My first move happened in 2007 from the U.S. to a Podunk town in South Korea. It was my own fault for moving to the middle of nowhere and I have since learned my lesson. My next move was going back to the U.S. a year later, but I couldn’t stop myself from hopping back into Asia less than two months after that. Life in America seemed so tame compared to the excitement abroad. From there I jumped between a few more Asian countries before giving in to the demands of family members who insisted I grow roots and stay planted in the U.S.
For the next six years I worked as an English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teacher and balanced a hectic schedule where I’d run all over Boston teaching classes morning, noon, and night. It was exhausting. All the while, I fought the growing urge to jump on a plane and blow this popsicle stand, but I resisted. By 2013, after realizing I had fought the good fight, I gave in and signed a contract with a university in Thailand.
I gave my notice to my jobs, landlord, plastered signs for a yard sale with the tagline ‘everything must go’, and then told my family. This time I planned to stay overseas for an underminable amount of time. I would leave the idea of returning to the U.S. on the backburner as I explored Southeast Asia. My family was less than pleased and my friends said, “Again?”
I sold everything. I had ten years of stuff, some of it displayed on the first-floor level of the house I shared with a roommate, while the rest remained in boxes carefully naming the contents. It didn’t matter – I had added things to them over the years and could no longer remember what each box contained. Going through everything was both exhausting and cathartic. In the end, I made the decision to sell most of it, only keeping the things that truly mattered.
How did I decide what stayed and what went? I’m an avid reader and former literature major so I kept the books I had used to earn my first degree. I also kept a bag of magnets I had collected throughout my travels. Each one reminded me of an experience in a foreign city, plus they were easy to pack. That was pretty much it. I sold all my furniture, dishes, cookware, and everything else I couldn’t fit into my car. I did keep a mountain bike however, but when I returned to get it, my new eager beaver replacement had assumed I wasn’t coming back and gifted it to her granddaughter.
I also sold my car. It was the last thing to go. With the money from both the yard and private sale, I used part of it to fund my trip abroad. The rest sat in a bank account. This was my only material tie to the U.S. I learned long ago that when moving to another country it is best to have your finances in order and to keep a bank account. It is also paramount to have a credit card, but I had not learned that lesson yet. After being penniless and contactless in Saudi Arabia however, I will never make that mistake again.
Two months after I signed my contract, I was on a plane to Thailand. I had packed my life into three suitcases, one of which was a carryon, and the fourth, a backpack with my purse and laptop shoved into it.
I was on my way to a new life, in a new country, equal parts change and adventure. It turned out to be the turning point in my life and career.
My first moved happened in 2007 from the U.S. to a podunk town in South Korea. It was my own fault for moving to the middle of nowhere and I have since learned my lesson. My next move was going back to the U.S. a year later but I couldn’t stop myself from hopping back into Asia less than two months after that. From there I jumped between a few more Asian countries before giving in to the demands of family members who insisted I grown roots and stay planted in the U.S.
I remember thinking, when you first told me that you were leaving, and I think I may have even said it outloud… “that’s so great, going to another country! Have fun!” I wasn’t worried about you leaving, I was more worried that you weren’t going to be coming back or for that matter want to continue to be my friend. I needn’t have worried so much, as our friendship seemed to actually strengthen with the additional miles between us. I love reading your blog, and hope to see more!
Thanks for commenting! I love hearing what people have to say. You were not alone in your thinking as many had the same worry. As strange as it may sound, I lost many friends and even when I came back, I had to start over and that was only after one year! Ten years on and many countries later that has all changed. Those lost friendships are part of my past. I have since learned that when our inner voice calls to us and pushes us to do something that we have wanted for some time, we must do it. It may take courage and going against all that is familiar, but in the end it will make us better people, and those around us will see that too.