FULBRIGHT: I'm Moving to Finland

When I tell people that come January, I will be living in Finland for 5 months, the reactions are shock, wonder, and admiration. "I wish I could get away for 5 months like that!" is a common reaction.

The truth is it is not so easy.

Your Job 



Most teachers who apply for a Fulbright tend to be intricately involved in the management of their schools. They are department chairs, coaches, coordinators, and many times all of the above. Aside from that, we have our own rolls of students we are committed to.

I had the opportunity to leave the classroom this year for the first time in 22 years. My Fulbright award definitely swayed me into the direction of taking on a full time Magnet Program Coordinator role. If I wasn't personally in charge of 150 students, it would make my departure easier to bear.

But no matter your role, knowing you will be leaving your school is a tough decision.  As January approaches, the decision is still a tough one to deal with.

Your Pay


Although Fulbright covers your costs while living abroad, you have your own expenses to deal with at home. It turns out there is a wide variety of support that teachers receive from their school districts.

Most Fulbrighters receive some level of salary and benefits. But there are some districts that completely cut teachers off and assign them an unpaid leave. At our orientation, one teacher shared that her school gave away her position during her leave and when she returned, she had to cobble together three minimum wage jobs until she was able to obtain another teaching position.

My school district, in spite of months of questions, has not told me what I can expect for compensation next year. So I have to plan for zero. This means renting out my home, and moving in with loved ones in order to save money for 2018. This was really hard to do, but I am willing to make sacrifices to get to Finland.

It will mean living like a college student again in order to pay my bills while conducting my inquiry project in Finland.

Many leaders in my district have written congratulatory letters to me and are thorough supporters of my endeavor. But the must frustrating part is those who respond with "what is a Fulbright?" when I try to get answers about my leave. Those are the tough days.

Your Family


There is nothing easy about leaving friends and family behind. But I take this as an opportunity to encourage them all to visit you while abroad. My daughter Alana plans to visit and keep me warm.

Your Housing


Many worry warts have asked me if I am stressed about the move or finding housing or the food or the language. No! I am excited! That is all part of the adventure. When will I ever have the opportunity to find a cool new apartment and be cosmopolitan? When will I ever get to challenge myself by being immersed in a completely foreign culture? Your grow or you die.

The apartment I am looking at is in the city center, a short walk from everything. However, a short walk might seem like torture when it is below zero, but I hope my acclimation will be quick.


As the holidays approach, I continue to gather artifacts and ideas that I will share with the Finnish people. Los Angelenos represent the intersection of race, class, gender, and all that makes America already great. I embark on my Fulbright hoping to share with the Finns as much as they may share with me.

Want to learn about the awesome program that is sending me to Finland? Check it out here.

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