how you waste a college degree!

and of course gain 20 pounds :P

carmenportas said...

Interesting article.And very informative insights,I like how you share your experiences as a college graduate,I say I could do the same with my associates degree online.

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