I was just thinking about the move here and my first crazy year living abroad. When I think about all I went through and how DIFFICULT it was for me and the fact that I survived it (basically in tact) well, I absolutely deserve a medal –and the title of Superwoman, dammit!!
Let’s review, shall we? Now, to be fair, it’s important to note that I came here in search of three specific things: money, balance and to feel like I was living and doing something interesting with my life. I still don’t have balance but two out of three ain’t bad. And there are certainly some positives of living here like having a cook/nanny/maid and being able to travel around Asia. And with all the positives of living back home the reality was I was broke and felt like life was passing me by. Those aren’t good. But still, it is crazy to think what I dealt with this year in the name of finding my pulse and saving some money. I needed those things desperately and I am glad to have found them but getting them took hard work (and perseverance, determination, patience, many glasses of wine, loads of cookies and buckets and buckets of tears)!!!
Positives of my life back home when I left:
* great job * great colleagues *supportive administration * 5 minute commute to work through lovely tree-lined streets * nice neighborhood * loads of friends * close to family * tons of free activities for kids and families * enormous Ethiopian community *on-site day care for Coco * fantastic teacher who loved her like a daughter * fall weather * men to date * Black community * great radio stations * easy access to healthy foods * large, supportive adoption community * beautiful home * many people who love me and my daughter * curly hair salon * Trader Joe’s * Target * ease of getting things done efficiently
Crap that I hated or added stress to my life this year:
* pollution and horrific air quality * insane and stressful traffic * new job with huge learning curve * time-consuming leadership role * long hours * ringworm * melasma * botched vein removal * hair got jacked up * my graduate class * single parenting an adopted child going through adjustment issues with no support * rainy season * awful hired help who lied and stole from me * rude and obnoxious colleagues * junk food and crap everywhere * mediocre living accommodations * no men * rare sightings of Black people * shitty radio * long hours at work * no good friends * few activities for kids * friends and family back home who didn’t bother to keep in touch * food poisoning * no green space
It. was. hard. 100x harder than I thought it would be!! Did you see that list??? But, I survived and I learned. I learned that I like being alone. I realized I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. I learned I am pretty courageous and self-sufficient. It’s been hard but good. Does that make sense? And to top it off I have paid off about $40,000 worth of debt!
Now for the $1,000,000 question. Do I remain here after my contract? Professionally it’s great, it’s more stability for Coco and it pays well but there are negatives (see above). Maybe I return home for a bit to spend time with family? Or do I continue to experience life abroad but somewhere new? I really do not know at this point; there are so many considerations like second language possibilities, culture, dating opportunities, cities where I know people, cost of living, quality of life, travel opps, savings potential, diversity and weather. And to be honest right now I don’t know which of these is most important. Here is my current extensive list of possibilities. If there was only one city in the country I’d consider I listed that; otherwise I put down the country. I’ve narrowed it down to my top 25. 🙂 In no particular order here’s what’s currently on the list:
7. District of Columbia
9. Costa Rica
14. Jordan 15. London 16. Saudi Arabia 17. Thailand 18. Oman 19. NYC/NJ 20. India 21. Morocco 22. Dakar 23. Lisbon 24. Nairobi 25. Johannesburg
Which city/country do you think is best and why?