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Thread summary:

Chicago: community college teacher, ethnically diverse area, immigrant students, class atmosphere

Old 08-04-2008, 02:43 PM
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OK, regular poster here.

I live in the Chicago 'burbs, and while I'm from here, lived most of my life here, have friends and family, and overall have great things to say about the region, there are a few things that nonetheless keep me restless, wondering if there is a better place for me. The only other regions I've lived in, have been small college towns under 50,000, awesome places to go to school and find oneself, just not a place to settle down in for the long hall.

I teach community college: earth science, weather/climate, geography, etc. I am considering going for the ol' PhD, 4 year university would awesome, but community college might still be ok, with the right demographics.

Now these are not complaints, simply reasons why I still don't feel like I completely fit in in the Chicago area, and are restless to find somewhere else.

1. I teach in an ethnically diverse area, which is cool, (the Chicago area including the suburbs (some would say especially). However as a community college instructor I must manage students that may not have taken the TOEFL exam and may be shy and reserved as immigrant students. I understand this, but this does not neccessarily make the dynamic class atmosphere I would like. Plus I feel obligated to be understanding when it comes to a student struggling with english, so therefore papers written, do not contain: a, an, the, (because eastern european languages don't have that, I feel like I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it is emotionally draining to make exceptions.

2. Most of the native born Americans in the Chicago area, are from there, and have not traveled very much except to "destinations" (Vegas, Orlando) this also makes for a less interactive classroom environment. Teaching geography to people who don't travel is hard." I think I would rather teach in an area where there are more transplants from all over the US. so we can have more interesting classroom interactions "I'm from Florida: I remember such and such a hurricane, or I'm from California and I remember this wildfire, earthquake, etc. I get very little of that where I am right now.

3. I just don't follow major league (or college sports for that matter). I'm much more into outdoor pursuits like hiking, camping, canoeing. Chicago sports are huge, and everyone is a Cubs or Sox fan. This is fine, but when it comes to everyday conversations I still feel left out.

So . . .

In your guys' opinions which American cities follow my criteria the best.

1. I really don't care about weather: cold winters, no winters I can deal with it all.
2. Hilly forested terrain is a big deal to me (we have some great areas within days drive of Chicago, just tends to be more hidden). I want those landscapes even in the heart of the city. (I loved Atlantas Piedmont park! This city is high on my list).
3. I would like more native born Americans from all over than I find in the Chicago area. This would be good because transplants are always looking for new friends and new groups of people to belong to. And maybe less international diversity, and where the immigrants speak English well, and are more outgoing, and don't form "ethnic neighborhoods" as much.

4. I like a place with young people like Chicago, but where young people are more into going out of town for the day, and doing outdoor things and a little less on professional sports. Is Minneapolis and Atlanta at all like this? These are places I'm considering eventually moving to. This last point is a biggie, because as a single guy in my late twenties, I have lots of female friends, but I tend to have little in common and so this I think effects potential dating chemistry.

5. I know your thinking about recommending western towns/cities for obvious reasons, and I would still consider those, however I lived out west and #1 I missed the green landscapes and bodies of water. #2 There seems to be too much of an attitude of "I'm made it here, now close the gate." out west that turns me off a bit.

What are your suggestions?

Last edited by Tex?Il?; 08-04-2008 at 03:21 PM.. Reason: title too general, might not attract attention
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Old 08-04-2008, 06:04 PM
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You know what I suggest? Google "find your spot . com " I cant post the link or it will get cut. That site helps a little bit on getting an idea of what regions are good. I tend to find people usually suggest the sames cities....san diego, austin, st louis, louisville, omaha, charlotte, raleigh NC, and Denver for the most part. You make me jealous that in your late twenties you are already teaching...i better hit the books. : ) : )
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Old 08-04-2008, 06:09 PM
Location: from houstoner to bostoner to new yorker to new jerseyite ;)
4,085 posts, read 11,452,655 times
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Yeah, that site is great. It comes up with some towns and cities rarely, if ever, mentioned on here (which is a good thing to me - I wouldn't want to move someplace overrun with people, sprawl, and traffic like where I live now!). You enter what you're looking for and it spits out suggestions tailored to fit your individual needs.
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Old 08-05-2008, 10:21 PM
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It seems to me that if you're thinking of pursuing the doctorate, once you're there, teaching at a university or four-year college would mean teaching students with a better facility with English, and writing in English, than you're finding at a community college. At four-year (and more) colleges, you'd probably also feel less hesitant to get tough with students who still had to work on these basic skills, since a basic level of accomplishment in these areas could reasonably be assumed at that educational level. It could be a tradeoff, though, since you might have less choice of jobs at the higher-level colleges. You might have to live wherever you could find a job, making your search for the best place to live moot, though at least in your field you're likely to have a better choice of jobs as a professor than you would in, say, philosophy.

If we assume that you can live pretty much anywhere you want to, unless you have completely eliminated the West from consideration, I might suggest Seattle, Portland, and Denver as possibilities. Heading east, Boston is not so close to the mountains that they are in sight, but a great variety of outdoor activities is easily within day-trip distance of that city. You won't get the feeling you get in some Western cities that life revolves around the outdoors, but quite a few people in the Boston area like to get away to the mountains. There are those who describe Boston as insular, but the presence of all those colleges in the area makes for a good representation of the entire nation, and much of the world, among the younger population.

NYC is another possibility. The Adirondacks are farther from NYC than New Hampshire's White Mountains are from Boston, but if you lived in the NYC area, you could still make day trips to the Adirondacks, and in NYC you're going to encounter plenty of people from other places..

D.C. puts you a couple of hours away from mountains, and, like NYC, has many people from other places.

You might also want to check Charlotte and Atlanta. Both are growing quickly because a lot of people are moving there from all over the country, so you should find that good mix of local natives and transplanted population you seek. Being inland, these cities are not as close to as great a variety of outdoor recreation as the Northeastern cities I've suggested, but you've specifically mentioned mountains, and both Charlotte and Atlanta are within a couple of hours of the mountains.

One question: As you live now in Chicago, are you interested in staying in a larger city, or would smaller cities be a possibility? With the suggestions above, I'm assuming you're interested in continuing to live in a larger city or metro. If a smaller city would work, I'm sure there are plenty of possibilities there as well. In fact, I believe there would be some good possibilities in the same general regions where the larger cities I've suggested above are located.

Last edited by ogre; 08-05-2008 at 10:32 PM..
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Old 08-05-2008, 10:24 PM
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
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If you want native-born Americans, outdoor activites, and community colleges to teach at, look no further than the Knoxville, Tennessee area.

Population is around 200,000, which pretty much every store that any big city would have. There is lots of hunting and fishing and hiking in the area.
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Old 08-06-2008, 05:13 AM
5,727 posts, read 9,088,192 times
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I have a friend that teaches at a college in New Hampshire and he's become totally disgusted with the faculty and administration because of the selfish attitude. Another friend gave up teaching after a year for similar reasons and the union's strong armed tactics. My cousin's husband is a former college Professor who used to teach at a university in Boston. He also quit.

After reading your first two points it sounds like you are less concerned with the needs of the students and more concerned with your own needs. Worse still you sound incredibly intolerant of people from different backgrounds. Now I can see why people are so disgusted with the educators in this country. Unbelievable...
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:52 AM
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marienville, pa is nice. its very rural, but in the allegheny national forest in northwest pennsylvania. lots of green, forests and mountains. clarion university is a half hour away. not sure if you want a place this rural, but it is beautiful
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