Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pandora's [Travel] Box


When I was a kid, September always excited me. I loved Autumn. It was - still is - my favorite season with my favorite colors and my favorite flavors. I never loved the actual school part of September but I did always look forward to the first day of it: the possiblity of a new year, the new outfits, and mostly if I'm honest, the school supplies. Ahhhh the excitement of opening new pencils and notebooks. I should have known then that I would grow up to be a writer... or an office supply salesperson.

Although September at any school lends itself to feelings of limitless opportunity and starting again, the life of an abroad teacher offers a different set of possibility. The possibility of where to go next...

I'm sure you're thinking it's strange that I could be contemplating the next few years at the very beginning of this year but here's why: In the last few days my facebook has been busy buzzing feeds with the exciting new start of old co-workers in foreign places: Bangladesh, Burma, Croatia, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Colorado (Hi Lisa!). All of these places offer so many adventures and in another lifestyle, these adventures would be totally INaccessible but when you're teaching abroad, these adventures become totally Accessible.

It should be noted that for right now, Husband and I are still so busy settling into the new apartment that we hope will be our home for the next couple of years in Santo Domingo that moving is as appealing as a rocket ship to the eye - needless to say moving is not exactly on my mind, but the possibilities - oh the possibilities of where to go next - always have me thinking and giddy. Husband loves and hates this about me. My ability to love where I am but still want to move on - and it's only magnified by this lifestyle.

See, the teaching abroad life is in itself Pandora's Box. A beautiful container with mysteries inside that curiosity pokes at you to open. It's appealing, mysterious. You think you shouldn't but it entices you. And Nature of the Beast calls to you to take a look - a quick peek - and then close it back up. But what that beautiful box doesn't tell you is that once you open it, there is no going back. There's no way to put all it's belongings neatly back in the box and tuck it away under your bed. It's out. It's too late.

Such is the teaching abroad life.

Husband and I made the decision to go abroad before we knew we were having Rafaella. And once we found out about her, the decision was harder to make but made it we did. After all, we could always leave after his two year contract was up. We could always pack up the box and come home.

Silly mortals...

As we enter our third year, we discuss endlessly without doing any planning where our life will take us. We try to stay adult and responsible in our ideas like how we'd like our next move to keep us in a Spanish speaking country to continue gifting our children with this amazing gift of bilingualism: Argentina, Chile, maybe Peru? And we try not to let our own teenage wanderlust ideas get the best of us: Let's live in Brazil for Carnival or Germany for Oktoberfest? or How awesome would living in Costa Rica be where we could teach by day and surf by sunset? (I think we know whose wanderlust idea is whose.) And what makes the discussion - the potential decision - so knotty is the same thing that makes it so gnarly - those endless possibilities.

Damn you, Pandora and your box and your seductive ways with your temptations of beautiful cities, and historical landmarks, and crystal blue oceans, and expansive mountain ranges, and cultural differences, and beautiful people that speak different languages but have the same heart and the same center. Damn you!

There are so many things to see and so many Life's To Do's to cross off that once you get a taste of life abroad its hard to live a full life in one place. I want to drink cafĂ© au laits in France while writing my novel. I want Husband and I to continue our tango lessons in Argentinian brothels (well maybe not the brothel part). I want my kids to eat Bratwurst in Germany and climb mountains in Peru and walk Great Walls in China's. And since we are not yet millionaires (come on writing career!) and can't afford to just travel to these corners of the world, the most affordable way to see these places is to work in these places.

Since we have opened Pandora's Box we have realized that we aren't the only crazies that have itched to travel the world like this. There's a whole gaggle of us. Some young, some old. Some single, some married. Some with kids, some with none, some with three! And we have realized that the kind of education we want for our kids isn't only the kind they will receive sitting in a classroom. So for now, there's no going back. This lifestyle that offers so many perks and too many opportunities is impossible to pack up and tuck away.

Our Pandora's Box is open. And I see no reason to close it.

Playing baseball with our little Dominican buddies
Playing baseball with our little Dominican buddies
Local beach lunch: as fresh as it gets
Rice fields
Drive through the mountains


  1. Jen! I have read your blog for a while and actually started one myself about a year ago. I only this summer started really getting into networking and making connections through it and trying to learn all the blogging basics. You're by no means a newbie, but I invited you to join a group that I made on FB that's a network of women I met through blogging at all stages of the blogging experience. Obviously, you've been doing this successfully for a while, but I thought it would be fun to have your fabulousness as part of the group. Also, I was recently nominated for a Liebster Award and I wanted to swing by and see how you're doing and officially let you know that I nominated you for it as well! Head over to my site to read all about it and "accept" it if you're interested.

    1. Wow, Meg! Thanks for the invite and and the nomination. I have been doing this a while now but still feel like a newbie so having a support group to bounce questions off of is a GREAT idea!!! I am excited to be sharing this with you as a way to stay connected even after all these years. Who knew that HP middle school would have brought us together all these years later?????


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