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.