I have no business writing a blog post with the number of things on my to do list and the limited amount of time to do them. We leave for the States on Friday for a month! Yay! I am looking forward to seeing family and friends and also the following:
* Target and Chipoltle
* thrift stores – gonna stock up on clothes for Coco
* order and cleanliness and efficiency
* going on dates, going to free museums and zoos and parks and hanging out on U Street
Funny thing that I noticed though is that I would be okay if we weren’t going home. Shocking I know! I mean, I really, really miss my friends a ton so it will be great to see them but I don’t feel the deep, intense desire to hightail my ass back to the States as I did at Christmas time. Back then I was miserable and still in the midst of traumatic culture shock (ok, a bit dramatic) but now I can actually say that I made it through to the other side! Although I still don’t like Manila, I am finding it is tolerable. Things are so much better with the new apartment, my great yaya and having year 1 under my belt but I am also changed.
Well, I suspected this about myself all along but I *think* I am actually enjoying being an expat! Gasp. I know, I have been bitching and complaining for almost the entire year but now I am considering never returning home. Now I put the word think in italics because I haven’t quite committed to living overseas permanently (and it certainly wouldn’t be in Manila) but I actually am starting to think this is possible. I love a lot about the States (see above for starters) but I have changed so much this year and I don’t really see how the new me can live back home full-time anymore.
It’s a long, boring story of how I got to this point and surely most of you aren’t interested in but here are a few reasons why:
* I want to be trilingual. This has intensified since meeting so many people here who are. I want to learn both French and Spanish (at least) and that will be easier and quicker if I live in a country where the languages are spoken. I also want Coco to be trilingual. Getting us both to C1 level fluency will be very difficult living in Washington, DC.
* I want to see the world! A year ago, before I moved abroad, I considered myself fairly well-traveled. Outside of the US I had been to Mexico, USVI, Canada, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Spain, the Netherlands, France, England, Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden and UAE. Did I forget anywhere? For an American I think this is considered well-traveled yet I knew there were so many places I still wanted to see. However, as an overextended, underpaid teacher and single parent I was more likely to experience them in the pages of National Geographic. Sure, I might be able to save up for one trip a year but even that was going to be pushing it. I figured I needed to pare down my list and plan on seeing just a few and I was accepting that. But then I moved here and I have met people who have traveled so much more than I have and some are teachers, others single parents. They weren’t doing one place a year, they were doing more like six! Then I learned about people who are nomadic or who have location independent careers which allow them to essentially travel full-time. This was totally eye-opening to me! I started to realize that doing a lot more traveling didn’t have to be just a dream; I was starting to see that it could be a reality. Instead of seeing maybe 5 more cool places in my lifetime I can now see doing 50! But in order to do this I need to live abroad. Most places are just too darn far and expensive from the States.
* I like having a multicultural group of friends. Okay, technically I don’t have a group yet but I am developing one. What I do have though is people I interact with on a daily basis whose opinions and viewpoints and experiences and analyses aren’t steeped in the constraints of growing up in America (race relations, foreign policy, etc.) I was having a conversation the other day with a Pakistani friend about discrimination and it dawned on me that I hadn’t thought about racism in months. You can’t go a more than a day or two in the US without reading about/discussing/speculating/witnessing racism or discrimination in some form. It’s damn refreshing.
* I enjoy the lifestyle. In Asia that means regular spa treatments and hired help (nannies, drivers, gardeners, cooks, etc.). In Europe that means gorgeous surroundings and access to many countries on the cheap. In the Middle East this means lots and lots of money and exposure to a culture so very different from your own. In Africa it means being part of the majority and living in the Motherland. In South or Central America it means interesting culture and immediate bilingualism. In all of them it means as a teacher I get free tuition for Coco at a top-notch institution. I ain’t getting none of that in the US of A.
So yeah, I miss thrift stores and Chipolte, but those things truly don’t compare. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure I will enjoy every minute of our vacation but when I return I will begin planning our trips for the year. Destinations in mind? Cambodia, Vietnam, Boracay, Hong Kong and Bali. Living here certainly has its challenges but I have decided to stop complaining and start embracing all overseas living has to offer.